Addicted to Vintage: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox

You’ve probably seen at least one of their videos on YouTube. They are purveyors of covers – nay, reinventions – of the music you hear on the radio briefly before switching the channel. Scott Bradlee and his band of virtuosos take pop songs and arrange them to sound like they were written a lifetime ago. He takes the music from fistpump-inducing to hip-shaking, toe-tapping, shoobie-doobie-style oldies.

Bradlee is a New Jersey-born classical pianist who got into the jazzy styles of the 1910s and 1920s after finding inspiration in George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. He started making ragtime solo piano covers before leading a full band – various vocalists, standup bass, horns and winds, guitars and drums – to create videos of live performances from his New York City apartment. Their style runs the vintage gamut, ranging from doo-wop to crooner, Motown to big band. They even have the outfits and choreography to go with it! Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Ellie Goulding, Guns’N’Roses, Iggy Azalea and Lorde are among the artists whose music has reached its full potential as a result of Bradlee’s arranging superpowers. The videos aren’t just popular; they are consistently viral, with over a million subscribers to their channel and almost 16 million views. Their cover of Radiohead’s deservingly overplayed “Creep” is almost too good to comprehend. Hailey Reinhart’s vocals are on the level of Etta James’ and the vintage cabaret-style arrangement gives new life to a song we have all heard so many times.

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox is taking it off your device onto the stage. They recently finished a wildly successful European tour and will be making stops across North America next. They will be playing Danforth Music Hall on June 6, so get your flapper dresses ready because this one’s going to be hotsy-totsy, y’see!

Hilary Johnston
Hilary Johnston is a writer, event manager and musician from Toronto.
Hilary Johnston