Contemporary pop music thru the filter of a gentler, more segregated age: Postmodern Jukebox etc

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following a bit of discussion in the innocent smoothies aesthetic thread, where noodle vague's comment suggested the thread title for this one, here's somewhere we can talk about the pop-music recontextualisations of postmodern jukebox, the hackney colliery band, and others.

a friend of mine is a big fan of this kind of music (but not really of the originals which inspired the covers) and i find them infuriating on a level even beyond eternal ilm punchbags pomplamoose. basically it's a bunch of arch ironists stripping away pretty much every appealing aspect of the original song and replacing it with tedious muso chops and suffocating smugness.

here's a few examples of the bands i mentioned

https://youtu.be/9YZXPs8uAB0

https://youtu.be/q1D6qWO-JzQ

https://youtu.be/7Er4tb9J9uI

https://youtu.be/LKHtfjXrUzs

i guess this also ties in to the popularity of slowed-down, mournful acoustic covers of pop songs seemingly destined to end up on a john lewis ad, like this fucking awful take on 'dancing on my own':

https://youtu.be/q31tGyBJhRY

i'm tempted to write off the whole aesthetic as reactionary / rooted in racism but is there more to it? does anyone here actually enjoy this stuff? if so, what's the appeal?

pokemon go speed run (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:36 (nine months ago) Permalink

goddamn youtube links

pokemon go speed run (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:37 (nine months ago) Permalink




pokemon go speed run (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:38 (nine months ago) Permalink

I can imagine having fun to this kind of thing really drunk at a wedding say, and there's always a certain fleeting thrill at hearing a well-done recontextualisation. But anyone who is a 'big fan' of these bands in their day to day life I suspect of being a bit of a cultural moron.

chap, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:45 (nine months ago) Permalink

I think 'rooted in racism' is going a bit far, though.

chap, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:47 (nine months ago) Permalink

Think I'll have some tedious muso chops for dinner tonight

Foster Twelvetrees (Ward Fowler), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:52 (nine months ago) Permalink

i'm sure the inherent racism is purely accidental/unconsidered

see also Blues Brothers cover bands

the Zenga bus is coming (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:56 (nine months ago) Permalink

went on a date with a girl who said she was into Postmodern Jukebox. looked 'em up when i got home and that pretty much immediately killed it for me.

circa1916, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:27 (nine months ago) Permalink

there's stuff I like that isn't a million miles away from this - The Moog Cookbook, The Mike Flowers Pops, Señor Coconut - maybe Little Roy's album of Nirvana covers counts as well? but they generally don't have the same queasy racial politics of Postmodern Jukebox etc where it's not clear to what extent they are laughing *at* the songs, or appreciating the songs, or laughing at themselves, or whatever. like when you have a radio 4 comedy show where a middle class white person talks "street", and they're laughing at their own whiteness and middle classness, but maybe also there's something less defensible going on?

what's the earliest example of this sort of thing? what was the name of that alternative comedy duo that did Noel Coward style versions of new wave songs (later parodied by Lee and Herring)?

soref, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:44 (nine months ago) Permalink

I thing the other difference with that 90s lounge stuff like Mike Flowers is that it reveled in it's own tackiness and this is all horribly tasteful

soref, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:50 (nine months ago) Permalink

The other problem is fedoras thinking Amy Winehouse is 'vintage 60s'.

chad valley of the shadow of death (ledge), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:51 (nine months ago) Permalink

all that chap-hop, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer stuff feels like a close-ish cousin to this

woof, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:52 (nine months ago) Permalink

I hate almost all of this stuff but I have to begrudgingly say that I like the clown's version of 'Royals'.

I have a cut off point of Nouvelle Vague being the band that totally made this ubiquitous and awful. Obviously it existed long before but even in the silly easy listening trend of the '90s it wasn't ~everywhere~. Also, even though I don't really like musical comedy, at least it was obvious the '90s bands were being comedic, whereas these newer gentrifiers seem to believe that they're somehow "capturing the inner beauty" of a song or something, like pop is this ugly thing, but look, we superior beings have gleaned the diamond in the rough and presented it to you.

emil.y, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:57 (nine months ago) Permalink

xps oh, I was writing that when soref posted, yes, that.

emil.y, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 12:58 (nine months ago) Permalink

these newer gentrifiers seem to believe that they're somehow "capturing the inner beauty" of a song or something, like pop is this ugly thing, but look, we superior beings have gleaned the diamond in the rough and presented it to you.

v. otm

pokemon go speed run (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:10 (nine months ago) Permalink

'gentrifiers' as a descriptor seems particularly apt

pokemon go speed run (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:11 (nine months ago) Permalink

This is also closely related to that gyspy jazz/electro swing continuum ain't it? It's that austerity nostalgia thing mixed with 'it's just a bit of fun'

The people I know who like PMJB are either not that into music and like them for the novelty factor. Either that or they're proper 'band' people who play a bazillion instruments.

I like Easy Star Allstars a lot. Not sure what the difference is here? It's probably the starchiness at work here. They scream 'festival bigtop at 3pm', crusties doing the can-can in gingham dresses.

TARANTINO! (dog latin), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:12 (nine months ago) Permalink

iirc Nouvelle Vague's choices of cover versions were from the (alt) canon and critically robust so I never really found anything distasteful about them in the sense of other stuff mentioned itt

aromantic cuck (DJ Mencap), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:15 (nine months ago) Permalink

what's the earliest example of this sort of thing?

Think this bunch are pretty foundational for that queasy mixture of sincere admiration and snooty pastiche

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Temperance_Seven

Foster Twelvetrees (Ward Fowler), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:15 (nine months ago) Permalink

seeing a "diamond in the rough" seems to me like a theoretically v good reason to do a cover version albeit one ripe for abuse

aromantic cuck (DJ Mencap), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:17 (nine months ago) Permalink

I started typing something on the relationship to electro swing but I actually think this is the inverse of that. Electro swing is modern music using the recordings and riffs of the other era; the fact that both sets of fans (and there is undoubtedly a huge fan crossover) dress the same way obviously clouds the issue.

I think the first Nouvelle Vague record was the last time I was aware of this being a thing, I'd assumed that the crossover of it into e.g. the "traditional" John Lewis Christmas advert meant that it was too mainstream to even be considered a novelty. Is Gary Jules maybe a turning point?

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:18 (nine months ago) Permalink

Yesterday I was imagining a long, slow, mournful version of Livin Joy's 'Dreamer' done in the style of Fields of the Nephilim or Johnny Cash's 'American IV'.

It left me wondering whether such a cover version would be more of an indictment of goth music than pop music, i.e. - would it be easier to ignore the fluffy broken English of the original were it weighed down with funereal gravitas? and if so, does that prove something about supposedly 'serious' goth music and its ability to make frivolous lyrics sound deep and meaningful, as opposed to highlighting the quasi-gibberish of the source lyrics?

TARANTINO! (dog latin), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:22 (nine months ago) Permalink

https://youtu.be/jdYuSbthibI

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:23 (nine months ago) Permalink

That 'black metal covers done in a euro-trance style' album from the Soft Pink Truth is a good inverse to this kind of thing.

TARANTINO! (dog latin), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:24 (nine months ago) Permalink

For another early example, could we argue Mrs Mills? She certainly did enough contemporary material, and her use of stride piano was to appeal to the pre-war generations.

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:25 (nine months ago) Permalink

Horizontal Superman is invulnerable (aldo), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:28 (nine months ago) Permalink

There are few songs that can't be improved by adding synth fireworks and a kickdrum, but there are very few songs that sound better "stripped back"

Like I always think of how when Adele sang "Someone Like You" at the British with just a piano and it was good but it would have been so much better with a dance routine and a dubstep part

Basically this is the inverse of all those Clubland compilations from the past decade and all the worse for it

boxedjoy, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:32 (nine months ago) Permalink

At the Brits, even

boxedjoy, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:34 (nine months ago) Permalink

The Postmodern Jukebox things are utterly loathsome and unbearable. The Hackney Colliery Band covers linked in the OP sound way more tasteful in execution, even if they're still super mediocre, like a passably funky band at a blues bar or something.

The problem with a lot of these songs is that they aren't written to be played this way. Contemporary pop songs are based around four-chord loops that don't mesh with swing/jazz/blues era harmonies or structures. You hear a trombone player mimicking a vocal part by playing a rhythmic pattern that stays on one or two notes and it's like, why is this happening? I don't understand why people buy into this gimmicky shit.

esempiu (crüt), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:34 (nine months ago) Permalink

iirc it was all oldies rather than contemporary songs done in an old-timey way, but the massive success of Robbie Williams Swing When You're Winning seems like a step towards this stuff becoming omnipresent, it kind of grew out of the 90s easy revival but with a focus on "classiness" rather than tackiness, the smirky mien with which Williams delivered this seems to set the tone.

(maybe Tom Jones' Reload album fits in somewhere as well?)

soref, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:35 (nine months ago) Permalink

The 'indie night' at my student union used to be about 40% ska-punk covers of well-known pop songs like Come on Eileen. Later I think they did the same thing with big-room dubstep drops.

TARANTINO! (dog latin), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:43 (nine months ago) Permalink

Fallon's barbershop covers seem like an egregious example of this, even if the intent is self-mockery or making fun of the older style.

jmm, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:20 (nine months ago) Permalink

Downside of too many conservatory kids no longer feeling constrained to playing Chopin or whatever, plus the talentshow-ization of music encouraged by American Idol and youtube.

socka flocka-jones (man alive), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:21 (nine months ago) Permalink

jimmy fallon is a plague

esempiu (crüt), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:25 (nine months ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

*shriek*

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 07:58 (five days ago) Permalink

advertisers really going to town with this shit at the moment

The Remoans of the May (Noodle Vague), Friday, 19 May 2017 08:00 (five days ago) Permalink

five years behind the curve, so right on time

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 09:09 (five days ago) Permalink

Things I don't have a problem with:
- covering songs in a radically different style to the original
- jazz versions of popular songs (half of jazz is built on this, although from the days when popular songs had way more chords and more raw material to work with harmonically)

Things I do have a problem with:
- shoving every popular song from the last 30 years into a generic 'jazzy' form without putting any great effort into it or thinking whether it's a good idea
- patting yourself on the back for being so clever to do thing A in style B
- pulling weird faces and mugging for the camera in videos and thinking this is somehow connected to 'irony'
- equating slow tempos and lack of electronic instruments with being more meaningful and deep, maaan
- implicitly shitting on the original - "look how we turned this disposable pop rubbish into a real song"
- always keeping it so damn tasteful and never cutting loose or improvising or using the song as a jumping off point
- calling yourself 'Postmodern' just because you have a double bassist and he wears a hat

the_ecuador_three, Friday, 19 May 2017 13:38 (five days ago) Permalink

advertisers really going to town with this shit at the moment

That Fatboy Slim cover on an advert for some bank is particularly toe-curling

Neil S, Friday, 19 May 2017 13:40 (five days ago) Permalink

that one and whoever's doing "I Only Wanna Be With You" are rising my urge to kill considerably

The Remoans of the May (Noodle Vague), Friday, 19 May 2017 13:41 (five days ago) Permalink

I am not familiar with this and cannot listen at work but the impression I'm getting is something like

human/hutt hybrid (Old Lunch), Friday, 19 May 2017 13:58 (five days ago) Permalink

advertisers really going to town with this shit at the moment

there is a current ad for Phoenix University that uses the faux jazz voice to sing/speak "If I Only Had a Brain" with dumb new lyrics that is the most embarrassing thing i have ever heard in life.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 19 May 2017 14:13 (five days ago) Permalink

The unintended consequence of that commercial, for me, is thinking 'if you only had a brain, you wouldn't associate yourself in any way with the University of Phoenix'.

human/hutt hybrid (Old Lunch), Friday, 19 May 2017 14:18 (five days ago) Permalink

idk, i think the thread criticism on this has it a little bit backwards. like the postmodern jukebox people are folks who are all barbershop quartet fanatics pat boone-ing contemporary hits? the whole notion of this is that people know and in many cases love carly rae jepsen and they get an excuse to listen to an older, unpopular style of music by hearing carly rae jepsen done in that style.

the closest historical precedent i can think of is liberace, early in his career, doing "cement mixer". that's not the way we think of liberace now, mind.

as for "rap the musical".... :)

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Friday, 19 May 2017 15:22 (five days ago) Permalink

I feel like Pentatonix fits into this. My kiddo loves the video of them on Sesame Street and they seemed pretty charming. Then the autoplay started playing stuff like "ACAPELLA DAFT PUNK MEDLEY" which made me wanna gouge my eyes and ears out. I know this is supposed to be technically impressive and it kinda is but with 400 million views or whatever there must be people out there who really dig this stuff. Different strokes, my friends.

frogbs, Friday, 19 May 2017 15:34 (five days ago) Permalink

I know this is supposed to be technically impressive and it kinda is but with 400 million views or whatever there must be people out there who really dig this stuff

there is a guy that does this with videogame songs and he is huge and gets written up all the time about how skillful this guy must be but it is super obvious that he just auto-tuned his vocals to some MIDI files

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 19 May 2017 16:06 (five days ago) Permalink

I had never heard Liberace's "Cement Mixer," that's amazing! Was Slim Gaillard's original that well known at the time I wonder? (Although his version is really more like Steve Allen mockingly reading the lyrics to "Be Bop A Lula.") xxp

I don't really like any of these albums (Dan Peterson), Friday, 19 May 2017 16:33 (five days ago) Permalink

based on the audience response from the live video of him doing it, they certainly seem to know it pretty well!

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Friday, 19 May 2017 16:47 (five days ago) Permalink

the whole notion of this is that people know and in many cases love carly rae jepsen and they get an excuse to listen to an older, unpopular style of music by hearing carly rae jepsen done in that style.

in the case of my friend who is deeply into this shit, she'd never listen to carly rae jepsen on her own in a million years but postmodern jukebox-style covers provide the veneer of muso chops and knowing distance which make the original i dunno 'respectable' in her opinion

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 16:52 (five days ago) Permalink

i guess another way to say that is that she's enjoying the music despite the original rather than because of it - like the talent of postmodern jukebox allows them to overcome the lacklustre origins of the song by turning it into a smug dinner-jazz atrocity

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 17:18 (five days ago) Permalink

Moog Cookbook's Black Hole Sun > Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun > corny jazz Black Hole Sun

soref, Friday, 19 May 2017 17:29 (five days ago) Permalink

a lot of people think jeff buckley's version of "hallelujah" is the best ever too. as long as you don't act like it's a fucking christmas song i'm fine with that.

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Friday, 19 May 2017 17:36 (five days ago) Permalink

lol I've been needing a new display name, t'anx! xxp

smug dinner-jazz atrocity (Dan Peterson), Friday, 19 May 2017 17:53 (five days ago) Permalink

a lot of people think jeff buckley's version of "hallelujah" is the best ever too. as long as you don't act like it's a fucking christmas song i'm fine with that.

leaving aside for a minute the relative artistic merits of buckley's version, it's not like he was recontextualising the work of disposable pop sensation leonard cohen in the same way postmodern jukebox might say they were for carly rae jepsen, was he?

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 18:13 (five days ago) Permalink

yr welcome dan, use it wisely xp

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 18:14 (five days ago) Permalink

yeh, hecker's "acid in the style of david tudor" falls into this category for me. check it out you will not believe what i have done

massaman gai, Friday, 19 May 2017 18:17 (five days ago) Permalink

noted chart-botherer david tudor

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 18:29 (five days ago) Permalink

600 david tudor fans can't be wrong

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 18:30 (five days ago) Permalink

Steve & Eydie ahead of their time...

to fly across the city and find Aerosmith's car (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 19 May 2017 18:37 (five days ago) Permalink

leaving aside for a minute the relative artistic merits of buckley's version, it's not like he was recontextualising the work of disposable pop sensation leonard cohen in the same way postmodern jukebox might say they were for carly rae jepsen, was he?

― Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara)

do they say that? i don't really follow it that closely, but are they actually promoting their recontextualization as "improving" on the original, or is that just what many of their followers read into it? i mean i don't think even pomplemoose would talk shit about earth, wind, and fire.

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Friday, 19 May 2017 18:56 (five days ago) Permalink

Primary takeaway from this thread imo is that a lot of ILX users know insufferable people who are fans of Youtube cover bands.

Champiness, Friday, 19 May 2017 19:24 (five days ago) Permalink

"know" insufferable people. ha ha.

i have no objection to a good novelty cover from time to time. for instance miche braden's cover of "sweet child o mine", which if it isn't "postmodern jukebox" proper it's close enough as to make no nevermind. somebody is "racist" for preferring braden's rendition to the original, sung by a fucking racist hoosier?

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Friday, 19 May 2017 19:32 (five days ago) Permalink

noted chart-botherer david tudor

― Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, May 19, 2017 6:29 PM (forty-four minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

600 david tudor fans can't be wrong

― Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, May 19, 2017 6:30 PM (forty-three minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

<3

Le Bateau Ivre, Friday, 19 May 2017 19:35 (five days ago) Permalink

for instance miche braden's cover of "sweet child o mine", which if it isn't "postmodern jukebox" proper it's close enough as to make no nevermind. somebody is "racist" for preferring braden's rendition to the original, sung by a fucking racist hoosier?

who are you arguing with here

Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 19 May 2017 19:38 (five days ago) Permalink

The bits of recontextualising that I tend to enjoy (I love live drummers playing drum & bass beats for example) seem to be a completely different beast to most of this stuff. I don't understand the point of the slow ukulele versions of everything - they all sound the same, they never sound remotely exciting, and if it was ever an amusing novelty then it certainly isn't one now.

I like the Senor Coconut Kraftwerk album though. And Nouvelle Vague was ok at the time (dare I revisit it?). Where's the line? Dub Side of The Moon? Hayseed Dixie?

Camaraderie at Arms Length, Friday, 19 May 2017 20:51 (five days ago) Permalink

Primary takeaway from this thread imo is that a lot of ILX users know insufferable people who are fans of Youtube cover bands.

in my experience it is far more common *not* to be a fan

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Friday, 19 May 2017 20:51 (five days ago) Permalink

*more uncommon

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Friday, 19 May 2017 20:51 (five days ago) Permalink

Is this the one that started it all off in its most recent form?

Think people found it hi-lar-i-ous at the time. Not so much now.

Camaraderie at Arms Length, Friday, 19 May 2017 20:54 (five days ago) Permalink

who are you arguing with here

― Drive Your Lover Wild In Bed By Cosplaying As Jeff Lynne

myself, mostly

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Friday, 19 May 2017 21:29 (five days ago) Permalink

Having just seen it on TotP83, is "Only You" by the Flying Pickets tge first example of this?

Mud... Jam... Failure... (aldo), Saturday, 20 May 2017 23:02 (four days ago) Permalink


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