A Young Person’s Guide to PMJ
By Rachel Frazin
What I love most about Postmodern Jukebox is how it appeals to people of all ages. I love that no matter how crazy lyrics can be, the music still sounds timeless. Each age group, however, interprets the songs and their lyrics differently. For the older generations, they may be reminded of the sound of songs from their childhood, but with a twist of modern lyrics. (“you used to call me on your cellphone” in 1940’s swing?)
Growing up on the pop music of the 2000s through the present day, I hear something very different. I hear that song from our high school dance, the song that’s played at the football game, or the song that I rocked out to in the car with our friends. PMJ takes current songs and stays true to the lyrics, but transports me back to the generation of my grandparents or parents.
My whole view of music has expanded since my first tumble down the PMJ rabbit hole, watching video after video. I quickly got hooked because PMJ makes today’s music sound brand new, a kind of music I typically wouldn’t have heard, but with the familiarity of something I already enjoy.
For some of my peers, not familiar with the great hits of the past, this may be the only exposure they have to other genres of music, like ‘doo wop’, ‘vintage’, ‘jazz’, ‘motown’, and ‘ragtime’. PMJ opens them up to a whole new world, which actually inspires respect for their elders, instead of “how did you manage before the internet?”.
This reintroduction of classic music is rocking our generation and teaching us the meaning of style; after all, young people (and older folk!) are often subjected to the pop music on the radio. It is true that Scott Bradlee and the members of PMJ use the popular styles of days past, such as soul, swing, and early rock n’ roll, but since there are so many more decades to take influence from, they have a more eclectic selection of melodies to work with.
Like most, my introduction to music was handed down from my parents. My musical education varied from them blasting Zeppelin on the way to school, driving to the mountains with Motown, or cruising down the highway to the tunes of the Beatles. Their influence has played a big part in my love of music and in turn my love of PMJ. The music of my childhood has helped shape my musical tastes as an adult.
PMJ has truly given me a basis on which to build upon and I’m super excited to see what new songs they can interpret and transform, and what new musical style that introduces me to as a result. I love the constant process of learning new music by learning about older music.
If I had one suggestion for those parents wanting to get your kids into PMJ, maybe give them some of your old CDs or your parent’s records. I think as long as we open our ears and our minds to listen, we will see that the fusion of styles PMJ does is the future and it’s never sounded better.
Rachel Frazin is an aspiring filmmaker living in Jerusalem, Israel. She enjoys musical theatre, and can be found online here