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Postmodern Jukebox Takes On Klezmer

Since last year, YouTube sensation Postmodern Jukebox has been creating innovative covers of modern pop music by applying contrasting musical stylings to contemporary works—from a smooth jazz cover of the Game of Thrones theme to a 1940s swing adaptation of Madonna's “Like a Prayer.” In recent months, Postmodern Jukebox released a klezmer inspired cover of Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" accompanied by segments of Yiddish translation. As I watched the video accumulate over a million views on YouTube, I became interested in exploring what went into the production of this inventive and unlikely pairing. 

On Postmodern Jukebox's website, their creator Scott Bradlee gives us a behind the scenes peek into what elements went into their klezmer adaptation of Jason Derulo's hit. For Bradlee, the project was a learning experience: "I wound up learning a lot about klezmer music and its cross-pollination with jazz in the process of making this video. This genre was always of interest to me because of its influence on several of the themes from George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which – as some of you know – was the piece that made me want to study music." 

Featuring klezmer specialists on clarinet [Jay Rattman], violin [David Wong], and accordion [Kate Dunphy], this version of “Talk Dirty” also highlights vocals by Kate Adele Anderson, who translated 2 Chainz's original rap into Yiddish from her own knowledge of German. While the original lyrics of Derulo's “Talk Dirty” are rife with the language of objectification, Postmodern Jukebox's take on the tune as performed by a female vocalist breathes new life and a fresh sensibility into this contemporary jam. 

Postmodern Jukebox's recent klezmer release has spread like wildfire across the internet, to the delight of casual listeners and klezmer fanatics alike. While thoughts regarding this combination of stylings are likely varied, Postmodern Jukebox's recent cover can hopefully serve as a catalyst to spark an interest in klezmer for new viewers and listeners. 

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Postmodern Jukebox
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Scott Brandlee's Postmodern Jukebox.

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How to cite this page

Fitzpatrick, Kelly. "Postmodern Jukebox Takes On Klezmer." 8 July 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 22, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/postmodern-jukebox-takes-on-klezmer>.

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