We’re living in the age of the YouTube famous, a time when a music group with enough talent and originality can go viral overnight. That’s the case with Postmodern Jukebox, a band that puts old-time twists on current pop songs. But they’re more than a viral YouTube phenomenon; their lead singer is actually a Binghamton University graduate.
They turned Ke$ha country, mixed Irish pub style with Daft Punk and gave Nickelback a touch of Motown. Postmodern Jukebox owes their rise to fame to their refreshingly original pop covers and to the vocal talents of the lead singer, Robyn Adele Anderson, who graduated in 2011.
”Postmodern Jukebox actually originated as a musical concept created by our bandleader/pianist Scott Bradlee,” Anderson wrote in an email. “He came up with the term some years ago when he first started covering songs in different genres. I loved the idea but didn’t get involved until February of this year when Scott first asked me to be in a video (our vintage ‘Thrift Shop’ cover) and we’ve continued to make videos together ever since.”
In their most-viewed video, Postmodern Jukebox transports viewers back to the 1950s with their take on Miley Cyrus’ infamous party anthem, “We Can’t Stop.” The band classes it up, trading in twerking for some old-style boogieing. The video garnered over five million hits on YouTube, and even catapulted the band onto “Good Morning America,” where they performed their doo-wop cover live. It might even be better than the original.
“The creative process of these videos is actually pretty simple,” Anderson wrote. “First Scott and I pick a song that we think would be popular (either a song everyone loves or everyone hates.) Scott then creates a musical arrangement, while I create or alter the melody (especially if it’s a rap song). Then we all get together in Scott’s apartment, run it a few times, and then film it!”
Though Robyn Adele is crooning and doo-wopping now, her Binghamton years weren’t consumed with voice training. She was actually involved in many different organizations on campus.
“I was on the Student Ambassador E-Board, was a study abroad peer adviser, choreographed for Children’s Dance Theater and danced with IFD [International Flag Dancers],” Anderson wrote. “I have so many awesome memories (and a few inappropriate ones) that it’s hard to pick one, but I definitely loved every second at Bing!”
For students passionate about a career in music, Anderson is living proof that you don’t need to major in voice to chase your dreams of stardom.
“To anyone planning on pursuing a career in singing/stage performing, all I can say is that you don’t need a degree in those things to be famous on YouTube,” Anderson wrote.
So keep your eye on the Billboard Top 40, because the next No. 1 song will probably be the band’s next viral hit.
“Postmodern Jukebox will definitely continue to make videos and hopefully play more live gigs,” Anderson wrote. “I really love playing with the band and I love doing covers so I hope to keep doing that for a while.”
And while Postmodern Jukebox is only the latest Binghamton-affiliated group to make it big, who knows? The next YouTube star could be you.