What do you think of when you hear “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus? Twerking, teddy bears, tongue… doo-wop? New York composer and musician Scott Bradlee and his Postmodern Jukebox project takes current Top 40 hits and re-imagines them as coming from older eras of popular music. For instance, Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky” turns into an Irish drinking song, while Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” throws back to a ragtime romp. It’s oddly infectious and quite viral — “We Can’t Stop” currently has more than 4 million views on YouTube.
Crossover cover songs have become popular on YouTube lately. But as Bradlee tells NPR’s Audie Cornish, “[Jazz] musicians were taking Broadway songs, which were the pop music of the day, and they were transforming them, re-harmonizing them in ways that made them sound like jazz. This is just an extension of that tradition.”