Scott Bradlee: Mashups By Candlelight

A few of our most popular contributors are traveling this weekend for romantic Valentines Day get-a-ways so, in the spirit of romance, PaisleyBlog demands that you listen to Scott Bradlee (Yes, demands! This is the era of 50 Shades of Grey after-all).

Bradlee is a virtuoso, contract piano player out of the Big Apple with sardonic style & erudite prose. Rather than attempt a lame summary I will re-blog a brilliant post Scott wrote regarding.. yes, you guessed it:  Ke$ha.  (Old Blog / New Blog)

I have long had a love/hate relationship with pop music: I loved to hate it. As a music school kid and jazz snob, I wasn’t interested in listening to anything that might appeal to those that I deemed to possess a less refined palette of musical taste. This willful ignorance continued for some time; it was not until I began making YouTube videos (and subsequently receiving requests for modern pop songs) that I decided to check out what the kids are listening to these days.

What I found is that, despite my initial aversion to the stuff I was hearing, I was unable to truly categorize this as “bad music” without first defining a set of arbitrary, culturally-defined criteria. Furthermore, the fact that such a rigorous vetting process exists for the output of major labels indicated that these songs and artists certainly RESONATED with the culture of our times–no easy feat, in and of itself. As a relentless devil’s advocate, I then found that by simply altering the context of the creation of such songs, I could EVEN find some artistic merit inside of them.

To demonstrate this, I now present my argument that Kesha-with-a-dollar-sign COULD be considered an “artist”:


Suppose that Ke$ha was actually a product of an underground group of Luddite artists that spent their evenings lamenting the soul-crushing alienation from all things true and beautiful that modern technology had imposed upon them. Attention spans had withered, sophisticated news items were condensed into 140 characters or less, and the youth of the country had shunned a sense of purpose for outrageous displays of hedonism. A country founded on ingenuity and investment in the future had regressed to an unruly mob of pleasure seekers.

(I know this is a post about Scott but, I’ve got to say, my favorite part of the video is when Ben Golder-Novick pops-up out of nowhere for his saxaphone solo @2:18)*

Enter their protege, Ke$ha (an acronym for, “Kantian Ethics [dollar sign placeholder for symmetry] Hold Authority”). An Ivy League philosophy major-turned-recluse, she nonetheless possessed the looks and necessary lack of social grace to appeal to such a constituency. It was soon decided that she was the only hope to revive the braindead from the lulling glow of instant gratification . But how?? By pulling a bait-and-switch–attracting a fan base with a facade of vapidness, then preaching important truths about the human condition??

No. She would force a paradigm shift by simply giving them what they wanted–an overload of insipid, thoughtless material that seemed to affirm a hedonist lifestyle beyond the point that most would dare desire. The most reliable route to reach the masses? Pop music. And so, the prophetizing began, and the party did not start until she walked in.

(Ke$ha’s Tik-Tok as sung by Rappin’ Albert Einstein)*

Such an effective ruse it was that even her detractors failed to see the multiple levels of irony contained within the lyrics, and the music production that commented on the manufactured, synthetic nature of a consumer society by taking its cue from early 8-bit videogames. As with most types of overindulgence, the sickeningly sweet overload of poor taste triggered a backlash that spread through the ranks of her legions of supporters, which eventually demanded an end to the forcefeeding of superficial culture to which they had grown accustomed…and an end to auto-tune and other technological enhancements of music, as well. The Luddites rejoiced; Ke$ha was a success.


Well, if all this wasn’t enough to make you love this guy, I don’t know what to tell you. His music speaks for itself.

Check out Bradlee’s Bandcamp for an amazing “Vintage ‘Grandpa Style’ Remake” of Seattle’s Macklemore, a stunningly-fantastic jazzpop/rockabilly version, and many more inexpensive/free tunes.

If, as you get older, you find yourself with less answers and more questions, don’t worry- that means you’re doing it right.

And now you know.

*Captions by Architorture.

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