I don't tend to click on song videos that scroll by on Facebook. But for some reason, I did the other day. I didn't know the singer, didn't know the group, didn't know the song. But it looked interesting, and the brief mention in the text from the group about how the singer gave one of their best vocals ever struck my interest. And so I clicked. And am really glad I did.
It was for a group called PostModern Jukebox, with the lead singer Sara Niemietz. From what I subsequently read, they take current songs and arrange them to be in the style generally of music from the 1920s and 1930 -- jazz, big band, swing, that sort of thing, with New Orleans style, Dixieland and others thrown in -- done by the group's leader Scott Bradlee. (That's him at the piano.) Also, it turns out that they use a bunch of different lead singers, depending either, I suppose, on who fits the song best or when they're available. Most are women, but a few are men, maybe 8-10 or so. I watched quite a few videos on their website, all were very good, but...Sara Niemietz for my taste was far-and-away the best. And for this particular song, she did nail it. It did indeed seem to be one of the best of their vocal performances I saw, as she just wailed her way through with texture, style and joyful, infectious enthusiasm. I did seem to pick the right video to click on.
I learned a bit more about the song and some of its history -- which some of you might know, since they've been around for five years with 2.8 million subscribers on their YouTube channel -- but I'll get into that after the video. First though, here it is so that you can watch it fresh, as I did.
It turns out that the song is from Justin Bieber, one that he performed and co-wrote about an unnamed ex-girlfriend. (I know it gives his name in the heading, but that didn't appear in the version I saw.) Also, what this article relates, it seems that someone (maybe the group itself, but it isn't clear) put out a black-and-white version of this video and used filters to make it look old, saying that it came from the Library of Congress Archive and that the Bieber version was actually a cover of this original. And it got -- according to the article -- 5 million views! (This color version didn't do nearly as well, though still well enough to have 700,000 hits.)
The video was recorded last year when Sara Niemitz was all of 24. She grew up in Chicago -- yes, yes, I know, I was surprised and pleased about that, but hey, we don't make this stuff up... in fact I think she was even born in the northern suburbs! -- where he also did some acting. When she was nine, she played a character based on 7-year-old Carol Burnett in the play, Hollywood Arms, based on Burnett's memoirs -- and stayed with the production when it went to Broadway. And when she was a young teenager, she had a role in the film, Akeelah and the Bee, among other things. But music has been her main focus. However, her performing background shows in all her videos. (And I checked out quite a few on her website. Her songs range from her own original material to some absolutely fresh covers.)
I'll be posting a few others upcoming. But for those in the Los Angeles, you might like to know that she has a new album being released in about a week, and will be having a "release concert" in Hollywood at the Hotel Cafe on July 7. How's that for good timing? You can get more information here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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