5 Vintage Takes on Modern Songs

August 06, 2013


One of the sneakiest tricks up an entertainment agency’s sleeve is ‘Vintigification’ – that act of ‘Vintigifying’ something in order to make it more palatable to different generations, tastes and musical sensibilities. You see, not everyone likes *Modern Beat Combo X*, some finding their brand of *Modern Music Genre Y* to be shrill and grating. Similarly, not everyone likes Dixieland Jazz, some finding it a little quaint. But a Dixieland style cover of *Modern Beat Combo X*? That’s something everyone can get on board with.

By taking something modern and passing it through the musical play dough factory of an Old-Timey genre, you’re often able to find the coveted centre of an event guest Venn diagram – a musical prejudice blind-spot where anything goes and people who traditionally hated queen are tapping their feet to a Balkan Brass version of Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

So today we’re offering up 5 vintage versions of modern pop tunes performed by some of our favourite acts – take a listen and let us know yours!

  Gypsies of Bohemia – The Promise

Gypsy jazz troubadours and new additions to the Sternberg Clarke website Gypsies of Bohemia specialise in just this sort of vintigification (which I swear to God, I’m going to use enough times that it’ll become a real word) taking pop tunes like Girls Alouds The Promise and turning it into something Django Reinhardt might have released between stints as a judge on the 1920s version of the X-Factor alongside, I dunno... Coco Channel and Ernest Hemmingway? Man, I’d like to watch the 1920s version of the X-Factor.

 Elle and the Pocket Belles – Walk This Way

Another group with a knack for taking a modern song and sending it hurtling back through time, Elle and The Pocket Belles’ ingenious arrangements of modern songs are so accomplished that they even manage to turn Steven Tyler’s avian squawk into something altogether more tuneful. Such is the vintigification (yup) of the Aerosmith anthem that were it not for a mention of a “skirt right up to the knee”, you’d assume the song was written during the 1930s. Which of course it couldn’t be because women knew how to dress appropriately back then and you could take your sweetheart to dinner, catch a talkie then take the sharra-bang home and still get change from a tuppence.

 Hassall Jazz - Billie Jean

As smooth a criminal as the dearly departed MJ may be, clearly he wasn’t smooth enough for the members of Hassall Jazz who turned The King of Pop’s 1982 hit Billie Jean (not Smooth Criminal) into a lounge jazz ditty so smooth, it’d be criminal not to take a listen. If it’s not already obvious, I was kind of hoping they’d recorded a cover of Smooth Criminal, but upon discovering they had, in fact covered Billie Jean, decided to keep the Smooth Criminal references in there anyways.

 The Javas – Single Ladies

Following Jay-Z’s curatorship of The Great Gatsby soundtrack, Hip Hop and Rn’B were momentarily thrust into the jazz age with horn parps and banjo strums taking the place of the usual samples. And so, in much the same way that Beyonce can take inspiration from swing and jazz, swing and jazz can take inspiration from Beyonce as evidence by this gypsy swing version of Single Ladies by The Javas. With nothing but a guitar and a violin, the Javas conjure the spirit of Stéphane Grappelli’s collaborations with Django Reinhardt but reimagines Django and Stéphane as a pair of... no that’s not worth getting in to.

 The La De Dahs – Song 2

It may seem obvious that a group call the La De Dah’s should cover a song where the most memorable line is “Woo Hoo” but the vocal harmony trio and the late 90s Brit Pop anthem are a match made in vintage-gobbledygook-cover-version heaven which is a place and I’ve been there. Transforming the squalling feedback and excitable howls of the original into a gently cooed vintage three part harmony, the La De Dahs channel all of Blur’s raucous aggression into something you could sing a baby to sleep with.

For more info on booking any of these acts for corporate events or private functions, head over to our contact page and get in touch.

By Garreth Owen.