Favorite non-operatic artists #3: The YouTube Stars

Hey, everyone! Today you’re gonna learn more about my non-operatic interests which I’m listening to on my mp3 player at this moment. What’s surprising about them is that both music bands are from YouTube. I have to admit that earlier in my life I was too sceptical about so-called «YouTube stars». I thought they were mostly untalented. But about 3 years ago I discovered «the other side» of YouTube and it changed my mind completely. Now I’m open to unknown and gifted artists who make music just because they love it. The most successful of them are now releasing their own CDs and even going on tours! And that’s incredible and proves that the real talent will find its audience anyway!!!

The Piano Guys is an American music group consisting of Jon Schmidt (pianist, songwriter), Steven Sharp Nelson (cellist, songwriter), Paul Anderson (producer, videographer), and Al van der Beek (music producer, songwriter). The story of how they met is very interesting. Paul Anderson owned a piano shop called «The Piano Guys». One day Jon Schmidt came in his shop and asked if he could play an instrument there to practice before the upcoming concert. Paul was so impressed by Jon’s playing that he suggested him making music videos as a promotion for the shop and Jon’s talent. They agreed. Later they were joined by Jon’s friend Steven Sharp Nelson and Al van der Beek as a music technician. Working together, they’ve quickly become popular within Youtube fans. By now their channel has reached over 700 million views! In 2012 The Piano Guys signed the contract with Sony and they’ve already released several albums.
These guys are famous for their unique interpretation of pop songs like «What makes you beautiful» by OneDirection, «Just the way you are» by Bruno Mars and for absolutely stunning mash-ups where they demonstrate their classical background: Let it Go (Disney’s Frozen)/ Vivaldi’s Winter, Beethoven’s 5 Secrets – OneRepublic etc. I love the way one melody turns into another one in mash-ups like it was originally composed so. Besides, The Piano Guys often collaborate with folk artists to add some ethnic motifs to the sound. And that works great as well! The most striking examples are «Peponi» (the African cover of Coldplay’s «Paradise») and «Don't You Worry Child (Khushnuma)» (the Indian version of Swedish House Mafia’s hit).
But I think the music arrangements are only a half of their success. The other half definitely belongs to a visual side of their works. Paul Anderson has always wanted to shoot videos in the most unusual and ambitious places on earth. So that’s why many clips are filmed near natural landmarks (like The Iguazu Falls in Brazil), the Wonders of the World (like The Great Wall of China) or near historical monuments (The Sri Sri Radha Krsna Temple). The views are just mind-blowing there!!! I can hardly imagine how they transported the piano and other things to achieve this incredible outcome! Even if you are not interested in covers like that, you should watch their videos to at least admire the beauty of our planet! So these «Guys» are real workaholics and they deserve each view they have on the YouTube channel.

Scott Bradley’s Postmodern Jukebox or just PMJ is an American group that I’m listening to non-stop right now. «I make music sound old» - says the PMJ’s leader Scott Bradley on his tweeter page. And that’s true. Bradley has always been fond of jazz, blues, whereas his classmates preferred pop, r’n’b. To unite people of different tastes in music he started playing covers of popular songs in the styles of jazz, ragtime, swing firstly at school and later at restaurants. Then he decided to go bigger and formed a band «Postmodern Jukebox». The group began posting music videos on YouTube and gradually they gained popularity! By this time, PMJ has about 300 million views and over 1.4 million subscribers! Scott Bradley with his colleagues goes on tours to North America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe and releases EP albums.
Why do I love this band so much? As I’ve mentioned before I’m a huge fan of jazz and PMJ transforms songs in such a fantastic way that I can’t listen to original arrangements of the hits anymore! Besides promoting jazz to the masses, Bradley likes introducing not so widely known but talented musicians to his audience. Especially, it concerns the soloists. Haley Reinhart, Morgan James, Robyn Adele Anderson – due to the beautiful voices and appearances these girls have already become favorites for many PMJ fans. Among other amazing artists of this project I’d like to mention a tap dancer Sarah Reich. She is such an adorable and charismatic person that you can’t take your eyes off her when she is doing her job!
Bradley and Co are very thoughtful not only about the musical presentation of their videos but also about the visual component. Depending on a chosen music style, they wear the appropriate clothes whether it is 20s, 40s or 50s. Altogether, it looks «old-fashioned» in the best sense of this word;).

P.S. Guys, do you know these groups and what do you think of them? Could you recommend me other gifted musicians from YouTube who are worth listening to? 

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