A reminder that music should be fun
The comedy-meets-music podcast Punch Up the Jam provides the recipe for the perfect podcast by covering everything from the cosmic implications of “A Thousand Miles” to toxic masculinity, to the porno name for “Minority Report” while simultaneously never getting anywhere of significance.
The hour-long podcast, which is neither entirely music review nor pure comedy, spends its time dissecting a single track down to its bones and provides a “punched up” parody version of the song by one of the hosts.
The dynamic comedy duo Miel Bredouw, who paved her way to stardom through Vine and YouTube, and Demi Adejuyigbe, who’s best known for his writing on the NBC sitcom The Good Place, provide the thorough musical analysis in each episode, despite having no musical background to speak of.
For the meat of the podcast, Bredouw and Adejuyigbe, usually accompanied by a guest co-host, breakdown an individual song, line by line, riff by riff, conspiracy by conspiracy, and attempt to scrape out the underlying meaning of the track. What did Vanessa Carlton mean when she sang “I drown in your memory” in “A Thousand Miles”? Was the line “Well if you told me you were drowning / I would not lend a hand,” in Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” meant to be taken literally?
In the “Mr. Brightside” episode, the hosts get snagged on the first few lines: “Coming out of my cage / I’ve been doing just fine.” For a bulk of the podcast, the discussion revolves around what the “cage” signified. The co-hosts brought up the possibility of it alluding to a paranoid boyfriend trying to overcome his pessimistic attitude and in effect becoming Mr. Brightside.
Even more in-depth, was the track being a continuation of a popular fan theory, which postulated that the album Hot Fuzz laid out how a lost love turned into a cold-blooded murder.
In the end, Bredouw suggested “the cage” could represent a literal cage and presents her “punched up” version of the song from the voice of a pet gerbil, whose cries for freedom go ignored as he’s forced to watch his owner’s life through a voyeuristic lens.
Sometimes the podcast gets bogged down in literality, which more often than not create hilarious scenarios. When breaking down the line “Cause you know I’d walk a thousand miles,” in the “A Thousand Miles” episode, Bredouw interrogates the feasibility of a human being literally walking 1,000 miles. In the end, she deduced it would take a person at least 40 days of walking non-stop—sorry Vanessa, no one’s worth that.
Even more ridiculous is the idea of actually pouring sugar all over yourself, as suggested by the iconic Def Leppard song, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”—turns out it isn’t so sexy.
After successfully (or often unsuccessfully) nailing down a central thesis for the track, the hosts unveil their “punched up” tracks: parodies that tend to focus on a single theme. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” becomes a person’s unhealthy obsession with sugar; “Mr. Brightside” focuses on a traumatized gerbil; while “In the Air Tonight” becomes a loop around the epic drum solo.
Punch Up the Jam doesn’t take itself too seriously but is ultimately a reminder of how fun music can be.