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Strange Requests

An electro-pop band puts on an unorthodox show for hotel guests

Author James Sturz

ILLUSTRATION BY PETER OUMANSKI

NEW YORK CITY—Jason Huber and Jordan Kelley have developed a habit of singing in unlikely places. The Nashville-based electro-pop duo known as Cherub has performed on a Ferris wheel, in hot tubs and at a hair salon in Guadalajara. Accordingly, the musicians seem at ease with their latest gig: a two-day residency at the W in Times Square, during which they’ll be the hotel’s Human Jukebox.

Wearing neon-laced high-tops and draped with gold chains, Huber and Kelley take requests via Twitter—guests tweet their location in the hotel and the song they want played—then show up and start warbling. Tunes performed include covers of songs by Frankie Valli, Cyndi Lauper and Outkast, as well as Cherub originals. When asked what they do when not performing weird gigs, the 24-year-old Huber responds, “Whiskey, champagne and shenanigans.” Kelley, 25, solemnly agrees.

Over the course of an evening, there’s hardly a single spot in the hotel that the Human Jukebox isn’t summoned to. There are performances in the fitness center and the lobby, and even atop a luggage cart that ends up being rolled out the front door and through Times Square. The two musicians remain unfazed—although Huber admits that he finds being asked to perform in the elevator “a little creepy.”

The following morning, the Human Jukebox transforms into the Human Alarm Clock, ready to deploy to guests’ rooms to belt out wake-up songs in bathrobes, slippers and argyle socks. Just before the first call of the day, the duo admit they didn’t get much sleep the night before. “Dear Body,” Kelley sings, closing his eyes and trembling with feigned emotion. “Sorry for last night. I know what I did just wasn’t right.”

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FALLEN ARCHES
The demise of the world’s most glamorous burger joint

MILAN—A young man is standing between a bull’s hind legs—or, specifically, the legs of a bull mosaic on the floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a chic shopping arcade in this Italian city. “It’s tradition that if you spin around three times you will have good luck,” explains his female companion. The man’s spinning, though, keeps getting interrupted by the crowd making its way into a nearby café, which has ornate moldings, arched windows and a golden “M.”

Milan’s McDonald’s might be the world’s most stylish fast-food joint— which still isn’t stylish enough for this city, apparently. The eatery is bowing out to make way for a Prada store, and the people jostling to get inside are here for the closing-down burgers being handed out. The guy standing on the mosaic, hampered by the crowd, does not get to complete his good-luck twirl. He also fails to get a free Big Mac. The myth of the bull, it appears, is true. —JAMES WILLIAMS

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