The Postal Service, Anne Hathaway and More Team Up for Painfully Awkward PSA to Vote

After teasing a surprise on Tuesday, indie-pop supergroup The Postal Service unveiled a 19-minute, celebrity-filled PSA on Wednesday, encouraging people to get out and vote. Too bad the band's fans are less than excited about watching a 19-minute PSA.

The video references the 2013 video that the band took part in to promote the reissue of their lone album, 2003's Give Up. That clip spoofed the idea of band auditions, and featured musicians and comedians performing mock tryouts to join the group.

This new PSA, produced with Headcount and written by Tom Scharpling, features comedian and actor Jon Daly reprising his role as a Sub Pop label executive and the band's three members—Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, electronic artist Jimmy Tamborello and indie-rock queen Jenny Lewis—all sitting on a Zoom call. Daly insists on the band going on a tour to get people to vote, and expanding the number of people in the group.

The way-too-long video then features a number of cameos from musicians across genres, like Slash and Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses, Japanese Breakfast, Rick Springfield, Kenny G and more. A number of bits are references to the 2013 video, including Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster reprising his role as Denny Rock, an offbeat goof, and the label exec not realizing that McKagan was actually in Guns N' Roses.

We can't really hate on anyone encouraging people to vote, and there are some funny moments, like comedian Aparna Nancherla singing both parts from Hamilton's "Aaron Burr, Sir," Jenny Lewis earnestly offering Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis a spot in the band only for him to decline, and Wurster's energetic performance. But too many parts are just downright cringeworthy. Interactions like Daly asking "Weird Al" Yankovic to write a parody on the spot, or Saturday Night Live's Vanessa Bayer performing an airy audition come off as awkward. It's occasionally enjoyable to hear artists like Caroline Polachek playing Postal Service songs, but the interruptions from Daly usually ruin the flow.

If you do make it through the nearly 20-minute video (why is it 20 minutes, again?), there is a surprise cameo from Anne Hathaway, in which she auditions by accidentally singing Iron & Wine's cover of the Postal Service's own "Such Great Heights." At the very least, it's jarring to suddenly have her show up.

After Tuesday's tease, though, some fans were hoping for news of a reunion tour (whenever that could happen down the line) or maybe even a brand new album. Needless to say, they were incredibly disappointed that the hype was merely for a very long PSA. Critic and author Steven Hyden tried to find a silver lining, though—he tweeted that at least Gibbard didn't put together an "Imagine" singalong, like the star-studded video that came out back in March and that was mocked across the Internet.

The bright side of that Postal Service video is that Ben Gibbard didn't make all of the celebs sing "Imagine."

— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) October 7, 2020

the postal service got everyone thinking they were doing a comeback and they're literally just doing a 20 minute voting PSA LMAOOOO

— rosemarie™ (@ratcastlequeen) October 7, 2020

the postal service teasing an announcement only to make some voting PSA is some extreme brain worms shit and i might actually Give Up

— james cassar 🅴 (@getcerebral) October 7, 2020

Postal Service are back baby!!!! [much quieter voice] ʷᶦᵗʰ ᵃ ᵍᵉᵗ ᵒᵘᵗ ᵗʰᵉ ᵛᵒᵗᵉ ᶻᵒᵒᵐ ˢᵏᵉᵗᶜʰ ˢʰᵒʷ

— luke oneil (@lukeoneil47) October 7, 2020

Sub Pop did not respond to Newsweek's emailed request for comment in time for publication.

Postal Service
Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service performs live at the Sasquatch Music Festival at The Gorge on May 27, 2013 in George, Washington. Getty/Suzi Pratt/WireImage