Out of Obscurity

Out of Obscurity header image 1

EHhB1: Vocal Harmony & A Cappella from Jacob Collier & Hyperpotamus

February 24, 2021

Stream our picks here (but do also buy them if you can afford it):   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lYasLPwrQ7z0-pepR1n43ZT-Fdl3QSWnc 



Listen to songs by Hannah Backward:  https://soundcloud.com/hannah-backward 


This episode is the longest one yet, so no worries if you want to skip to parts that interest you.

Structure:  Background, JC’s YouTube videos, Tiny Desk concerts (up to 8:30); Instrumental & vocal virtuosity and technical skill, guests in the studio, parental appreciation of JC (8:29-12:05); Popularity with musicians but not yet the general public, the relevance of Grammy Awards, can jazz musicians be superstars?, Hannah’s listening habits & favorites (12:05-17:20); Close listening as opposed to background music, situations when she listens to music or podcasts, complexity/quality/desire to listen to something, impressiveness versus what music she could have done herself (17:20-22:40); Music as “a coloring book” with rules and whether or not it’s art, which prominent artists “can’t sing”?  (22:40-30:55); A tasty dish according to J.Gold is likelier w/ a smaller number of ingredients?  Not so for music?  (30:55-33:00); the album “Djesse Vol.2” and shifting preferences in its songs, African cultural appropriation, Gospel & Kanye (33:00-38:06); Is JC “obscure enough” for OoO? (38:06-39:10); “Here Comes the Sun” & cover songs generally, can a young person cover standards and classics with gravitas and sufficient emotion? An instrument versus a voice conveying emotions with words, vocal affectation and experimentation, subtle variations in harmony (39:10-49:26); More music education in public schools to understand JC’s music?  Musical talent versus academic study.  Musicals and being outed as a non-fan of Randy Rainbow (49:26-56:58); The album as a whole, Hannah cares not for genre or DJ Poseur’s activism, vocal loops by JC and Sparks, workout music & repetition  (56:58-1:03:19); Do we like music music that we want to make ourselves? More “amp you up” workout music, Hannah rejects more categories and dichotomies but is an album listener, what do we skip and why? (1:03:19-1:07:18); R&B on the radio & DJ Poseur’s Beijing roommate revenge for Mariah Carey, R&B and JC’s commercial success, videos of the musicians playing the song, JC’s discography (1:07:18-1:14:22); Hannah’s rating system will not be forthcoming (1:14:22-1:18:17); Could DJ Poseur like an album by an artist he doesn’t like?  His rating of “Djesse Vol.2” in a roundabout way through middle school music class (1:18:17-1:24:05); Transition between picks, skinny dark-haired white dudes who sing a lot, Hyperpotamus covering The Beatles and other familiar pop songs versus JC’s ways, cringeworthy comparisons of awe and musical skillz (1:24:05-1:35:30); pop music versus opera in vocal virtuosity, obscure/hidden talents versus being “world best” at something everyone (thinks they) can do, how to go viral with a music video or not (1:35:30-1:41:57); Specs for “Delta” and general thoughts on a cappella’s fit with “pop” or “experimental” music (1:41:57-1:46:14); “Delta” versus “Largo Bailón” and “taking drums literally” , novelty albums and formulaic songwriting, unexpected bassline placement, love-themed lyrics, a cappella & psychic powers (1:46:14-1:55:15); Noisier elements and when do his loops come together and sound like a song?, RIYLS with vocal loops or pedal board composition (1:55:15-1:59:14); Attempts at rating and comparison between album picks, revisiting whether the possibility of one being able to make a particular kind of music oneself as a musician influences liking it, Hannah’s a cappella history and ambition (1:59:14-2:02:56); DJ Poseur’s rating of “Delta”, what’s annoying enough to turn off or skip?  For Hannah, it’s autotune. (2:02:56 to end)


Disclaimer article for JC being too popular/well known for OoO:  https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/nov/28/jacob-collier-grammy-nomination-best-album


JC’s cover of “Here Comes the Sun”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXf1nUVdVuM 

Hyperpotamus’ cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zr9syen5Lw 

Hyperpotamus’ most-viewed music video (91k views, not 40k as DJ Poseur misspeaks) “In the Time”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK_bkWreCdo  


RIYL for JC:  Nickel Creek, old musicals (for Djesse v.2)  more generally...Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, funky/soulful 1970s jazz/R&B, The Manhattan Transfer, PM Dawn, Sonik Boom of Love

RIYL Hyperpotamus:  A Cappella music, Emily Wells, Pentatonix, Chanticlear, Rag Fair, Björk's "Medúlla"


For reference, DJ Poseur gets the scale wrong when comparing the number of views for YouTube videos.  As of late Feb. 2021, “Gangnam Style” and “Baby Shark” are in the billions, not hundreds of millions like Pentatonix.  Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 2” has about 25 thousand views.  Hyperpotamus’ “Delta” album has a little over a dozen views.