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Smily chap does Youtube post produced pop a cappella slickly.
January 8, 2012 2:29 AM   Subscribe

"Youtube Musician" Mike Tompkins uses his "voice and mouth" (not to mention a teensy bit of post production) to cover well known pop songs. Whilst obviously far, far from the first to do this sort of thing, his videos - Coldplay's Paradise and Adele's Rolling in the Deep, for example - are perhaps unusually polished affairs, and make much of his facial expressiveness, which apparently comes from his involvement in theatre at an early age.

And is 'Youtube Musician' a thing now? I like that.
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots (21 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mike Tompkins quite talented, and so is Adele, whose music I enjoy... but that string of words "bringing me out the dark" has always bugged me. Am I missing something, or does that strike anyone else as meaningless and illiterate?
posted by watt_defalk at 3:28 AM on January 8, 2012


I don't understand Watt. "Bringing me out the door" is a good analogue and completely intelligible to me.
posted by taff at 3:34 AM on January 8, 2012


I guess it depends on whether or not you understand the meaning of "out the dark" as a verb or as a noun (place).

It makes complete sense to me in either context, but the latter would require you to assume they're dropping the "of" (as in: out of the dark) for either extraneous syllabic content or just simple street cred, yo.
posted by Blue_Villain at 4:51 AM on January 8, 2012


More self made pop stars yes please!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:39 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly sure it's just an elision of the "of". In speech Adele seems to shift mainly between a North London accent and the Multicultural London English popularly called "Jafaican". Both these dialects will frequent elide the v sound in "of" in casual speech, particularly when it occurs before another "v" sound or the voiced "th" sound you get in "the" and "there". In rapid speech particularly, this may be accompanied by an almost complete elision of the schwa that is left to represent the "o".

So yeah, probably just the influence of the way she talks on the way she writes lyrics.
posted by howfar at 6:43 AM on January 8, 2012


My kids' music teacher introduced them to Mike Tompkins last year at school and for weeks afterward they were telling everyone they met about this really cool guy who does these songs and he sings all the parts. We have had his versions of Dynamite, Firework and Fireflies playing nearly constantly in our house for months. They vastly prefer his covers to the originals.
posted by Dojie at 6:50 AM on January 8, 2012


I bet this guy catches a lot of crap from the peanut gallery - as, it seems, do most people who use YT to short-circuit the Pre-digested Routes To Stardom - because he is indeed creative, talented and hard-working.

Pretty impressive work. Steve Martin face, meet Wierd Al productions. Enjoy the Jealousy Gauntlet.
posted by Twang at 7:03 AM on January 8, 2012


Well, not to hate or anything, but for me, I'd like it a bit less squooshed through every processor in the rack. Whatever. Good on him.
posted by Trochanter at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree Trochanter. If it felt less perfected and more real (subjective terms I know), it'd be more satisfying for me.
posted by howfar at 7:21 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The quality level of "amateur" productions these days is starting to frighten me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:14 AM on January 8, 2012


Thank you, mefi-ers, for bringing me outa my dark state of confusion regarding the second line of Adele's "Rolling." I got so hung up wondering if she meant 'brings out the darkness in me' that I missed the more obvious reading.
Of course adding another syllable ("out of" or "outa") in that line would have ruined the very fine rhythm. I have no such excuse for having written "Mike Tompkins quite talented" in my first post :)
posted by watt_defalk at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2012


More to the topic at hand, I agree with Trochanter & howfar: if his material was less slick and overproduced, it might share a more genuine sense of fun.
posted by watt_defalk at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2012


Trochanter: “Well, not to hate or anything, but for me, I'd like it a bit less squooshed through every processor in the rack. Whatever. Good on him.”

howfar: “I agree Trochanter. If it felt less perfected and more real (subjective terms I know), it'd be more satisfying for me.”

He doesn't really use Youtube as a medium, and this was only one album in a career (so far) of neat stuff, but – if Mike Tompkins were a bit less overproduced and a bit more organic and also didn't do covers (and maybe added a spare marimba) the result would be something very like the Chilean / German / Argentine producer Matias Aguayo's fantastic 2009 album, Ay Ay Ay. Rollerskate and Menta Latte are only the the two catchiest songs; the whole record is fantastic, and I highly recommend checking it out if you like this kind of thing.
posted by koeselitz at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2012


koselitz: Aguayo also guest stars on Battles' latest record, on Ice Cream [NSFW video, catchy song though].
posted by SomaSoda at 10:22 AM on January 8, 2012


His expressions seemed over the top and a little inappropriate to the vibe of the song to me. But he must have a strong stomach---if I had to see eight of my own face singing and leering at me like that I would surely retch and make for the forest to die in hermithood.
posted by TheRedArmy at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alaa Wardi's cover of Nancy Ajram's Fu Hagat is my favorite example of this. Don't understand the words, but it is awesome in any language!
posted by Quasimike at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2012


A one-man boy band! The marvels of our age, they are nonstop.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2012


Trochanter: Well, not to hate or anything, but for me, I'd like it a bit less squooshed through every processor in the rack. Whatever. Good on him.

Howfar: I agree Trochanter. If it felt less perfected and more real (subjective terms I know), it'd be more satisfying for me.


Er, except that according the "voice and mouth" link, above, it's not actually slick, or overproduced, or sqooshed through multiple processors. The perfection you are not hating on seems to be his actual talent and skill at creating sounds. He shifts a clone of the bass track down an octave, and the synth track up an octave. But that's pretty much it. And it's just recorded in layers into a mike in his basement. if you don't like it, or it's not satisfying, then whatever, but you're being pretty dismissive of what seems to be his actual vocal ability. He's making those "overproduced" sounds himself, without processors.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2012


There is no way to "shift" a vocal up or down an octave - especially if you don't want to change the speed of the vocal - without running it through a processor of some kind. Moreover, it is fairly clear from other videos (and even from the how-to video, though it isn't described) that he is using other processing, too; it sounds like he's tweaking tone, putting more treble or bass on certain vocals, flattening stuff or pushing to the foreground with more compression. And, yeah, I hear a lot of compression, too.
posted by koeselitz at 3:05 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's not actually slick, or overproduced, or sqooshed through multiple processors

Not buying it. Further to koeselitz, he's autotuned at least on the Katy Perry cover. He's electronically doubling the lead vocal an octave up in the chorus. On at least a few of the backing tracks it sounds like he's taking the reverb return solo. (I can tell by some of the pixels.)

It's not a big deal, and what he is doing is still pretty cool. There's a skill to working those tools.
posted by Trochanter at 3:48 PM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I allow Tompkins is a very talented performer, BUT: Very obviously auto-tuned, and Very Obviously LIP-SYNCHED. No one can mug the camera while concentrating on such perfect intonation and timing.

I know 'cuz I matriculated in music schools and I perform regularly in theatres and orchestras.

But in my tiny anonymous career, Mr. Tompkins, I'll be thinking of you in the depths of my despair.
posted by watt_defalk at 4:27 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


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