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Best of 2022: As any music producer will tell you, most of the vocal tracks you hear on the radio are likely to have been ‘comped’. Or, to put it in layman’s terms, what you’re hearing isn’t one take, but the result of multiple takes, the best bits of which have been compiled into one.
However, it transpires that the concept of comping was completely alien to US talk show host David Letterman, so his mind was somewhat blown when it was explained and shown to him by production partners Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas.
The comping conversation has come to light in a new clip taken from Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction series on Netflix. Eilish is the first guest of the fourth season of the show, which is available to watch now.
To be fair to Letterman, he’s not the only one who’s been in the dark about comping, with Eilish admitting that “none of my friends know that [comping] is a part of making music.”
Finneas then goes on to open up the Logic Pro project file for Happier Than Ever, the title track from Eilish’s 2021 album, explaining to Letterman that there were actually 87 vocal takes for the song.
“This for me is like visiting my cardiologist,” says Letterman as he stares at the screen, before watching open-mouthed as Finneas plays the finished vocal and Eilish alerts him as each different take is introduced.
“To hear your voice in this context is a little bizarre,” says Letterman, “because I’m looking at things there [on the screen] representing, actually, the voice, I’m hearing the voice, which is ‘Oh my God’, and you’re just sitting right there. It’s a little crazy, all of this”.
In fact, Letterman seems so confounded by the whole experience that we wonder if he had to go and have a little lie down. Just wait until he hears about Auto-Tune…