As any music producer will tell you, most of the vocal tracks you hear on the radio are probably ‘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 put together into one take.
However, it turns out that the concept of comp was completely foreign to American talk show host David Letterman, so his mind was somewhat stunned when it was explained and shown to him by production partners Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas.
The upcoming conversation has come to light in a new clip from Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction series on Netflix. Eilish is the first guest on the show’s fourth season, which can now be seen.
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 part of making music.”
Finneas then opens the Logic Pro project file for Happier Than Ever, the title track from Eilish’s 2021 album, and explains to Letterman that there were actually 87 vocal takes for the song.
“To me, this is like a visit to my cardiologist,” Letterman says, staring at the screen, before gazing open-mouthed as Finneas plays the completed voice and Eilish warns him as each different take is introduced.
“To hear your voice in this context is a bit bizarre,” Letterman says, “because that’s where I look at things [on the screen] I actually represent the voice, I hear the voice, which is ‘Oh my God’, and you just sit there. It’s a little crazy, all this.”
In fact, Letterman seems so confused by the whole experience that we wonder if he should go and lie down for a bit. Just wait till he hears about Auto-Tune…