With ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” coming out tomorrow (Dec. 13), many “Lord of the Rings” fans are hyped about the sequel to last winter’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” To that end, meet Peter Hollens. Equipped with a Vocal Performance degree (who has that?) and more than a decade’s worth of a cappella singing experience with his group On The Rocks, Hollens alone covered Ed Sheeran’s contribution to the “Smaug” soundtrack, “I See Fire.” Watch it below:
Hollens, once featured on the second season of NBC’s "The Sing Off," is a huge fan of “Lord of the Rings.” “After seeing the midnight showing of the first ‘Hobbit’ and hearing “Misty Mountains” I had to cover it,” he says. “I had the exact same response after hearing Ed Sheeran singing this one last week.”
The “music nerd” put a great deal of effort into this song. It features 98 different sound tracks—from his hand-to-knee claps to hums and other subtle warbles that his vocals rest on.
“I record between 8-14 vocal parts,” he starts, “and then layer each of them multiple times. I’m very particular about each individual part. ‘Labor of love’ is an understatement. Each video takes between 85-200 hours of work from audio to video to upload.
It’s not the sexiest cover pick, but Hollens isn’t concerned with rating high on anyone’s cool-o-meter. It’s about feeling. “Honestly, I enjoy covering the more dorky stuff like this than any other pop music out there,” he says. “It just has so much more emotion and passion behind it.”
“Did I mention I'm an enormous dork?” Hollens asks after mentioning that he’s working on a medley for massive sci-fi computer game “World of Warcraft.” He’s also working on his own full-length folk LP. While he cooks those up, give a listen to some of Hollins’ a cappella peers and one legend that's made a career for jazzy a cappellas.
Pentatonix Performing "Daft Punk"
The Beelzebubs Performing "Cruise"
Duwenda Performing "Locked Out of Heaven"
Bobby McFerrin, Performing Cuts From His "Spirityouall" Album