First discovered on YouTube, Charlie Puth has lent his talents to multiple get-stuck-in-your-head good tracks in 2015, including “Marvin Gaye” featuring Meghan Trainor and “See You Again” featuring Wiz Khalifa, which has garnered Puth both Grammy and Golden Globe nominations.
Puth’s debut studio album Nine Track Mind hits earbuds Jan. 29, and today, Puth goes silent (vocally, at least) in a spectacular “piana-pella” version of “One Call Away,” which Billboard is premiering exclusively below.
“A piana-pella is all of the melody and chords that make up the record, but without vocals,” Puth tells Billboard about coining the variation on a cappella. “Every song I write starts out on the piano, so it’s always interesting to go back to the roots of the song after it’s been produced out.”
Though seated at a grand piano similarly to the song’s original music video, Puth flies solo, focusing entirely on the “mechanics of the melody and structure of the song.”
“It’s a very simple song, but with pretty dense chord changes — a poppier Bill Evans,” Puth adds about “One Call Away” (which goes on sale on iTunes on Friday). “I want kids to YouTube the video and learn how to play it on piano.”
In this video, the singer-songwriter keeps it simple, the sound crisp as his fingers fly across the keys. Performing it without his powerful pipes was purposeful.
“I’m more concerned with people thinking that I don’t really play the piano,” he explains. “This wasn’t meant to be an ‘I told you so’ kind of video, but simply to show that I can wear two hats and don’t always have to be behind the mic to evoke a musical feeling.”
As for other piano masters and songs that inspire Puth, there are a lot. “Listen to ‘Waltz for Debby’ and ‘Prelude’ in B minor. Some of the most beautiful chord changes you will ever hear. It’s all about the chords,” Puth says. “Babyface. David Foster. Billy Joel. The list goes on and on of players who know good chordal structure. If the base of your record has good chord changes, it will inspire a good melody.”
Need a new song to learn on piano, stat? Enjoy the piana-pella version of “One Call Away.”