Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel sang a really fun ‘duet’ on the Tonight Show which featured an iPad and the Loopy HD app. Even Tim Cook has commented on their rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ calling it magical and giving the app a shoutout.
Even though Fallon got the name of the app wrong (calling it the Looper) and technically they sang more of a Lion King version than a traditional doo-wop arrangement, this is still a clip worth watching.
In spite of really enjoying the song, this is a perfect example of the iPad being used as a prop for something that it couldn’t actually handle all by itself. The amount of equipment needed to replicate the exact same performance is fairly substantial and most of us would have to settle for a more minimal experience.
The first thing you notice is that Fallon presents two shiny wireless microphones, neither of which have the ability to natively connect to the iPad and require base stations and separate connections. In fact, from everything I can tell, the app isn’t capable of handling multiple microphone inputs, which means that the two microphones are being mixed together on a mixing console or other audio device backstage.
In order for the iPad to record the singing and for the audience to hear the loops, the iPad has to be connected to an interface via the Lightening port. We never get to see the interface but it sends the audio output to the house system so that Fallon and Joel can hear what they are singing, which is very important when singing duets, and so the audience can enjoy the music. When the band joins in they have to be able to hear the music fairly well too because the audience is cheering and yet they play in time with the rhythm.
If you listen closely you can hear the crowd cheering during the loop recording repeated over and over. This is a normal result of looping live with extraneous noise and it actually adds to the performance.
No matter how much effort it took to pull off this ‘magical’ performance there is no questioning the musical talent of Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel, who knocked it out of the park with creativity and some definite style. As with most stage shows there was undoubtedly a lot of preparation and work that went in to making this song look easy and effortless.