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Pomplamoose music, Hyundai holiday commercials

timv's picture

Too cold to skate so I've been watching a lot of TV and noticed a young couple singing and clowning around in some car ads. Something about the way they were shown made me think I was supposed to know who they were. It only took one search for "hyundai singing duo" to find out that they were Pomplamoose, multi-instrumentalists Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn who've become YouTube sensations over the past year and a half or so.

They've posted over 40 videos to their channel, a mix of original songs and covers, and they're definitely worth checking out. They describe their videos as a new medium, the "VideoSong," having 2 rules: 1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice) and, 2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).

The three commercials currently running have also been posted by Hyundai (as if they aren't on television often enough!): "Up on the Housetop," "Jingle Bells," and "Deck the Halls." Last year's holiday video from Pomplamoose was an original song, "Always in the Season," which is also quite well done and it's worth sticking around to catch the amusing banter at the end where they endorse giving someone a goat for Christmas. (Watch it, they explain.)


It's interesting to me as much as anything because YouTube is being used as the medium for introducing new artists and new music, as opposed to showing skateboarding dogs or whatever. And the two are reportedly supporting themselves entirely from their YouTube-based musical careers. Of course they're young and talented and charming and attractive, which would hardly have hurt them in any musical era or with any mode of delivery. What's different here is that they perform and record their music and shoot and edit their videos themselves, upload the files to YouTube and iTunes themselves, and they and their music is immediately available to anyone who uses a computer.

It's been noted that it never hurts to have a pretty girl in your band and Nataly is indeed pretty (besides being a vocal harmony genius and an ace with Final Cut Pro) but I noticed about as many comments about how cute Jack is.


eebee's picture


Man I love trends! With this one we can finally progress away from tissue-papery, pitch-corrected 'singing' and fluffy simplicity, and get to something real. I know indie music has always been around but it's hard to find in my part of the world unless I'm glued to the computer or take recordings with me. 

As for pretty girls helping bands, I told my daughter recently that if she was ever interested in recording a song and getting air play, all she'd have to do is record any old crap and submit it to the local DaveFM station and they'd play it. They have hardly any female vocalists in their playlists for their 'genre'. So between all those male musicians such as Dave Matthews, Bono, and other breathy tortured souls, we have to hear 'Dog Days are Over' about three times an hour. They're so desperate for female 'rock' artists that they're playing Sheryl Crow's latest Mommy-serenity snooze. Don't get me wrong. I love Mommy serenity! It's a great thing for all involved and the world in general. It just doesn't tend to inspire any hooks. 

...pauses to be proven wrong...

Well alright. Perhaps Stevie pulled it off with Isn't She Lovely. But that one might just be superbly-produced rather than hook-laden.

I know I don't have to listen to the radio. But sometimes it's forced into my ears. So yay for new styles, recording methods and innovation. It's about time. I'm glad Pomplamoose made it to car ads! Feist-y voices have been lucrative ad-essentials in recent years. 

timv's picture

Out of it

Hunh... I've never heard nor heard of "Dog Days are Over" and I couldn't have named Sheryl Crow's latest single with a gun to my head.

Really got my finger on the pulse...

But I very much like your advice to your daughter. "Record any old crap" for sure!

What I find interesting is that the stuff that usually gets knocked by name--Lady Gaga, The Jonas Brothers, Beyonce'--is far from simple and not at all easy to do. If pop radio played them and 25 other acts whose songs were as well crafted as theirs, we'd be living in the midst of a musical revival.

But we aren't. And I'm afraid that the situation for live music, with the exception perhaps of a few hot local areas, is even more dire than the radio.

<p><a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/jackcontemusic">Jack's YouTube page</a> has a list of gear that he uses. Looks like they use the Neumann TLM-103 (not cheap!) for most vocals.</p><p>As for endorsements and sponsorships, Wikipedia tells us that the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wurlitzer#Electric_pianos">Wurlitzer Electronic Piano</a> went out of production in 1982, so I don't guess that they'd have a lot to gain by paying him to promote it. No longer an independent company, btw, just a brand sticker owned by Gibson now but formerly a jewel of the greater Buffalo area manufacturing economy.</p><p>He does seem to have some sort of relationship with <a href="http://www.ehx.com/blog/kitchen-fork-expiration-date-jack-conte-nataly-dawn">Electro-Harmonix</a> though. He's done a number of fun VideoSong demos for their cool effects pedals. Here are <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRipj597wxc">one</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs3pyg019mw">two</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUart4qkN0g">three</a> of them.</p><p>And there's no doubt about their ability to promote merchandise. At the end of the Pomplamoose version of "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvYZMqQffQE">My Favorite Things</a>" they offer handmade grapefruit-scented Pomplamoose soap. Soon after they had to post a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BklmnPSGdeg">there's-no-more-soap-so-please-stop-ordering-it video</a>; no song but it's funny.</p>
eebee's picture


Well that pulse is so faint it's almost dead. Or perhaps I just wish it were. The Dog Days song plays (well other than everybloodywhere) in the background of a trailer for that new Anne Hathaway/Jake Gyllenhall movie - Love and Other Drugs, I believe. It's by Florence and the Machine. I'm sure she's talented with other great songs - I'm not doggin' the song or Florence, just frustrated with the missed opportunity in radio. 

Indeed! Nothing simple about Gaga, that's for sure! They should all be so bold. 

I guess this problem with popular music on the radio or tv goes back at least as far as the 1930s, when looks started to supplant talent and innovation. 

Sorry about the rant. Imma shut my blabberfingers now. But not before I connect with another imma, which is a kind of rebellion (supposedly against something Geffen execs said to Rivers Cuomo) and celebration of quirky memes and their rise to fame on youtube or other video sites. Now this kind of simple: I love :-). 

I can't do any of this stuff anyway but I'm really glad those who can are getting their shot.  

timv's picture


I like Weezer too. I especially liked the Maladroit era when they posted mp3s of rough songs online every few days while they were working on them. "Dope Nose," "Hash Pipe," "Keep Fishin'"and some that were never officially released like "Hey Domingo" (their unofficial World Cup '02 theme song.)

I gather they never took up their fans on the offer of $10 million if they'd retire and spare them further disappointments.

There are endless stories of record label "executives" (scare quotes to imply anyone with a business card that said Warner Brothers or Capitol or A&M back in the day) who'd casually toss out "Cut your hair, shave off the beards, and the bass player needs to lose 30 pounds" to an unsigned act. And the band would scurry off to do just as they were told, thinking that they'd finally get to be rock stars if they just did these few more things.

As someone from an LA indie band (might've been Fishbone) said in a radio interview once, "What's really sad are the ones who sell out and still don't make it."

roadskater's picture

Some Pomplamoose Covers and an Original

Thanks for directing us to Pomplamoose. I"ve spent way too much time listening! Unfortunately I will need to do it again as the laptop I am using has only 1 of 2 tinny speakers left, and I didn't really think to try some earbuds! Earbuds. Sounds like some platonic virii living in there, discussing the sounds. Or dudes that go hear live music in stand up bars. Anyway, I really like their original (I assume) holiday song, 
Always in the Season

I also liked the original,

Pomplamoose - If You Think You Need Some Lovin.

Among their covers, I liked...

Let's see. What else? Oh yeah the Ben Folds/Nick Hornby/Pomplamoose thing. There's some Beach Boys in there, some Beatles (especially Ringo or Jim Keltner perhaps, notably a stand up drum performance by Ben). Now I am not saying I endorse all the views expressed blah blah blah ha.

Ben Folds, Nick Hornby, & Pomplamoose VideoSong!!!! 

Hmm. Oh yes. I like what they did with the give a goat thing, and also another one, perhaps this year's, a book donation effort.

BTW if you don't like the music you might still find the banter interesting at the end of many of the videosongs. This version of Deck the Halls was OK but more importantly it is where they talk about this year's charity for free mp3s project, plus offer some background on making the commercials.

Also, other stuff I wondered:

  • have they begun getting free instruments and sponsorships for logo placement? I spot at least two different C.F. Martin guitars, there was a prominent shot of the logo of one bass, Whirlitzer seems to get some play.
  • is anyone maniacally tracking and documenting the use of effects units and offering some details and descriptions?
  • how many microphones do they own? or how many do they really rely on and which ones?
  • are they sending it all into a mac for mixing and editing? how many tracks, typically? i saw some brief shots of mixing equipment, but didn't freeze frame it, and was out of time to go searching for technofansites.

Interesting. This would have been John Lennon's dream come true. Controlling the means of production and being able to publish instantly. As I recall hearing recently, the idea of Instant Kharma was to get it out as quickly as possible. Let's see...

It ranks as one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history, recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios the same day it was written, and arriving in stores only ten days later. Lennon remarked to the press, he "wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we're putting it out for dinner." The record was produced by Phil Spector, the first of many recordings by the Beatles that Spector worked on that year.

* * *

Harrison would later remark that he was enticed and interested by Lennon's idea of an instant single release, and this partially contributed to Harrison's willingness to participate.


It looks like YouTube and Google see online direct music publishing as an income stream, and I am glad it is working for some talented and hard-working musicians (who have the talent and wherewithall for audio/video performance/recording/editing! Another new renaissance begins.

timv's picture

Jack Conte and Pomplamoose gear

Jack's YouTube page has a list of gear that he uses. Looks like they use the Neumann TLM-103 (not cheap!) for most vocals.

As for endorsements and sponsorships, Wikipedia tells us that the Wurlitzer Electronic Piano went out of production in 1982, so I don't guess that they'd have a lot to gain by paying him to promote it. No longer an independent company, btw, just a brand sticker owned by Gibson now but formerly a jewel of the greater Buffalo area manufacturing economy.

He does seem to have some sort of relationship with Electro-Harmonix though. He's done a number of fun VideoSong demos for their cool effects pedals. Here are one two three of them.

And there's no doubt about their ability to promote merchandise. At the end of the Pomplamoose version of "My Favorite Things" they offer handmade grapefruit-scented Pomplamoose soap. Soon after they had to post a there's-no-more-soap-so-please-stop-ordering-it video; no song but it's funny.

roadskater's picture

Just Guessing But I Agree...I Like the Freeze and Hum Debugger

Yeah I noticed he was wearing an Electro-Harmonix tee in at least one of their videosongs. I figured they had "loaned" or given him anything he wanted in the kit perhaps in exchange for not using anyone else's gadgets, but I don't know about that of course, and they wouldn't need to have exclusivity perhaps. Not sure if C.F. Martin gives away much or needs much help promoting their wares, but maybe they want to remain relevant to the YouTube set, who knows. It doesn't bother me when people get stuff to do stuff, especially when there's a clear indication, as in a car commercial, that it's a commercial. And it doesn't really matter if it bothers me anyway, ha! It'd be cool if they said with whom they had contracts. I really like that people want to see them succeed and they order stuff they might not really need to see the stuff out in the world. I am sure some folk have bought Roadskater.net jerseys they didn't need (in addition to me, ha) so others could be able to buy them and so we could wear them together in close proximity of time or space (or both). I love the please stop buying soap thing. Must have been lots of trouble to make and I am betting especially to ship, relative to the value of the product. 

I like that Freeze pedal. Wish I could find some kid who thought it sucked and wanted to "loan" it to me forever! Cheating like multitracking and delay and even reverb I guess.


I'd like to hear a clean acoustic (but without reverb). Near the end of this was the closest I found...


Also the Hum debugger or whatever they called it was cool, if very "simple." (It "just" takes out the hum from a single coil guitar pickup.)

I watched a lot of those 1 minute videos (or a minute of the longer ones) where they ran the effects pedals through their paces somewhat quickly. Perfect marketing on many of them. Some may need a creep-o-meter but OK. Mix age and money and power and what do you expect? Nevermind. I'll stop there. 

timv's picture



Yes, sometimes the creator's personality comes through a bit too well perhaps. I think the ones that use on-screen text instead of narration generally come off better.

I've known about Electro-Harmonix pedals for ages. I guess they'd been in business for a few years before I started playing, so that's a long time. The only one I've actually owned is a Big Muff Pi, an olive green made-in-Russia one, and it does a lot of interesting sounds, none of them particularly subtle. It might be especially good for slide and lap steel playing, if I was better at that.

What I like about the company is that they seem especially brave about building enough range into the controls that they can make horrible unmusical noises as well nice sounds, and leaving it to the player to decide which is which. That's opposite to the "it sounds great no matter where you set the knobs" product philosophy, more in keeping with what's expected from pro as opposed to consumer audio gear by my way of looking at it.

I looked into the Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai pedal a year or two back, but it's a pretty big investment for a stomp box, and I wasn't convinced that I wouldn't just spend hours at a time plucking an open string with one hand while turning knobs on the box with the other. I'm already good enough at finding ways to spend a lot of time on music-related activities that don't ever lead to actually making music. I didn't need more of those.

Which reminds me of an anecdote I heard from someone who worked for Yamaha Musical Instruments, who said that repair technicians gradually started noticing that most of the synthesizers (DX7s, I think) coming in for repair still had the factory memory settings untouched, with all of the original patches there intact. And when their keyboards showed up in recordings, they were more often using the factory sounds.

The attitude up to then had been that these were just samples, stashed there by engineers as starting points for players to use in building their own unique instrument sounds--that was the point of a programmable synthesizer after all. But as it turned out, folks for the most part bought them for playing, not to spend many hours sitting around and programming them. The corollary was the realization that buyers were making their decisions based on how good the original programs sounded. Keyboard makers began paying a lot more attention to which factory patches with shipped with the instruments and putting more time into fine-tuning the sounds once they figured this out.

Anywho... Yeah, fans buying soap: We've had the discussion in the past about merchandise at shows, that people who enjoyed the music are actively looking to support the musicians and to take something home from the venue. Creative ideas for stuff to offer other than CDs and t-shirts... custom USB flash drives for example.

timv's picture

Forgot to reply to this: are

Forgot to reply to this:

are they sending it all into a mac for mixing and editing? how many tracks, typically?

Jack said in an interview that he uses ProTools, and that the songs can have upwards of a hundred layers, sometimes more than are available in a single ProTools session. So yeah, all on Mac I presume.

But I see on his YouTube page where he lists ProTools LE. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that a non-Limited Edition version of the software would have a higher layer limit or perhaps even none at all.

roadskater's picture

OK Go Net Neutrality NPR

NPR was covering the potential effects of net neutrality rules this afternoon.


They made mention of OK Go and their first, very informal, not intended for publishing it seems, video, which was posted to YouTube. 


Let's hope things don't become more like other forms of media, with the gatekeepers grabbing control and influence and "customizing our experience" while crippling our phones and filtering and homogenizing what's available to us. Long live the not yet popular, never popular, and some of the used to be popular.

eebee's picture

Total bummer

Thanks for bringing attention to this bummer of an FCC vote. My head's about to explode over this so I think I'll go back to sleep. 

But a couple of thoughts keep me wanting to stay alive even if the worst does happen:

  • Where there's youth there will always be a force to be reckoned with when raw talent is concerned.
  • There will always be an indie venue somewhere.
  • This sounds like the making of an epic and historic book/play/movie: The Great Rickroll Swindle, perhaps.
timv's picture

Jack Conte talks some more about his gear

Just found these videos:



They're actually hosted on YouTube, but I think he meant them to be viewed from and commented upon at the blog site.

Nice demonstrations and explanations...

timv's picture

Hey It's Pomplamoose: A Show About Pomplamoose

A banner ad has appeared on the Pomplamoose YouTube homepage promoting the musical duo's upcoming live web shows.

IIRC from the banter at the end of the Jingle Bells video (not the one posted by Hyundai that's linked about but rather the one posted by the band on 12/26/10) it's going to be a regular weekly thing. The time scheduled is Tuesdays at 6:30PM Pacific time (9:30PM Eastern if I plussed that right) beginning January 18th. So that's not tomorrow as I write this, but rather Tuesday of next week.

The banner just says it'll be "@pomplamoose.com" but there's nothing about it at that site, or not yet at least. I might get some yummy pizza in my belly and then see what those kooky kids are up to with their new show.

roadskater's picture

So How Was the Pomplamoose Show

As you might've guessed, I missed the Pomplamoose show in addition to the (try) weekly garlic and onion pizza at our favorite two-toppings Tuesday night special place. I woke in time to do some more background work on the site and to post a bit, then have to get going way early today. So, how was it? Here or on a new thread is fine too.

timv's picture

The First "Hey It's Pomplamoose" Show

The "Hey It's Pomplaoose" show was cute and pleasant, worth tuning in just to see what happened but not something that you need to deeply regret missing IMHO. It was the loosest I've seen Jack and Nataly, really just the two of them in front of a webcam with a vague plan to sing live versions of a few songs and talk a little.

Performances were quite good although plagued by audio level problems, with heavy distortion whenever Jack dug into the piano or when both of them sang full out. An audio limiter would have been a big help there, or even better a friend to ride the mixer output level and keep it out of the red.

One of the attractions of the show was that viewers could chat online with them. Yeah, right. With a couple thousand users logged in, there was no chance of anything resembling dialog. That might have been the most impressive part of the event in fact. Imagine the fastest you've ever seen TV end credits rolling up the screen. The chatroom messages kept streaming by at least twice that fast. To their credit Jack and Nataly did try to do some interacting, asking a few questions ("Is it after midnight where you are?") and answering a couple of questions themselves.

But I'll plan to check it out again next week, life permitting. They're always charming and pleasant, and it'll be interesting to see what they do differently/better next time. I can think of worse ways to kill a half an hour.

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