John Legend has teamed up with the literal cosmos for a new holiday song, “Under the Stars,” which features the unique sonic frequencies of four stars in the universe.
The ethereal pulses, rings and beeps of these stars open the track and then seamlessly give way to Legend’s own twinkling piano. “Under the Stars” is another quintessential Legend ballad, with “Little Drummer Boy” snare rolls buoying the musician’s enchanting, optimistic vocals. The stars themselves also return, flitting about during the song’s chorus and outro.
The intergalactic instrumentation of “Under the Stars” was created with the help of astrophysicist Zoltán Kolláth. A star’s changing brightness emits frequencies that are similar to sound waves, but ultimately inaudible; through a sonification process, those frequencies were rescaled and translated to be heard by the human ear (various isolated star sounds are available to hear via NASA).
“Just as the keys on a piano work together to create a musical chord, each star’s frequencies work together to create the individual sound fingerprint of the star,” Kolláth explained in a press release.
“Under the Stars” was created in partnership with Stella Artois as part of the Belgian beer company’s “Give Beautifully” holiday campaign (“Stella” fittingly translates to “star” in Latin).
As for Legend, the musician has remained busy in the years since his last LP, 2013’s Love In the Future, which boasted the monster hit, “All of Me.” While he has yet to announce a follow-up, Legend has collaborated on a number of projects ranging from the odd (the SpongeBob Musical) to the powerful, like Big Sean’s “One Man Can Change the World” and “Glory,” his Oscar-winning track for Selma with Common.
Legend and a slew of superstars will also honor Frank Sinatra on Sinatra 100 — An All-Star Grammy Concert, which celebrates the singer’s 100th birthday. The special airs Sunday, December 6th from 9 to 11 p.m. EST on CBS.