YouTube’s Undiscovered – Hobbie Stuart
As The X-Factor makes a return to our television screens, the British audience are eagerly awaiting the talented, entertaining and downright embarrassing auditions process, in a bid to identify their ‘favourites’ in time for the live shows. Whilst this contest may be constantly swimming in uncharted waters with auto-tune scandals, auditionees throwing wobblies on stage and catty fighting between judges, YouTube’s online artists are still going strong in their attempt to achieve a dream musical career.
Hobbie Stuart is the latest of these who I have discovered. Covers of hits such as Maroon 5′s ‘Payphone’ are abundant on the internet but few are as raw and original as Hobbie’s. With a simple guitar and piano accompaniment, his raw voice (the British accent comes through purely on words such as ‘after’ and ‘tomorrow’) sails directly to the listener’s ears. Effortlessly, he soars above the initial falsetto on ‘payphone’ in the chorus to put his own melodic twist on the following phrase.
His first video back in 2010 was a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl (In The World)’, a beautiful acoustic version in which he plays guitar and includes subtle harmonies in the final mix. Since then, many covers of well known hits by Jessie J, Justin Bieber and Adele have followed. However, he has recently let his subscribers know that his debut album will be released next summer and has contributed some original songs to his YouTube channel which give a real flavour of his individual musical identity.
‘July Rain’ begins in a subdued manner with a slowly built up accompaniment and low pitched vocals, before breaking into the ‘summer love’ refrain and showing both the range and floating quality of his voice. The lyrics are crafted with simple rhymes but it is the ‘July rain’ refrain which fully shows the extent of his imagination in song writing. Each repeat of the phrase augments the melodic line, often ascending briefly into falsetto before falling gently to rest. I’m not usually a big fan of overly repetitive lyrics but the interest in how he next manipulates the words is sustained throughout the song.
Watching his recordings, the audience becomes aware of just how natural and authentic Hobbie’s vocal ability really is. Even when achieving notes in his higher range he barely breaks a sweat, yet his focusing eyes and stance pour a warm emotion into his singing, which if often observed in other art forms such as storytelling. A year may seem a long way off for his album release, but it shows the promise of good things to come for him.