John Legend records song with actual stars from space

Real stars get in on recording with superstar John Legend after an assist from astrophysicist.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Under the Stars
Enlarge Image
Under the Stars

John Legend gets celestial with his latest song.

PRNewsFoto/Stella Artois

Singer and piano player John Legend has sung with many a big star, including Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. Not content just to duet with Earth-bound luminaries, Legend released a new tune Monday called "Under the Stars." His singing partners are a quartet of actual stars, the kind that twinkle out in space.

Beer company Stella Artois is behind the production, which makes for a pretty creative holiday publicity stunt. The company calls the recording "the first ever duet with the sound of actual stars."

If you just stand outside on a quiet night and listen intently, you won't hear much coming from those points of light in the sky. Stella Artois enlisted astrophysicist Zoltán Kolláth to translate the frequencies by which a star's brightness changes into audible sounds. Legend then incorporated these tones into the song.

Legend's co-starring stars are known as R Scuti, HR 1217, KIC 1162150 and KIC 3749404. R Scuti, for example, is a massive supergiant star located in the Scutum (Shield) constellation. R Scuti is well known among astronomers for its fluctuations in brightness as seen from Earth.

"The sound of stars is ethereal and has this dreamy vibe, which inspired 'Under the Stars,' a song about spreading love and togetherness during the holiday season," Legend said.

The song itself features a shuffling marching beat, sleigh bells, a string section and a chorus saying "Here we are under the stars. Heaven is not so far under the stars." Yep, it's a bit cheesy, but you can pick out the star sounds if you listen closely, particularly during the intro and outro when they become prominent in the mix. As it turns out, stars have very nice singing voices.