44-year-old Leo Moracchioli is a former assistant preschool teacher based in the village of Oltedal in South West Norway. The 2019 census put the population of Oltedal at 993. From this somewhat remote base, Moracchioli posts metal covers of a wide-range of pop songs. His YouTube channel, Frog Leap Studios, has nearly 5m subscribers.
In October 2018, Leo Moracchioli’s cover of Coldplay’s Yellow resulted in his being profiled in the Wall Street Journal. ” Who’s That Covering Coldplay? It’s Loud, Raucous and Involves Headbanging” the headline read. Leo’s most popular cover, Adele’s Hello, has 69m views in 7 years. His next most popular video is Toto’s Africa which has 55 million over 5 years.
Moracchioli’s Toto cover showcases the reasons for his massive popularity. In a nutshell, his music is extremely well produced, the playing is excellent, the video is engaging, but mostly, his covers are both fresh and fun. While the music does not skimp on heaviness, this is not dour-faced Scandinavian Death Metal! Moracchioli is clearly in his element and his good humour is contagious. For the most part, Moracchioli plays all the instruments, does the arranging, and produces his own videos.
Moracchioli occasionally performs live as Frogleap Studios with a band. Two members of the band are showcased on the cover of Africa, guitarist Rabea Massaad & second singer Hannah Boulton. Speaking of Rabea, be sure not to miss the epic extended outro to Africa, which starts at 4″10′. For a largely one-person operation, Leo Moracchioli is astonishingly prolific, producing a video a week. His YouTube channel has over 400 videos and the range of covers is eclectic. Here is Leo doing Johnny Cash:
The broad range of songs on Frog Leap Studio’s channel only adds to the appeal. From TV-show themes (The A-team, South Park, Gummi Bears ), to movie soundtracks (Toy Story’s You’ve got a friend in me and many more) to Old Town Road by Lil Nas X, to the Bee Gees, the list is as free-ranging as it is unexpected. When one considers that Moracchioli often mixes his carefully layered songs down from 50 tracks, one can only marvel at his productivity.
Given the range of covers performed by Moracchioli, it is not surprising that Toto’s Africa made the cut. Originally released in October 1982, the song was a hit around the world. Over the last decade, the song has reached new ears due to its popularity on social media and its inclusion on movie soundtracks. The track has over a billion streams on YouTube and, in the UK, it is the third most streamed song of the 1970s to 90s, according to Planet Radio – it follows Wonderwall (Oasis) and Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen). Even so, one suspects that Moracchioli did not choose to cover Africa for its popularity as much as for its catchy and explosive chorus.
Interestingly, Africa, a song conceived of by David Paich who had never been to Africa, is reported to be playing on an endless loop in Southern Africa’s Namib desert, as a solar-powered sound art installation.
Commenting on the addictiveness of Leo Moracchioli’s Africa cover, Samuel Rogers jokes in the YouTube comments: “Fun fact, only about 1000 people have actually watched this, we’ve just watched it on repeat millions of times”. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself returning to the video. If this becomes a problem, just remember that there are plenty of other well-produced and fun metal covers by Frog Leap Studio to jump into.