Do we live in Autotune Hell?

When you listen to current music it’s very easy to take for granted the perfection of the music and the vocals. There is now the luxury of being able to record and re record parts of the track and even splice parts from different takes in order to create the perfect article.

I miss the days when an artist would record the track in a room with the musicians and the best take was the take used. Take The Beatles for example. In the song ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’ John Lennon sings ‘somersets’ instead of ‘somersaults’ and that was kept in the final track. Yes it’s wrong, but it adds character, no? In the track ‘Wipeout’ by Surfaris if you listen from the second half of the track, the musicians are out of time with each other. Now that’s a proper jam session! And in the song ‘I’m so Excited’ by the Pointer Sisters, the lead vocal goes flat quite a few times. But all of this was kept. I think it gives the track character.

I started to think about this more when I began listening to Taylor Swift. There are occasions when she goes sharp or flat on the finished tracks (I’m not even going to mention the Grammy’s performance!) but I liked it. It was actually refreshing to see that a current artist wouldn’t be forced into autotuning her vocals.

I HATE autotune. I can hear it louder than the actual vocal, and sometimes wonder if I’m the only person in the world who can hear it. I think most famously used by Cher when she released Believe – they even made a point of it when making the video by blurring her face every time they used it. It’s been most recently used on every vocal used in the TV Series Glee.

Now speaking of Glee, most of the singing actors in the series have come from a theatrical background and can obviously sing – so why autotune them? It’s like a robot singing. I decided to search ‘autotune’ on twitter and came up with a surprisingly high response of autotune haters. Now Glee was showing in UK at the time, so this may have inspired some of the tweets, but still. I was reasured by the amount of people who agreed with me.

Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Michael Jackson – no autotune – OR if they did use something on their vocals (like reverb), it was subtle and sounded natural.

With all this autotune, how are these artists supposed to stand up and sing live without criticism? The answer is they don’t or they mime.

Let’s get back to natural sounding vocals from real people who can sing and not just pretty people who they can make sound like they can sing. Let’s bring the real talent back!

4 thoughts on “Do we live in Autotune Hell?

  1. I have to admit… I don’t hear it. I mean, I hear it in that Cher song, and a few times in Glee (usually just for when Finns sings) but beyond that I’m clueless.

    But I’ll agree with you… we should be able to hear talent, not autotune!

  2. I hear it. I hate it. However, it’s only on some better quality headphones that I can hear it. The lesser quality car speakers don’t show as much.

    The album that’s been bothering me the most is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest musical ‘Love Never Dies’. (I can hear it here on lower quality speakers) It’s all over the place, and the people in it are veteran theatre performers. There’s no reason to autotune them. (*They even autotuned a clarinet player!!*)

    The most recent one I’ve heard is Taylor Swift’s ‘Today was a Fairy Tale’. It’s unbearable.

    1. I knew I wasn’t crazy! Call it the “Uncanny Valley” of voice, but I knew something didn’t feel “right” about the ltitle boy’s voice on the Love Never Dies DVD. Definite autotune.

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