Auto-Tune: Destroying the Music Industry One Pitch Correction at a Time

30 03 2011

This will serve as an open letter to the likes of Ark Music Factory, and any ‘label’ who purport to be cultivating “undiscovered” teen talents.  Well done, you have made innocent kids the ridicule of the free world and worse, made them think they are really on their way to some kind of Miley Cyrus-Justin Bieber stardom.

I know someone is going to comment and call me a “cyber bully” but I am in no way trying to ruin the self-esteem of these girls! That said, it cannot be ignored that Rebecca “It’s Friday, Friday, Friday” Black, Alana Lee, Madison Bray and Abby Victor are decidedly less talented than the mainstream teenyboppers like Emily Osment, fellow Disney star Selena Gomez, Bieber and the Jonas Brothers.  Luck and opportunity have a great deal to do with success, but people who are paying thousands of dollars to any studio or agency don’t realize they are gambling with neither on their side.
{{ RELATED: Read more about AMF founder, Patrice Wilson HERE }}

At least the gimmicky bubblegum singers of the 90s were in on the joke, and they profited handsomely. These songs blowing up online today, they have nowhere near the level of natural showmanship found on “I Want It That Way,” “Bye Bye Bye,” or “Genie In A Bottle.”
I can look back on my tween years with a grain of salt: I know they weren’t great, that they won’t go down in music history with the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Cher. 
I give my mom a lot of credit for putting up with all the shreiks I shreiked over BSB, NSync, LFO, the Spice Girls and Hanson. Their songs still bring a smile to my face and I can whip out a dance move or two, but they are just childish nostalgia. I assure, my tastes have improved with age.  I can only hope the same goes for the Ark girls.

It is sincerely freaking me out that at 22, I’m already having moments of “Oh, kids today.”

Anyway, the difference between the boybands and girl power groups of my youth? They had to at least be able to sing when they recorded. [Lipsynching in concert is a whole different animal.]

So here is where the real culprit in this whole do-they or don’t-they singing arguement comes in:  A U T O – T U N E .
The not-so-well kept industry trick, concieved by Antares Audio Technologies in 1997, is described on Wikipedia as a phase vocorder “used to disguise off-key inaccuracies and mistakes,” allowing “singers to perform perfectly tuned vocal tracks without needing to sing in tune.”

The software has been used intentionally, to achieve a particular effect on the voice, to much success by artists from Cher (Believe, 1998) to Kanye West (808s and Heartbreak, 2008).  The topic of major names in music using the tool even garnered press from Time magazine in ’09– with writer Josh Tyrangiel declaring, “It’s like Photoshop for the human voice. Auto-Tune doesn’t make it possible for just anyone to sing like a pro, but used as its creator intended, it can transform a wavering performance into something technically flawless.”

Rap mogul Jay-Z included a track called “DOA (Death of Autotune)” on his 2009 album The Blueprint 3, and later commented that the device had crossed over from an aid in the arsenal of legitimate artists to a societal joke. 
“It was a trend, it was cool in the beginning. Some people made great music with it, now it’s time to move on,” he told MTV.

So why is something that is sort of shunned by the better part of the entertainment industry, or at least thought of as a last resort on your off-est of days, so beloved by the people coming onto the scene now?  Jason Derulo, Taio Cruz, and most recently Kim Kardashian, have released singles in the last year that were heavily and obviously put through the digital wringer before reaching our radio waves.

The issues with Auto-Tune have consistently reared their ugly heads– but this time the anger is geared toward the vanity labels and personal projects posted to Youtube.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Rebecca Black. 

 

*Joseph Birdsong, you’ve got some sweet editing skills, but you’re not innocent in this either.*

—————————————

So what do we do?
Phenomenal songwriters like Taylor Swift don’t jump out of suburban high school every day.  Kids aren’t teaching themselves to play an instrument as much as they’re pretending to play one on GuitarHero(TM of Activision).

But does that mean we ought to settle for garbage like the “My Jeans” song by some girl with giraffe lips and grasshopper legs, who may or may not be Dustin Diamond’s illegitimate child?

Diamond, now 34 - Swerdlow, 12

 The only good thing I can say about her song, “My Jeans” (which I heard about last week from Tyler Oakley) is that this song is age-appropriate, but alas, her parent’s weren’t at the creative consultations that followed, which is evident by her current single, O.M.G., and its Miley Cyrus at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards-level disturbingness.
{{ RELATED:  MICHAEL BUCKLEY OF “WHAT THE BUCK” GIVES HIS TAKE ON “OMG” @ 1:33 MARK }}

It scares me that most middle schoolers don’t have the sense to sift through their parent’s CDs or (gasp!) records and discover the magic that is Elton John, Styx, Heart, or Janis Joplin.  And I blame Auto-Tune for that; the under 19 set don’t even know music exists without digital airbrushing- and how could they when we have all been buying it?!!

MetroStation made me consider taking a pencil to the ear, but Rebecca Black and Jenna Rose… I could never have seen this shit coming. 
I almost miss that horse-faced nepotistic poseur Trace Cyrus.       Almost.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

2 responses

22 04 2011
david

thank you for your blog. this is great idea from google.com

22 04 2011
fnkyluda

I absolutely agree!! It is very infuriating what is happening to the music industry. Now its just a bunch of talentless toys…. the only way to even get into the music industry now is being related to someone there or screwing someone. Its really sad to think that people like Phil Collins for example or Elton John would never make it in the industry if they came out in this day and age.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: