Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Wed Jun 28




Auto-Tuning Ourselves To Death


Can you ever have too much Auto-Tune? Of course. Like crack cocaine, affairs, and Cheetos, Auto-Tune should only be used sparingly, and with regard to the sanctity of pure professionalism and ability. One can be sure Britney Spears is a consummate professional. I have no doubt she, like others in her field, has some moderate ability to spew insipid lyrics at a somewhat accurate pitch range, assuming she's free from unnecessary K-Fed-erated influence. When that previous night's bender pushes her voice to a Valley of Incomprehensible Suckiness for a muon's lifespan, Auto-Tune is and should be called into service to correct the aural offense and realign the discombobulated EQ settings.

However, the age of T-Pain and the once-funny Auto-Tune the News has made the original geek product--an algorithm powerered pitch perfecter--into an annoying and overused audio malaprop. Now we're inundated with songs deliberately infused with modulated sine waves disguising the human voice in a myriad of colorful harmonics and twisting tremelos of electrical wankery. The shy kid from Owl City now sounds like Postal Service's Ben Gibbard, thanks to Auto-Tuning, and the entire Maroon 5 band has been converted from mobile bacterial lumps with vocal cords into streamlined, pitch-corrected Speak-n-Spells. Kanye West, who currently embodies the highest echelon of douchebaggery in music, had already jumped the shark when he produced 808's & Heartbreak, an auto-tuned, empty shell of dead-weight and dime store delivery. (Though without Auto-tune, Kanye would be a noisy collection of vocal noises--talent here lies in producing Pringles-neatness out of a bag of greasy Lays.)

Thanks to Auto-Tune's mainstream appeal (read: idiot producers and the idiot consumers who subsidize egregious Auto-Tune abuses comprise the majority) the path behind us, where Auto-Tune is a only music nerd's wet dream, is sadly blocked by the amazingly preserved corpse of Cher. It would appear the music industry is nuptially locked in an unholy embrace with Auto-Tuning. Our only recourse is to purchase karaoke versions of all our favorite songs, and rerecording the lyrics in our bedrooms, sans vocoding plugin. It may be raw, and it may not be beautiful. But dammit, at least it's better than the sonic abuse we now call pop music.

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