Auto-Tune or How Anyone Can Sing
In the late 90s, Cher introduced the world to Auto-Tune when she released her hit song "Believe". It didn't take long for the record industry to take notice and within a few months, what is now known as the "Cher Effect" began. A decade later, it's hard to find an album by a big-name talent that has hasn't been altered using the Auto-Tune (or equivalent) plug-in.
Let's take a step back for a moment and explain exactly what Auto-Tune really is. The technology was created by Antares Audio Technologies in 1997 as a pitch correction utility. It almost guarantees a perfect pitch and fixes out-of-tune problems in vocal tracks. It can also be used to distort a person's voice and produce the unnatural robotic effect you hear in most modern Hip Hop records. The tech can be used for both studio recordings and live performances. While Auto-Tune gets all the bad rap for.. well.. all the bad rap out there, there are many different companies who produce different pitch correction tech that are also to blame. Granted, if you can't sing at all there's not much that can be done for you, but if it can help Lady Gaga, it can definitely wor-wor-work wonders.
Critism and Controversy
Auto-Tune has been severely criticized by many people in and out of the music industry for its ability to deliver perfect pitches and is to blame for all recent music sounding exactly the same. This isn't limited to Hip Hop and Rap; Pop stars (Lady Gaga, Britney Spears), country singers (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw) and rock wannabes (Sum 41, Good Charlotte) have all confessed or are known to be using pitch and tune correction. It gets worse as several of these artists have also been caught lip-synching during live performances; You know the industry is taking a nose dive when today's hot artists have fake bodies, fake voices and even fake their concerts.
Luckily, there are still bands and artists with integrity left and they are starting to make a stance. Death Cab for Cutie began an anti-auto-tune campaign at this year's Grammy Awards. The band members wore suits with blue pin badges to help bring back those blue, out-of-pitch, notes that give songs their soul.
Jay-Z has recently released a single known as D.O.A (Death Of Auto-Tune) where he mocks alleged "gangstas" who are abusing Auto-Tune. Oddly enough, during one of his live performances of the song, T-Pain (who helped reintroduced Auto-Tune in 2003) joined him on stage. Jay-Z spoke with NME recently and mentioned that Kayne West sparked the idea for Death of Auto-Tune (hypocrisy much?). If this means that Kanye, Jay-Z and T-Pain will finally get off this damn gimmick, we may have some hope left for the music industry.
Auto Tune The News
We couldn't finish off this article without mentioning the latest YouTube series "Auto Tune the News" which takes regular news broadcasts and runs them through the Auto-Tune tech. The result is a hilarious mock of the tech and is well worth a watch.