Friday, February 11, 2011

To Hell With Auto-Tune

My friend, Meg, and I were having a conversation the other day about the new season of American Idol. She was telling me how thoroughly impressed she was with Steven Tyler, and I don't mean impressed with his persona on the show; she was impressed with his singing. Meg's not a big rock/classic rock fan. She's more of a pop/rap fan. But Steven Tyler was singing back and forth with a contestant, and he blew her socks off, "He sounded just like he does on the radio." My response to her was, "Yeah, that's because he can REALLY sing."

Yes, Steven Tyler can actually sing. Not only can he sing, but he's also one of the most legendary rock singers ever. I guess you already knew that though, huh? But what the younger generation doesn't know is that most of their beloved "singers" can't actually sing. But these young people think Britney Spears and Taylor Swift can actually sing. You want to know why? Auto-Tune.

While watching That Metal Show a few weeks ago, guest Phil Anselmo brought up an amazing point: when they recorded Cowboys From Hell, Auto-Tune didn't exist. Everything you hear on that album was just them. There was no computer generated voice to make the audience believe Phil could sing (or scream). There were no computer generated instruments backing him up. It was all REAL. Pretty neat concept, huh?


What would today's stars do if they didn't have the luxury of Auto-Tune to save their asses? Back in the day, musicians actually had to have talent in order to make it in the music industry. Do you think Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis depended on something or someone else to make it sound like they were talented? I think not! Today, any person off the street who can't carry a tune in a bucket can be the next big star as long as they have "the look" and Auto-Tune in the studio.

So why is it now OK and generally accepted for artists (boy, do I use that term loosely) to use Auto-Tune to do all kinds of fancy computer tricks to cover up the fact that they can't sing to save their lives? Sure, maybe Steven Tyler uses Auto-Tune these days to tweak his voice because it was a little flat/sharp here and there, but I seriously doubt he uses it to fix his voice completely because it wasn't even in the right key. Is it so the music industry can make a few extra million off just about anyone?

And what does that mean for the rest of the real musicians out there? Everywhere you look, there are talented bands who don't stand a chance against this bullshit. So they'll sit here unnoticed and watch all the other craptastic bands/singers get the record deal of the century that they don't deserve.

Isn't there at least one person working at a major label that has a soul left? Just one? Sigh....

11 comments:

Rob Rockitt said...

Auto Tune sucks. I noticed country artists started using it to a greater degree several years ago. Now it all over in the pop world. This is reason why I love hard rock. Raw unaltered, talented singers, who don't need to sing into a stupid box to make their voice sound better.

Charlotta said...

That is so true. Aerosmith has been one of my favorite bands since...forever! Steven Tyler is one of the greatest singers of all time!

It's really a shame that real singers, real talents...REAL musicians barely has a cahnce these days.

HellOnHighHeels said...

Rob - Yes, country singers are starting to use Auto-Tune to a greater degree. It's sad. I'm sure Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams are rolling in their graves as we speak.

But there's at least one country artist who's not using Auto-Tune: Marty Stuart. I preach the gospel of Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives ALL the time because they are underrated and INCREDIBLE. They are some of the most amazing musicians and their live performances are STUNNING. I've seen them at the Ryman with just acoustic guitars, a mandolin, upright bass and a snare drum and it sounded bare, beautiful and real. Auto-Tune can't make that.

The Vintage Kitten said...

I never really liked Aerosmith or that kind of music I was more a Death Metal, Napalm Death and early Black Sabbath type of a girl (back in my heyday LOL!) but I have to say after watching American Idol here in the UK, I am tuning in just to see Mr Tyler every week. I love his style and his floppy hats. I think he is great and love it when he suddenly has an impromptu burst of singing. I really like the song Dream On X

metalodyssey said...

Death Metal and any Extreme Metal vocalist who "alienates" the mainstream is at least singing in their "real" voice. A Metal kudo's to you for sounding off on the "Auto-Tune Generation"... the mainstream cares more about an "artists" face and body today than the "artists" vocals. That is why auto-tune saves the day for the plastic "artists" with perfect faces and bodies who want to cheat their way to the top of the artificial Billboard charts.

- Stone

Seance said...

It´s a sad thing auto-tune but unfortunately we will be hearing more of that and pre recorded vocals at conserts.
Cool blogg btw.

buy rift account said...

I super agree with you, .great post.

Mindy said...

Love this!! I just hit "Next Blog" today and yours came up!! Love your rant on Auto Tune!!

Rock on!

Cocktail Lady said...

I saw Aerosmith in concert some years ago and I think to this day it is still one of my MOST favorite concerts! I am enjoying him on American Idol too, and love it when he belts out some of his tunes! Great blog! Cheers!!

esgee said...

Think disco. Disco was killed in one afternoon/eve. lookup Disco Demolition Night. Anyway my point is all trends reach a crescendo and then a tipping point occurs. As we can all tell the end of auto tune is near, because it is so pervasive. Will it be in the form of the 1974 demolition, sadly I don't think so. This generation is not capable (yet) of orchestrating such displays of outrage, but somehow they can manage to flash mob--go figure. I did recently see Jimmy Fallon making fun of it, and perhaps that will be the modern demolition. Viral mockery = un-cool. I guess we wait and see.

esgee said...

Think Disco. The disco era was killed in one evening during the Disco Demolition of 74. Since all trends reach a crescendo before finding a tipping point, so to will autotune. And given the overwhelming pervasiveness of autotune, I can only assume the end is near. But how? I don't believe it will come in the form of a public outrage like 74, I find this generation a little to meek for such organization, yet they can manage to flash mob, so I could be wrong. I did recently see Jimmy Fallon mock autotune at some VH1 show and it got me to thinking, once cool people (whether real or perceived) begin mocking autotune the followers will follow. Viral mockery = un-cool. I think Steve Colbert should do an entire show in autotune, that would do it.