People, people, people.
Stop saying pop stars “can’t sing” if you hear, or think you hear, pitch-correction in their vocals.
Do you really think in today’s world of iPhones and wireless internet and CGI explosions and Netflix and face transplants that producers haven’t figured out a way to correct a singer’s vocals without you noticing it?
It’s a plug-in called Melodyne, and all it does is save the singer a few hours in the studio of nailing a pitch-perfect take. Sure, I could wail and wail for 20 takes until I belt a high C (which for me is hard) and wear out my voice, OR I can hit something in between a B and a C and my producer can fix it with a little studio magic and preserve my vocal health.
If you’re sitting there saying, “but a true singer wouldn’t need a magic plug-in!” - let me enlighten you. The number of singers who can actually sing flawlessly without any studio help is…I mean, I can think of Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, maybe Ariana Grande…
Again, it’s not that other artists would never be able to nail those notes. They would, with enough takes. But why put all that stress on your voice if you don’t have to?
And melodyne doesn’t give you a good voice. All it can do is subtly correct your pitch. It can’t fix your tone, it can’t put emotion into your voice, it can’t give you attitude. It also can’t give you a vocal range that you don’t have, give or take a few pitches. So it’s not because of melodyne that pop stars sound amazing. They are gifted vocalists, and all melodyne does is make their sessions less stressful.
I’m getting tired of people yelling “CAN’T SING” the minute they hear a singer with auto-tune.
If a singer is using auto-tune, it’s on purpose. It’s how they wanted the song to sound. They wanted it to be 134 beats per minute and they wanted violins in the bridge and they wanted an a capella section after the bridge and they wanted their vocals auto-tuned.
It’s an effect, the way that the Beatles used automatic double tracking to make it sound like their voices were doubled or the way that Pink Floyd put all that crazy panning, reverb and echo on Dark Side of the Moon. To say that one effect is okay and another is not is a completely arbitrary judgment call.
So when Jason Derulo, Usher, and Ke$ha slather their vocals in auto-tune, it’s not because they would sound like dying animals without it. It’s because they were going for a certain aesthetic that melodyne couldn’t achieve. Sometimes you need auto-tune to get the sound you want.
You may not like their voices. But that is not the same as saying that these people can’t sing, like they can’t fly or can’t speak Swahili.
Stop saying that auto-tune represents the downfall of pop music. It’s still really, really, really fucking hard to make it and the people who do are so unbelievably talented that you wouldn’t even know what to do with yourself if you were in a room with them.
Auto-tune isn’t some loophole that singers found to sneak their way onto the radio.
At the end of the day, a true hit song would sound great sung on an acoustic guitar around a campfire. If you don’t like auto-tune, all that means is that you don’t like the production of the song. Because the music industry is so competitive today, more competitive than it ever has been before, your song has to be amazing if someone will play it on the radio. You can bet that almost every song in the top 40 right now would sound great stripped down, acoustic-style. If you’re busy nit-picking and focusing on the fact that a song has auto-tune, you’re missing the point and I feel sorry for you - sorry that you’re missing out on the pleasure of enjoying a hit song.
You may not like the way that auto-tune sounds, but educate yourself before you complain that singers today can’t sing.
Know the difference between melodyne and auto-tune.
And before you dismiss a song the minute you hear pitch-correction in it, try listening with real ears: is the song good? Do the lyrics move you? Does the melody get stuck in your head? Does it make you feel something? Does it make you think?
If you still don’t like the song, that’s valid. Your opinion is your opinion. But realize that auto-tune is not the reason why the song isn’t working for you. There’s something else going on with the structure, melody, or lyrics that isn’t connecting with you, so maybe the person to blame is the songwriter.
Just don’t blame auto-tune.