…But You Can’t Autotuna Fish

Real music lovers hate AutoTune…right?

Maybe hate is too strong of a word for a piece of software. I think, more accurately, we hate when it’s used as a substitute for actual singing ability. I mean, we understand that studio tricks are a thing, and they’re present in every album, whether we can identify them or not. But, I don’t think we’re cool with people speaking in a monotone, filtering it through a plug-in and calling themselves a “vocalist”. This is especially annoying when the “performer” doesn’t have any other considerable skills to compensate with. If they aren’t writing any particularly creative  lyrics, playing an instrument, writing beats, OR legitimately singing, it bothers the people who actually do any of those things.

Let’s take a little solace in knowing that not all artists are guilty of this. It’s crazy, I know, but some of these guys really do understand how to utilize AutoTune in a way that improves their music rather than dumbing it down. Here’s a short list of my favorite examples:

Artist: The Glitch Mob
Song: Between Two Points (Feat. Swan)

The unaffected (well, the not-autotuned) vocals are interspersed with quick, heavily edited segments of lyrics. The Glitch Mob’s takes the voice of Swan and makes it arpeggio in ways that a real human voice never could. Not to mention the wild tremolo that’s layered in on drawn out syllables, most notably the word “points”.

This is a drastically shortened version of the song. You can click here for a longer cut.

Favorite AutoTuned moment: 1:30, when the vocals fly straight to the moon.

Artist: Savant
Song: Red Claw

Um, okay. He’s detuned a dude saying “give me a red claw” and “this is crazy”. What’s so great about that?

Honestly? Nothing. There’s nothing too profound about the main hook with the bassy, only slightly melodic speech samples. Later, when you realize that the bass line during the bridge is the same sample, you probably won’t be too astonished. The mind trip comes when you listen a second or third time, when you realize that every bass sound seems like it was pulled from those two lines of speech.

Favorite AutoTuned moment: 3:37, listening to the bassline wobble beneath a twisting melody. It’s like the sound of a whale trying to catch a snake in its mouth.

Artist: Linkin Park
Song: The Requiem

Not so much a song as an introduction, this track prefaces their concept album, A Thousand Suns. The high-pitched, just slightly mechanical vocals are haunting. That effect would have been totally different if a natural human voice was used.

Keep in mind that this is mean to be part of a continuous album, which is why it cuts off suddenly. You can listen to a mix of the first three songs here.

Favorite Autotuned Moment: 1:15, because…well…that’s when the singing starts…

Artist: ILLUMNTR
Song: Little Ghost

It’s not unheard of for an artist, especially a hybrid singer/producer like ILLUMNTR, to create harmonies for natural vocals using pitch shift software. This artist flips the formula, making the blatantly AutoTuned vocals hold the main melody, and layering it with naturally sung harmonies.

Favorite AutoTuned moment: 0:20, when the harmonies kick in with the question, “are you something real?”

Artist: Owl City
Song: Probably All Of Them

What, you thought a man could make his own voice flutter like that? This mix is from one of Owl City’s older albums, back when MySpace was still the standard method for spreading indie music. As he got more famous and his budget got larger, he was able to either get singing lessons, or buy better software that hid his inadequacies better.

Since the song was re-released on his Ocean Eyes album a few years later, sans cheap AutoTune, it’s probably the software thing.

Favorite Autotuned Moment: 1:55, when his counterpart singer warbles the word “never”, and instantly changes any thoughts of “Hey, is he using…?” to “Oh yeah, he totally is.”

 

What are your favorite pitch corrected/shifted songs? Tell me about them in the comments

 

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