Fuck you, Auto-Tune: A Rant

Written by  //  January 26, 2009  //  The Conservatory  //  7 Comments

Fuck you, Auto-Tune. You’re ruining perfectly good music.

I completely understand that you can be used as a tool, a quick little fix to smooth over sung notes that just don’t feel right. I get it. I’ve had it used on my voice several times, but mainly because I am a hack. And we have seen you used to primp up the voices of other hacks, as well. Cher, Shania Twain, and probably most of the Top 40 shit the gristmill churns out has the touch of the Auto-Tune adding sheen to the turd.

It’s also no surprise that Kanye West opened up the auto-tune like a firehose on his new album. He’s officially horrible. No turning back. You come to expect these kinds of shenanigans from half-dead artists grasping at relevance. I was in a Thai restaraunt in Rawlins, Wyoming on Christmas Eve this past year eating mediocre panang curry and listening to the worst sort of R&B you could imagine, and a solid percentage of it was just a white-boy re-hash of “Do You Believe”. This only serves to irritate people of good taste. Again, I understand.

But this past weekend, when I got the new Bon Iver EP, Blood Bank, into my grubby mitts, eager to bathe myself in its wintry haze (the cover art even informed me of my listening context!), I was aghast to hear the last song on the disc, Woods. The song, an a capella number, is buried in Auto-Tune. I shrieked in discontent.  And whereas Bon Iver used the Auto-Tune on his first record, it was certainly used more sparingly.  This time around it was like he was smacking you in the face with the Auto-Tune.  His voice was bent and then broken in layers, the cacophany of synthesized melodies drowning out the organic, lush beauty of his actual voice.

I just don’t see the point. This song could have been a beautiful multi-voiced, multi-tracked meditation, but instead sounds like an informercial for the wonderfully post-modern, post-talent tool Auto-Tune. Justin Vernon doesn’t need it to polish his voice.  As a matter of fact, no one in the band needs it,  and proof of that can be found here.

So Fuck you, Auto-Tune. Fuck you for taking a beautiful thing and turning it into a soupy, frothy, steaming jet of liquified aural shit.

About the Author

Rbt. B. Rutherford is the Donnybrook Manor's Resident Bard/Plant Psychologist. BA in Fecundity, MA in Profundity, Cambridge University, Magna Cum Laude.

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7 Comments on "Fuck you, Auto-Tune: A Rant"

  1. Robin des Bourgeois February 11, 2009 at 1:29 am · Reply

    Agreed! I’ve heard Auto-tune being used almost as an instrument, and sounding really great, but why dilute the beauty with such techno-trickery Bon Iver, why? Kudos to Rutherford for laying it out there.

  2. Brother Russell February 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm · Reply

    Amen, brother! I was just watching various live performances of the sublime Alison Krauss on YouTube, and accidently came across a video of Alison singing harmony behind Shania Twain at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Dolly Parton. Shania was obviously using the Auto-Tune, and meanwhile Dolly Parton looked on with this fixed stare, probably trying to grimace or slap her hands over her ears. Alison was singing harmony without the Auto-Tune, which of course she does not need. What a travesty. The Auto-Tune combined with over-compression and the mp3 revolution are putting the last nail in American popular music.

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