Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To Autotune or To Not Autotune

I have always enjoyed T Pain’s music. If you’re not familiar with him, he is featured on a lot of artists’ songs as a hook or part of the chorus such as Kanye West’s “Good Life” and Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss.” T Pain’s use of the autotune device is not anything new, that is pretty much what he is known for.

According to dictionary.com, autotune is a software package that automatically manipulates a recording of a vocal track until it is in tune regardless of whether or not the original performance was in tune. This definition actually surprised me because it can infer that anyone who uses autotune..may not initially sing in tune with a melody. Nonetheless, T Pain’s music has been well-received. There is even an iPhone app that makes your voice sound autotuned like T Pain’s!

Kanye West’s 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak featured his new use of the autotune. Personally, I did not enjoy it because I felt it did not compliment his voice. I understand in the music industry, there is a pressure to keep reinventing yourself to keep up with what society wants. I figured that he would try the autotune with a few tracks and shift back to his style, which was always seemed to work for him. 808s & Heartbreak did become another #1 album for Kanye but shown numbers nowhere near Graduation its first week of release.

Upon researching others’ opinions of 808s & Heartbreak, I came to an online petition whose objective was to ask Kanye West to stop using the autotune device. This online petition caught my eye because obviously, I was not the only one who didn’t like the “new sound.” The petition’s main premise was “Mr. West your voice holds so much power in your music, and we feel the auto tune is eating away at that power. The auto tune is something everyone is doing right now and since when have we known Kanye West for conforming to the normality’s of anything.” (petitiononline.com) This petition showed me that although the autotune device may prove successful for artists who have become synonymous with the device such as T Pain; when artists who emerge as creative and original turn to a device, it seems to look like as if they are following a trend. Don’t get me wrong, autotuned music is still enjoyable and catchy music.

This long introduction brings me to Enrique Iglesias’ new single “I Like It,” featuring Pit Bull, from his new album Euphoria. His new album has been well-received by the public too because of the x factor in this album, it is bilingual. Reading a critique on the album, it was surprising to the author that this is the first time that he has released a bilingual album.

This critique continues to say, “Not only is Enrique Iglesias at it again, but this time he's mixing it up with the oh-so-popular Auto-Tune. If you live on the planet Earth and listen to popular radio, you've heard "I Like It." It hit #4 on the Billboard Top 100 chart and also made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot/Dance Club Play chart.” (blogcritic.org)

From this quote, I took away that Enrique has given into the trend that sells. T Pain did it, Kanye did it, why shouldn’t Enrique try it either? I can recall Enrique’s first English hit “Bailamos,” and remember how great it was that he intertwined English and Spanish into an upbeat song. “I Like It” has been his best performing since “Hero” in 2001. Obviously, the autotune device has proved well for Enrique with this track. Giving into the trend may have been difficult for him, it may have not. Enrique has also made a version featuring the MTV’s new hit reality show Jersey Shore, in which they are showed in one of the music videos for the song. Also, this being his first bilingual album, it is obvious that Enrique stepped out of his comfort zone with this album. Either way, Enrique is career-focused right now and he has seen what works in the music industry and is using it for his advantage.

*Thought I’d share the many uses of auto tune.

T Pain – I’m Sprung – 2005


Kanye West – “Love Lockdown” – 2008


Enrique Iglesias ft. Pitbull “I Like It” (Jersey Shore Version) - 2010


Sources: http://www.petitiononline.com/mrwest/petition.html, www.dictionary.com, http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-enrique-iglesias-euphoria/

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