Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mopping Up Culture Vomit: The Rebirth of Auto-Tune

Kid Cudi, it might be said, evinces why auto-tune was created.

'Cuz gawd DAMN, that dude cannot sing.

Early T-Pain recordings indicate much the same was true with him.

Kaneezy wanted to sing on 808s, but he couldn't, either. So he used a computer. And, for the most part, it turned out pretty great (and Rihanna looks FINE in that video). On the whole, the record wasn't perfect. Kanye's a better pop-rap songwriter than he is a pop songwriter (meaning he doesn't write the strongest hooks). The sound, per Kanyusual, is locked-down.

Sorry. I promise I won't do any more Kanye puns.

But Kanye doesn't appear to be tone-deaf. Nor does T-Pain. Nor, for that matter, does Cudi.

They don't hit the notes perfectly, but they're somewhere in the general vicinity. (SIDE NOTE: Even though he was (sorta) joking on this one, I think "D.O.A." showed that Jigga man is tone-deaf as all get-out.) (SIDE NOTE to THE FIRST SIDE NOTE: Jay-Z attacking someone for riding a trend on an album which fails largely because it poorly rides existing trends strikes me as a bit hypocritical).

Scotty, Faheem (I can't even believe how much better a name that is than T-Pain), and Mr. West could all learn how to sing.

Singing's all about control. Knowing how to breath. Knowing when to hold a note. Knowing how to hold yourself so that the sound comes out most purely.

I'm convinced nearly everyone could learn how to sing. We can't all be Bing Crosby (or David Bowie, for that matter), but that's not really a fair standard anyway.

But why do we need to learn to sing, anyway?

Why was Auto-Tune one of the most reviled trends in recent pop music history?

But was it really all that reviled? People vote with their feet, and the consensus was firmly in favor of the not-actually-a-vocoder.

T-Pain's not a bad example. His songs are almost absurdly catchy. "Buy You a Drank?"

"Can't Believe It?" The remix is even BETTER.

"Chopped & Skrewed?"

A friend (we'll call him R. Batie... no, that's too about Ryan B.?) told me about the strange chords Pain'll throw into a seemingly simple pop song. "Chopped & Skrewed," in particular, seems satisfyingly weird (even if I don't have the musical vocabulary to point out exactly why.

That same guy also told me that there should be no guilty pleasures. I first took this to mean that I'm not allowed to listen to Pain or Justin or Rihanna or "Forever" (SIDE NOTE: guess we don't hate Chris Brown enough to not use his song in the most touching moment in Office history).

Then I realized he meant I just shouldn't feel guilty about it.

Stop assailing rappers who want to be able to sing. Everybody wishes they could sing. Ever been to a karaoke bar?

Just let 'em in the club already. That is, if you're in it to begin with.