And the thing that’s most infuriating is that many singers don’t even need it. Just as fashion industry overcorrect the already impossibly beautiful (See: Kate Winslet), the music industry is overcorrecting the already impossibly good singers. Yesterday Jezebel pointed out that up-and-coming pop starlet (and out bisexual lady) Jessie J can actually sing. And she can. I saw her on “Saturday Night Live” and thought she was OK. But seeing her in this subway video is even more impressive (partly because the song choice is better).
Now compare that to her Auto-Tuned hit “Do It Like a Dude.”
Um, what? Are those the same singers? Why strip away that voice and turn it into a collection of electronic pops and whistles? Digitally enhanced is an oxymoron in this case, and many others.
Even some of the most egregious of the current crop of Auto-Tunites simply don’t need the digital enhancement. Like, and stay with me here, Ke$ha. Yes, Ke$ha. She of the Jack Daniels toothpaste. She of the perpetually smeared eyeliner. She of the “Get Sleazy Tour.” (Get Sleazy? Nice. Aspirational.) I have a strange soft spot for Ke$ha, which I have previously admitted much to my continual shame. It’s not her persona, which is intentionally awful. It’s that I think her songs are ridiculously catchy and almost whimsical. It’s like gummy ear worm candy. And whenever I feel particularly ashamed of singing along in my car, I unearth this video of a pre-fame, pre-sleazy Ke$ha.
Dammit, Ke-Dollar Sign- Ha can really sing. Like really, really sing.
Singing is a talent, not a digital experiment. Auto-Tune has made one of our most divine abilities into a boring exercise in perfection. Billie is what the human voice sounds like. This is heartbreak and triumph and our shared humanity. This is music. This is how we know we’re still better than the machines.