Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a heck of a lot easier to be a good singer these days, with the latest technology.
I mean, Auto-Tune is not exactly a new concept. In fact, Auto-Tune software has been around for about 20 years. You may remember it being used on Cher‘s Believe, before it was a widely known production technique. Eiffel 65‘s Blue was another song that used the technique in its early days.
In the late 2000’s, T-Pain used it with such frequency that it came to be very closely associated with him. In fact, his app I Am T-Pain does just that – it auto-tunes your voice. T-Pain appeared on Ellen to discuss and show off Auto-Tune by singing with Ellen DeGeneres.
Now I have seen videos of T-Pain singing without Auto Tune, and the guy can sing. He doesn’t use it to cover up a bad singing voice, he uses it more as an accentuating effect on his voice I suppose.
Now since this technology has become more mainstream, it’s easier than ever to cover up a bad singing voice by processing it with the software in the studio. Got a singer who hit a few bum notes on an otherwise perfect take? Fix it with AutoTune!
That’s not to say that its use is extremely widespread. I mean, certainly if people can’t sing at all, they’ve got no business trying to be a singer. Most pop stars out there do actually have great voices… But some, when performing live, struggle to recreate the magic they made in the studio. More often than not, if a singer is struggling to hit all their notes during a live show, you don’t notice, thanks to the backup singers and band making enough sound to distract you from it.
As soon as you strip away all that stuff and listen to just the singer’s voice, it can become WAY more obvious that they’re struggling (or not at all, as you’ll see in the video below). Someone put together a video of 10 of pop’s biggest singers right now, with the audio being an isolated feed from the singer’s microphone, so you can get a feel for what they REALLY sound like.
As is pointed out in the video, just because a singer is struggling to hit their notes, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad singer. In some cases, it’s the result of being out of breath thanks to all the dancing and choreography that seems to go along with today’s pop music. It’s not enough to be able to just sing – you better be able to shake your butt too!
One of the surprises in that video, at least for me, was Mariah Carey sounding less than stellar. See, when I think of Mimi, I think of this:
Mind you, given recent performances…
… I guess I’m not really all that surprised after all.