fbpx

Auto-Tune: A Short History

Written By Lizzie Arnold on 07/09/2014

autotune3

As if we were touched by a musical angel overnight, the original vocals for Britney Spears’ demo track ‘Alien’, from her 2013 album Britney Jean, were leaked to the cyber world. Here we find her stripped naked (metaphorically I would hope), and left without the trusty safety blanket of Auto-Tune.

Let’s just say it was not her finest effort, and to celebrate this momentous occasion we have decided to take a short trip down memory lane and visit some our favourite moments in pitch correction music’s history.

Auto-Tune; This is your life….. 

cher-2

The Humble Beginnings

Cher ‘Believe’ (1998)

Cher’s late-nineties comeback to music and the worldwide gay community was marked with the release of her, warped, robotic vocal effect single ‘Believe’. At this time, no one had seriously considered the use of Antares’ Auto-Tune pitch correction software as a recording “special effect,” however Cher says that when she heard the sound she demanded it be left in the recording. Good life decision Cher. While this track was incredibly successful it was also polarising as it represented the ‘sound of the future,’ or, as some may call it, the “Cher effect.”

daft_punk_artist_ARIA_040113_640x360

The Millennium

Daft Punk ‘One More Time’ (2000)

Who better to ring in the new millennium than French helmeted-duo Daft Punk, with their Auto-Tune anthem ‘One More Time’. After already using vocorder-distored vocals in their timeless hit ‘Around the World’ they turned to the blessed Auto-Tune with the addition of singer Ramanthony. Despite being met with some harsh criticism as to their use of technology, ‘One More Time’ peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart in 2000, and is one of the duo’s few charting songs in the US, reaching 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 – likening the criticisms to those levelled in the early days of synthesisers in pop music. 

Synths, pfffft. Who uses them in the music industry now?

0620_kanye-west

The Serial Offender

Kanye West ‘808s and Heartbreak’ (2008)

Some artists do it with a song, others make an album of it. Kanye West is a serial Auto-Tuner. His 2008 album release, 808s and Heartbreak, has stylised voice manipulation plastered all over it. In classic Kanye style he used it without a reason or excuse, with tracks like ‘Heartless’ and ‘Love Lock down’ repping Auto-Tune like there is no tomorrow. Instead of leaning on the vocal manipulator as a crutch for some of his arguably shaky singing, Kanye harnesses technology as an instrument and if you hate it – he doesn’t care. He is Kanye West and he’s the best.

CLICK HERE to see Kanye’s latest Auto-Tuned rant at Wireless Festival!

tumblr_m6prseXMtq1qko5nzo1_500

bon-iverqmreview-585x378

The Good 

Bon Iver ‘Woods’ (2008)

It may no means requires a high level of production for indie icon and Auto-Tune enthusiast Bon Iver to create a beautiful atmospheric song, rich crafty pitch shifting goodness. All Justin Vernon’s fine voice needs is to be run through a phase-vocoder and repeat the same paragraph of lyrics 11 times, before concluding with a final momentous built up tension. For indie noobs, this song is most commonly known as the  sample in Kanye “Serial Auto-Tuner” West’s track ‘Lost in the World.’

maxresdefault

The Bad

Rebecca Black ‘Friday’ (2011)

I am speechless. No words can be used to describe this piece of utter lyrical genius.

Britney-Spears-image-britney-spears-36250939-1920-1080

The One You Have Been Waiting For

Britney Spears ‘Alien’ Demo (2013)

It’s Britney Bitch.

What was allegedly said to be a 2013 warm-up tape of the Las Vegas Starlet in Residence, this very raw demo leaves us all feeling that little bit better about our own karaoke voices.

1d-hoax-th-2

And of course…The Virals

One Direction ‘Story of My Life’ (2014)

For those who do not call themselves One Direction fans *cue crying, screaming girls, fainting and a like*, be prepared to instantly fall in love with the superstar heartthrobs. The concept is quite simple, Shred Videos. Videos which craftily remove the audio of some of the world’s biggest music acts and replace them with a ridiculous, yet convincing, auto-tuned version of their song. The end result is a hilariously butchered piece of viral brilliance. You’re welcome: