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Posts Tagged ‘Auto-Tune

“So sa-a-a-ad that you’re leaving”*…

 

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It happened exactly 36 seconds into the song—a glimpse of the shape of pop to come, a feel of the fabric of the future we now inhabit. The phrase “I can’t break through” turned crystalline, like the singer suddenly disappeared behind frosted glass. That sparkly special effect reappeared in the next verse, but this time a robotic warble wobbled, “So sa-a-a-ad that you’re leaving.”

The song, of course, was Cher’s “Believe,” a worldwide smash on its October 1998 release. And what we were really “leaving” was the 20th century.

The pitch-correction technology Auto-Tune had been on the market for about a year before “Believe” hit the charts, but its previous appearances had been discreet, as its makers, Antares Audio Technologies, intended. “Believe” was the first record where the effect drew attention to itself…

And an era was born.  We’ve looked at Auto-Tune before (see here for an example of the difference the technology can make, here, and here); now, from our friends at Pitchfork, an in-depth history of the most important pop innovation of the last 20 years: “How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music.”

* Cher, “Believe”

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As we pine for authentic imperfection, we might recall that it was on this date in 1901 that the Victor Talking Machine Company was incorporated.  A phonograph manufacturer and record company, it operated on disc record patents that it soon licensed to the Columbia Record Company as well (reinforcing Victor’s position as the leading phonograph manufacturer).  In 1929, Victor was merged into RCA.

 

Written by LW

October 3, 2018 at 1:01 am

The Times They are A’Changin…

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan

Rebecca Black’s “Friday” has become a runaway sensation. As Kevin Rutherford, a columnist for Billboard, explained, “Black’s video for ‘Friday’ is one of those rare occurrences where even the most seasoned critics of Internet culture don’t know where to begin. From the singing straight out of Auto-Tuned hell to lyrics such as ‘Tomorrow is Saturday / And Sunday comes afterwards / I don’t want this weekend to end’ and a hilariously bad rap about passing school buses, ‘Friday’ is something that simply must be seen and heard to be fully appreciated.”

And “seen and heard” it has been, closing in on 34 million YouTube views at this writing– not counting the scores of parodies floating across the web.

Music industry exec Jay Frank captures the impact of a performance that has been called “bizarre,” “inept,” and “hilariously dreadful” with a set of a simple comparisons that illustrate the upending of the music business:

WINNER: REBECCA BLACK
As she’s shown on her Good Morning America interview, she is making lemons out of lemonades. Make no bones about it, this song is selling (reached Top 20 on iTunes) and is going to be a valuable copyright for years to come.

LOSER: EVERY SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST BAND
At my SxSW panel on Saturday, I did the math. If you combined every view of “Friday” and its parody videos, approximately 62 Million minutes were spent on this song. That’s presuming that, on average, the viewers only watched half the video. In the meantime, if the approximately 15,000 SxSW attendees watched 12 hours of music a day for all 5 days, that would only add up to 54 Million minutes spent watching music. All hopes of fame from Austin got upstaged by a 13 year old.

WINNER: YOUTUBE
Their ability for anyone to upload anything produces overnight successes like this. This attracts even more people to their platform. Also, this firmly makes them a broadcaster, probably more than any previous video. 21 million views in a week? That’s more than nearly EVERY show on TV (cable or broadcast) receives in a week INCLUDING the DVR play. The fact that they have also successfully conquered with mobile apps and IPTV just increases their reach.

LOSER: VEVO
The music industry’s supposed white knight got upstaged in a big way. Turns out quality (of the song or HD transmission) doesn’t matter. The viewer goes to what they want to see. Also, Rebecca Black got more views in 9 days of “Friday” than Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” did in 3x the days. Lady Gaga’s a huge star. Her new video got massive blog pickup like “Friday.” It was also hugely promoted as an “exclusive” on the Vevo site. If “Friday” can beat all that, something is wrong with Vevo and there’s some explainin’ to do.

WINNER: NEW CHART METHODOLOGY
In Austin, I discussed with Eric Charland of Ultimate Chart about how high Rebecca Black will debut next week. With the numbers she’s had, it’s painfully obvious that this dominated the entire conversation. Quality of the song was irrelevant. Since it wasn’t in heavy rotation on pop radio, it likely won’t be at #1 on their chart, but it’ll properly debut high. This will give Ultimate Chart even more credibility on truly leading in identifying a song’s true popularity.

LOSER: THE ALBUM CHART
When the Soundscan Top 200 album chart is released on Wednesday, Adele will be battling a new album by Rise Against. Nothing against either artist, but this week the battle was Rebecca Black vs. everything else. If you use Google search as a gauge, there’s just no competition. The album chart has been irrelevant for quite some time. It no longer reflects our time. This should end the discussion and let’s focus on singles where the business IS rather than albums where the business WAS.

[TotH to Bob Lefsetz]

 

As we recall that unit sales of the best selling album of 2010 wouldn’t have made the Top Ten in 2000, we might recall that it was on this date in 1973 that U.S. Immigration authorities ordered John Lennon to leave the US within 60 days… thus beginning Lennon’s fight to acquire permanent residency, which he received in July of 1976.

John Lennon’s Green Card (source)

 

The Jury is In: This Year’s Coolest April Fool’s Gag…

From Moog Music (Bob Moog’s legacy company):

MF-401 Auto De-tune
$799.00

Do the vocals on your favorite song sound like a vocoded chipmunk? Yes(?). Did you use extreme auto-tune settings in the sensitive ballad you wrote for your girlfriend, who then dumped you because, as Jay Z said, “Auto-tune is Dead”. Never fear, you can now recapture the emotive intensity of your original vocal performance complete with the off-kilter, yet somewhat charming intonation for which you are known.

Introducing Moog Music’s MF-401 Auto De-tune, featuring Authentic Vocal Imperfection(tm) technology, even a T-Pain vocal can be restored to its complete original character, scrubbing the pitch correction and leaving the untreated vocal in all its wavering sharp or flat glory. Results may vary, and Moog Music in no way bears responsibility for discomfort or irritation caused by the use of the MF-401.

Shipping begins April 1, 2010

(For background, see “All That Glitters…,” “Auto-Tuning the Cosmos…,” and “Auto-Tuning Infomercials…“)

As we rethink our panini preferences, we might recall that it was on this date 1959 that The Coasters’ single “Charlie Brown” was banned by the BBC because it refers to “throwin’ spitballs.”  The ban lasted 2 weeks.  “Young Blood,” “Yakety Yak,” “Poison Ivy,” and other Coasters’ hits were deemed less threatening to the morals of young Britons, and were spared ostracism.

source

Happy National Chocolate Mousse Day!

All that glitters…

In the age of Photoshop and Auto-Tune, it’s no real surprise to find that icons don’t actually look nor sound as they do in the media for which they are adored (see, e.g., here and here).  Still, as this Britney Spears feed reminds us, the reality can be jarring…

Your correspondent has done his best to confirm the legitimacy of the loop.  While there’s (understandably) been no confirmation from Ms. Spears’ camp, it’s included here, as he can find no meaningful refutation…  rather, mostly just comments expressing no surprise whatsoever that things are not as they are meant to seem.  The “T-Pain effect,” as it’s come to be known, is now so widespread (again, see– and listen– here) that it seems to be taken for granted.  Indeed, readers can download a T-Pain iPhone app that will do a similar job for them… all of which must be a frustrating state of affairs for performers like Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones, who actually do their own singing, unaided and beautifully.

In any case, it’s a (painful) reminder that too often these days, what glitters isn’t even nearly gold…  indeed, too often it’s tin.

As we reach for the earplugs, we might recall that it was on this date in 2002 (in anticipation of the first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon) that the TSA “Threat Level” was raised to Orange.  It bounced between Orange (high) and Yellow (elevated) from then until mid-August, 2006, when it returned to Orange– where it remains to this day.

source: Wikimedia

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Written by LW

September 10, 2009 at 12:01 am

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