If you don't love Autotune with all your heart, I will fight you.
So-called music critics, hipsters and professional pop haters spend a lot of time and energy looking down their noses and tugging their trendy beards, aghast at how Autotune is used as a "cheap crutch" when an artist "can't sing." A few of these haters may have cut their teeth on Cher, and sneered a lot at T-Pain, but really began to warble when Kanye dropped 808s and Heartbreak, an outrageously solid album inexecusably missing from Pitchfork's Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
Indie darling Nick from the Islands tweeted that "non-stylistic use of Autotune was ruining music, and also I can't remember the words to my own songs, and have you any cocaine for me, dear sir?" (Maybe I'm paraphrasing a bit.) 808s was the most appropriate use of Autotune to date: Kanye West suffers for all of us, chief among his outrageous arrows the pain of losing his humanity. (Spike Jonze famously showed us a video of Kanye surgically removing his soul.)
The way I see it, the arguments against Autotune have nothing to do with style. Here are three artists who use Autotune and who have faced a ton of criticism for it:
And now, for comparison's sake, are three groups/musicians who also use Autotune, but don't seem to catch the same flak for it:
Draw your own conclusion.
But there's good news, kids. We have our pop warrior princess, ready to lead us into a post-racial wonderland. I'm talk-talk-talkin' 'bout:
The New York Times' zeitgeist-trackers caught the milestone, calling Tik Tok the "complete and painless assimilation of the white female rapper into pop music." I consider Ke$ha to be a sort of inverse Michael Jackson. To be very rude about it, MJ resonated with popular (white) audiences because, aside from that whole pop mastery thing, his whole life's trajectory was about literally becoming more Caucasian. It's why Prince, unabashedly black, failed in wearing the pop crown, even though he was more deserving. (Whoops, I'm LARPing Russ.) Ke$ha's a California Gurl. Just listen to her voice, and how she says "because." However, her embrace of Autotune puts her on a blackward trajectory and cements her in the urban radio playlists (down here in ATL, anyways.) Our brilliant Kristin put it best to me via IM:
Ms. Dollar Sign wakes up every morning already feeling like a black man, if we can believe what she says.
Preach on, Ke$ha. Let my Autotuned people go.