After suffering through the new Black-Eyed Peas song (which may in fact be the worst song ever written, although we will never know for certain because the council of learned men responsible for awarding such titles all shot themselves upon hearing it) and engaging in an it's-OK-I-want-to-die-anyway game of chicken with my friends over this Brokencyde video (it shows terrific musical growth over their earlier work) I have an important message for the world's shitty, talentless musicians. Gather all ye F-list rappers, Top 40 knock-offs, and aspiring TV talent show rejectees, for I have news. RE: AutoTune. Enough. Just fucking stop it. If the final stage of the decline of a civilization is grotesque self-parody, we are the Roman Empire circa 400 A.D. The use of AutoTune has long since leapt the chasm from novel to moderately cute to is-this-a-joke?. Today's musicians are engaged in a battle, one which has long since spiraled out of control, to make the album or the song which will sound the most dated in five years and serve as the stock punchline for future generations looking to make fun of 2008.
No one in this world listens to the kind of crap that gets airplay on the radio and thinks, "Gee, I'd like this song better if Stephen Hawking sang it." Unless and until that thought crosses someone's mind, AutoTune is the answer to an unasked question. It was invented to fix tracks from talentless models who can't sing. Now its sole purpose is to take ass-rapingly awful music and somehow, in violation of the laws of thermodynamics, make it worse. It is bad enough that the Black-Eyed Peas are so creatively bankrupt that they've taken to writing event-specific "songs" (like the geniuses who realized that they could write a song called "Closing Time" and every bar on Earth would play it to the great delight of sodden, Abercrombie-shirted assholes eating street vendor burritos at 3 AM and power-barfing Jagermeister on a 24 year-old mother of four in an ill-fitting halter top). What purpose other than shepherding mankind closer to complete intellectual collapse is served by AutoTuning the inane vocals?
We know you can't sing. We know you have no talent. We know that highly-paid sycophants are hired to try heroically to make you sound decent, stretching to the limit the deceptive abilities of AutoTune, ProTools, and self-aware Cray supercomputers hidden safely away in the craters of extinct volcanoes. We know you have the integrity of a long-expired Chinese vending machine condom. We know that you would bang your own mother for a plug on TRL. We know you are not terribly bright. Despite these many handicaps you are still Making It in the music industry. Isn't that enough? Aren't you satisfied with being plain, ordinary, run-of-the-mill terrible? When I was your age, pop music horrorshows and one-hit wonders had some self respect. Billy Ray Cyrus. 4 Non-Blondes. Snow. Joan Osborne. Skee-Lo. Lou Bega. They sucked, and the whole world knew it. They didn't resort to cheap signal processors during post-production work to try to make themselves sound better. You fool no one and the effort insults our collective intelligence, or whatever remains thereof.
The next time you reach for the AutoTune controls, ask yourself "Why am I doing this?" The answer, most likely, is that you are a pretty but tone-deaf pile of crap who but for the grace of God and that A&R guy from Columbia you blew in the bathroom at Lit would be getting fired for poor performance from your night job cleaning the grease traps at a Long John Silver's. That is not sufficient cause to start doing robot vocals. We've established that it isn't clever anymore and it doesn't fool anyone into thinking you can sing. You have nothing to gain. You are already successful irrespective of your utter lack of ability. Is that not enough for you? Must you forever be looking for ways to twist the knife in the backs of people with a shred of decency and taste? Must you high-five one another between gulps of Cristal while double-teaming our souls, rejoicing in how lavishly your lack of taste is rewarded?
In closing, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to kill yourself.
28 thoughts on “NPF: AN OPEN LETTER TO TALENTLESS MUSICIANS”
J. Dryden says:
I'll always think of Autotune as "that thing that Cher started using when she'd finally taken too many cocks down her throat to sing without mechanical assistance." As for the BEPs, it's significant that, prior to this posting, the last time I read a piece that discussed, at length, why a certain song was the worst ever, it was "My Humps."
Oh, but there is one step lower than Autotune, and that is screamo. Specifically, screamo covers of "Such Great Heights":
You've heard the one about The Donna Reed Show's producer asking Shelley Fabares, "you sing?" "Well, Mr. [Tony Something]" she began to reply when he interrupted her, "No, I said you sing." So she cut a record, Johnny Angel, which obviously underwent early 60s technology enhancement, a primitive version of this autotune feature, and had to, actually, sing. It was a huge hit, followed by some song by co-star Paul Peterson, which wasn't. Anyway, if this Black-Eyed Peas production sucks as much as you claim, then it will replace the previously worst, most spectacular mess of a record ever, Paradise by the Backyard Light or whatever the hell it was called.
Excellent post. I agree with every word. May you rot in hell for subjecting me to those tunes!
truer words have never been spoken
its sad that in the 1960's the beatles, jimi hendrix, the doors and many other timeless bands were chart topping.
now we have shit heads like Katy Perry, Coldplay, and Flo Rida
Top Single 1968
Hey Jude – The Beatles 8 weeks
Top Single 2008
Low – Flo Rida 10 weeks
i think you can guess which single has talent and which has auto-tune
Hit singles today are just as insipid and stupid as the hit singles of yesteryear. And yes, I'm including the 1960s as well. I think it wasn't long after the 60s that Chuck Berry finally reached the top of the charts with his classic song "My Ding-a-Ling". Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" made the top ten. Hall and Oates had the most top ten hits in the 80s, and I'm sure the second place was a tie between Journey, C+C Music Factory, and Tiffany.
Pop music isn't meant to be long-lasting. Just give it a year and it will be back to Creed and other "rougher" stuff. You'll still retch, but it will be from the spleen instead of the bile ducts next time.
As for the robot voice, I guess it's not much worse than having twenty guest stars for every rap song. "Generic Dumb Hit, featuring Bix, Mobb Dorrk, Fluffer, The Flying Monkey Kung Fu Consolidated Holdings, and introducing Someone's Cousin's Sister's Neighbor" was the trend of the last few years. The world of hip hop was nothing but a junior high girls bathroom: they were afraid they'd miss out if anyone ever did anything without twelve friends coming along.
Kevin D says:
What really bothers me about this song is they keep playing it while showing highlights of Mark Buerhle's Perfect Game on ESPN.
Take a more Hegelian/Darwinian attitude to this phenomenon, Ed. It's a stage in the inevitable dialectic that culminates with robots colonizing our cultural environment, too, not just manufacturing processes. We already have robots reading the news on TV; robots shopping robotically at America's malls; and robots remotely operated by lobbyists busily doing their bidding in Congress. Whoever thought humanity was the end-point of creation, the final purpose of the universe, was obviously wrong. We're but a stage in the evolution from pro-caryotes to quantum computers. Move over, mankind.
Mike Q says:
Amen. I can't stand autotune and the talentless ass clowns who use it.
Being somewhat pessimistic, I think its more likely that the robots will be fighting it out with the zombies. Don't underestimate the zombies…
Point taken, Rick. At any rate, we humans will be mere cannon fodder in the war between machines and the undead. We should stop deluding ourselves that we matter.
I agree with J. Dryden. My Humps was much worse.
For the record, autotune applications are great when used correctly. Sometimes you have limited funds and limited studio time and singers that are good, but not perfect. Sometimes it's really nice to be able to do subtle adjustments on pitch to get it to sound "just right." Most of the time, you never know it was used. It can be a life (and money) saver. And, to be honest, when Cher did it, it was a novel effect and only used in one small part of the song. If it would have ended there, it would still be a novel effect.
However, the way Will.I.Am abuses it is absolutely nauseating.
You know, I'm reminded a bit of the introduction of photography to two-dimensional visual art. When it became possible to mechanically make a "perfect" reproduction of a scene, artists began moving toward non-realistic, even abstract, forms of expression. Perhaps in reaction to it being possible to mechanically make a "perfect" transformation from sheet music to sound, musicians will start making intentionally imperfect works.
And maybe that's why Regina Spektor, despite having excellent vocal chops, puts all kinds of shrieks, hiccups and gratuitous glottal stops into her singing.
This was perfect – best article ever
I wish I was little bit taller
I wish I was baller
I wish I had a girl that looked good
I would call her
Wish I had a rabbit in a hat
With a bat
And a '64 Impala
Skee-lo sucked. He was, however, a welcome diversion from the G-Funk, pot smoking and ganking bullshit that was being churned out at the time. And still better than 90% of the crap that's called "hip hop" nowadays.
Jon Grayson, Esq. says:
Meh I think there's a distinction to be made here. T-Pain and Black Eyed Peas aren't holding themselves out there as the Beatles. I dunno about the Peas, but T-Pain is unexpectedly self-deprecating about his auto-tune use in both interviews and skits mocking autotune he's said he enjoyed.
For me, the tipping point was Kanye's new album. Now we have someone whose done good stuff and holds themselves out as a serious artist using it as a crutch to mask a lack of talent. You can't do both, sorry. You think you're the next MJ or Prince, you have to walk the walk too. Lil Wayne's recent stuff falls under this category for me too.
1) This is not even the worst BEP song. My Humps? No, not that, either. "Don't Phunk With My Heart" hurts me, lyrically, stylistically, tonally, and rhythmically.
2) I don't care for them, either, but I disagree with the assertion that they're talentless. I think Will.I.Am has shown himself to have a gift for a "pop hook". I don't like it, but he's good at it. And heck, I thought Madonna's success was due to her ability to leverage her sexuality and be provocative and play a "role" on stage. By those measures, I think Fergie's more talented than Madonna. Then again, I can't stand Madonna, either.
3) I'm no more done with auto-tune than I am with synthesizers, drum machines, and that sound Clapton puts into the Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". I find they're easy to misuse, and are usually misused. But I think a real artist can use various tools.
Then again, I'm so "you kids get offa my lawn" that I haven't liked any hip-hop or rap since BDP.
I'd just like to point out that Stephen hawking does appear in Keep Talking by Pink Floyd
You should leave Lou Bega out of this.
Ha. I was digging through the archives the other night (yeah, I was THAT bored and desperate to avoid what i should have been doing), and I noticed two things which came back to me while reading this post.
1. Both negative AND positive references to one Lou Bega (the positive ones may have been sarcastic in nature, but in light of Mike's comment above, perhaps not…).
2. Comments by one J.Dryden. Now, keep in mind we're WAY back here – pre-g&t hiatus, circa-fuck-have-i-really-been-reading-this-blog-for-THAT-long? Nice to see I'm not alone.
Well – as a mediocre musician who has performed WITHOUT ANY
AMPLIFICATION (beyond simple miking) before real, live (that is to say: non-undead) audiences of various shapes and sizes no fewer than four times in the preceding eight days, and has never even HEARD of fucking AutoTune, I don't quite know what to say.
You will observe, though, that THAT didn't keep me from saying something.
Well, there's this: I can out-stay-off-my-lawn dbsmall – I hate ALL fucking rap!
JzB the cranky trombonist
Good. Now take the venom left over from writing this post, mix it with the juice of a box jellyfish, squeeze in the poison of an inland taipan, sprinkle some potassium cyanide over the mix, then dip your pen into it to write a post on the inexplicable persistence of Matthew McConaughey.
Erin: Careful about dissing newer hip-hop, lest you get on Christian Landers's wrong side. ;-)
Apropos of nothing: Stephen Hawking has appeared on "The Simpsons" multiple times, which makes me absolutely adore him all the more.
At work I am forced to listen to country music. The lead singer of Rascal Flatts needs to be shot. Or made to sing in public without AutoTune. That'll learn 'em.
jerkin josh says:
Hey, I like that closing time song…
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