In my last post, I talked about how T-Pain was the most influential artist of our generation. You may or may not have agreed but hopefully you were at least exposed to a new perspective on this topic. T-Pain essentially began the huge trend of autotune filled music that we see filling up a large part of our music (mainly hip-hop/rap) Today, I want to evaluate his influence. Has it lowered the expectations for how talented modern day artists need to be?
This is the main question that arises when people contemplate autotune’s impact on the music industry. In most cases, I don’t think autotune is actually able to override the important of actual artistic talent. An artist really does have to have a creative spark or simply talented. If this wasn’t the case, wouldn’t anyone who has a passion for music rise to stardom?
Let’s take a look at various artists in the industry. will.i.am is an interesting example. This artist’s voice is rather average (for a lack of a better term). If you have heard him without autotune, you might really think he’s just another guy singing. Not bad, but also not that good. So why is he famous? It’s his artistic talent and creativity. will.i.am has a very unique sound and vision for his music. He truly goes the extra mile to make sure that the production of all his music has a particular sound, and that the music videos for his songs are radiating a modern vibe. Take a look for yourself!
This applies to a lot of artists. Take a look at Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak. Kanye’s voice is not particularly good either, but his creativity and concepts that he brought out on this album made this a groundbreaking record. This album made Rolling Stone’s list of 40 most groundbreaking albums of al time. Autotune was used all over this album, but that didn’t necessarily reduce the creativity or artistry behind the music!
Chances are that if an artist reaches a point of popularity by using autotune (and completely lacks creativity/artistry), it is by luck and won’t last long. People easily discover “fake” artists, and love to expose them. You might remember Rebecca Black from 2011. Here’s a reminder of her work incase you forgot!
Black used autotune extensively, and her lack of true talent resulted in a complete annihilation of this song in the mainstream view. The production is also rather bad, and the autotune is not used with good synthesis. Friday was also essentially the only popular song that Rebecca Black made, and it can be seen how autotune cannot make up for a lack of artistry.
Autotune also inspired artists like Future, Desiigner, Travis Scott, Young Thug, Lil Yatchy etc. These artists along with various other’s have formed a new sound in music known as Trap. The vocals don’t sound like anything meaningful and the words are hard to discern. These lyrics are recorded over a beat with a deep moaning bass and shimmering hi-hats. This new sound has gathered a new following, and while it is gaining popularity, a majority of music listeners still disregard this music because it is “trashy” and “lacks creativity”.
But is this really talentless music? I think the idea of “talent” in music in itself is very subjective. What might sound creative and novel to one person, might sound absolutely awful to another (as seen in the case of Trap Music). When it comes to the use of autotune, it is important to draw the line between talentless music and unconventional music . Trap, for example, would fit in the category of unconventional because it is exploring a new sound that hasn’t existed until fairly recently. However, this different sound still has an authentic sense of creativity in that it is exploring a new sound. The difference still lies in that the popularity of these artists is dependent on creativity, rather than their use of autotune.
Let’s wrap all this up! Essentially, autotune has not enabled talentless artists to reach success in music. For an artists to be successful and/or pioneer in sound, he or she must depend greatly on the creative aspects of their music rather than autotune. The autotune is only ever used as something that complements the creativity.
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