Sunday, June 14, 2009

3S1P: Take It Or Leave It

1) "Spitting Games" Snow Patrol
2) "Living in Your Letters" Dashboard Confessional
3) "Bad News" Kanye West

There are people who hate auto tune. They say that T-Pain is ridiculously and that it's gimmicky and overused and ridiculous. This is amusing to me. It is amusing for two distinct reasons. First, auto-tune is just a production technique that's used all the time by artists in every genre. People are just using it in a way that you notice now, so it's not so much auto-tune's fault. Second, I can relate to that feeling. I went through a period where I was extremely...well...particular with my musical choices. I thought that I pretty much had the corner on what was good and that I was pretty accurate in saying that everything else was, well, bad. Most of what I listened to fell into the indie or experimental category because, at the time, I thought that that was the only place where music of true quality existed. Then I realized that music, like all other forms of entertainment is completely subjective and that there's nothing wrong with that. To try to compare The Beatles' White Album with Raffi's "Baby Beluga" is a little ridiculous if only because one is aimed at exploring different genres, redifining rock and the other is aimed at giving little kids something to dance to. I, personally, don't feel like that makes it crap. If you are trying to make art that you can sell, and most music falls into this category, then people buy it or they don't. People listen to it or they don't. And yet we have this need to categorize, to rank, to grade. But let's be honest, at the core of any review of music what we're really saying is "I like it" or "I don't." There's an episode of "The Office" where Andy says that he's not intuitive enough to be a film critic but could be a food critic and could say things like "Those muffins are bad." It's played for laughs, but let's be honest, good or bad is all we're really after. I really don't care if the food at a restaurant I go to is an A on a reviewers grading scale. What I do care is whether or not I'll enjoy it.

This brings me to my take on auto-tune. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. I don't like T-Pain's "I Can't Believe It" but I think that "Blame It" by Jamie Foxx and T-Pain is really catchy and I really like almost all of the songs on Kanye's "808s and Heartbreak." West's mom died shortly before the writing and recording of the album and he uses auto-tune on the album to turn his songs into emo explorations of the loss he experiences. I think it's really creative and it adds a second layer to what he's writing. That being said, I can totally understand why someone else might think it's overwrought crap. In the end though, it's not so much the auto-tune that we're responding to. We're responding to how the auto-tune is used and how we respond to the way that it's used. Depending on the song, we may respond to that use completely differently. And that's okay. To be honest, I'm okay with you not liking any of the same music I like, that's totally okay. You may hate Justin Timberlake, but I personally think he needs to come out with another album. You may not like Lupe Fiasco, but I think he's a genius. Not so much because I think their albums are better than anyone else's but because I like their albums.

In the end, that's all I really care about.


Anonymous said...

don't forget bon iver's genius use of autotune in "woods"!

Whytey said...

oh good point! so, so, so good...

then again, that's just my opinion :)