Sep 18, 2009
This post will NOT tell you how to sound like T-Pain. Sorry, but it’s too easy – all you need to do is buy a copy of the iPhone App that the man himself is plugging to death in the video above.
This post is to say – why the hell would you want to sound like T-Pain in the first place, anyway ?
OK, silly question – he’s a rich, famous, successful and talented musician. But there seems to be an obsession with emulating his highly processed vocal sound – WHY?
Guys, it’s just overcooked auto-tune. Just like Cher (“Believe“) used originally, and Madonna (“Nobody’s Perfect“), and – well, almost everybody else, for a while. Then the idea got stale, happily – and now T-Pain has re-invented it and is selling it to the masses.
But it’s horrible.
Whiny, grating, metallic, artificial, annoying, annoying, annoying… and let’s not even get onto the industry-wide more-subtle-but-just-as-horrible over-use of autotune in general.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind a bit of excessive autotune now and again, as an effect, like the examples above. But on a whole album ? It’s just plain wrong.
The thing that baffles me most though is the desire to emulate it – people seem to genuinely think that using this effect will make their records better – even after high-profile artists like Jay-Z have made the point so well:
What makes T-Pain’s music successful isn’t the autotune.
It’s the hooks. It’s the beats. It’s the humour, the lyrics, the slick production – all that traditional, old-school stuff that has always been at the roots of great music.
The autotune is a nice gimmick which has helped give T-Pain a unique, instantly recognisable sound – well, except for Kanye’s, of course – but without all those other traditional elements of a great production, he’d be nowhere.
Now, here is a truly great use of autotune.
And just for the record, the iPhone app is tongue-in-cheek, I get it. But my question is genuine – why do people like singers who sound like robots ?
(Actually, that’s not really a fair question – the vocoder is one of the most delicious production effects known to man, after all)
Finally, if you really DO want to sound like T-Pain, and have got this far – here’s my favourite YouTube instruction video so far, using only the mighty GarageBand – beware though: this clip contains language from the outset.
Why do you think people love singers who sound like robots ?