Unpopular Opinion, Auto-tune may ruin your legacy.
Updated: May 11
I'm going to start off by saying that this is in no way a judgment on any artist who uses ample amounts of Auto-Tune on their vocal tracks, and is merely an opinion piece about why I think this may actually hurt some artists in the long term.
At some point someone decided they liked auto tune for more than corrective purposes, and from every thing that I have looked up, Cher's 1998 hit "Believe" was the first recording to use Auto-Tune as more of an effect. Lets face it, it was an damn good song, and as you know people will always try to recreate some one else's success. Usually they do so by putting their own twist on it, and so it goes until we have something entirely new. Well what "Believe" led to were artist's who found a great degree of success using Auto-Tune as their primary vocal effect, and a lot of it, and for the duration of the song!
Now at first I thought, that sounds pretty cool, in a novelty kind of way, I mean heck we have been using distortion, and other time based effects on vocals for years, so why not... right? Here's the kicker, it basically created an entire genre of Auto-tune. No other genre exclusively uses any particular effect on the vocals. They might use distortion or a flange on one song, soupy reverb on another, and maybe a completely dry vocal on yet another. But more than anything, what you want is the unique qualities of the singers voice to stand out. Auto-Tune artists basically have said fuck that, lets all sound damned near exactly the same, lets Auto-Tune all of the unique qualities right out of our voices, and that is basically what they have done. What we are left with is an homogeneous sounding vocal that I don't much enjoy, but It would seem that the masses certainly do.
This is where my first warning comes into play, and that is, the masses are fickle, and modern audience's have a notoriously short attention span. Which basically means the longevity of trends is getting shorter and shorter all the time. Certain art forms however have outlived the trends, and talented singers are amongst them. There will always be room for beautiful voices and talented singers such as "Ariana Grande," "Whitney Houston," and "Ronnie James Dio," to name a few, and the list goes on. The reason I believe that these talented artists will always remain relevant is because their talent spoke for itself. They did not rely on a gimmick to stay trendy, and unfortunately, if a vocalist is using Auto-Tune and it just so happens that they don't have a strong voice outside of that, then they better be ready to hop on the next trend or be left behind, and hopefully that trend has room for a less than amazing singer.
Lets do a little thought experiment. Lets say we got Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, and Steven Tyler. We line them all up behind you, and then slap a blind fold over your eyes. We then ask each of them to sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb"(hence the lamb photo, Right). Well if you have ever heard their three very distinct voices, you would immediately, and accurately determine who was who. Now lets say you did the same thing with three random male Auto-tune singers.... do you think you would get the same results? I honestly doubt it, unless you were some kind of expert on Auto-Tune singers! So again this has nothing to do with anyone being a more talented singer. The best singer in the world may use Auto-Tune for all any of us really know (but not likely), and I'm sure a lot of singers who use Auto-Tune heavily on their vocals are great singers without it, but it takes me back to that first point. You strip out the unique, and strong characteristics that may define the voice and replace them with a gimmicky effect. Which takes you from being one of a kind to a dime a dozen. Why would you want to do that? Lets face it, dime a dozen artist don't see a mass fandom over multiple decades
In conclusion, there are a lot of arguments that one could make regardless of which side of the fence you are on, but just as the title suggests, my biggest fear is that if you do happen to be very successful as an Auto-Tune artist, when this fad dies away, as they all enviably do, will you just simply be forgotten? In a time when 15 minutes of fame has shrunk to 5 seconds, and artists and their work are becoming viewed as disposable, I fear that if there is nothing that truly sets you apart then you will be! The Rock legends and Amazing performers of yester year will be remembered for generations to come, because they gave us something to remember. Just a little food for thought before you go hopping on the proverbial "Band Wagon."