Content Analysis: Does Auto-Tune Work?

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Tabish Habib
Media Theory & Criticism

Content Analysis: Does Auto tune work?

A lot of people seem to think it’s ridiculous to compare the timeless compositions of the Beatles and Frank Sinatra to the chart topping hits of today. Judging by today’s standards, the statement itself makes a lot of sense cause in truth, a lot of today’s pop artists can’t even sing. In the past, musicians were praised for their musicianship and ability to perform live. Today’s fans seem to be more concerned with the artists’ image and how brightly lit their concerts are. So if these artists have no talent, why is it that their songs sell so many copies? Or why is it that their music is deemed credible? The answer to that question lies inside a proprietary audio processor called Auto-Tune.

Auto-Tune was invented by Andy Hildebrand and it involves a mathematical model called autocorrelation that can detect pitch and although it was initially used in the oil industry, it was eventually transitioned into pop music. Since then, Auto-Tune has been frequently used by many artists since the 90’s with Cher to the present with T.I.

The interesting thing about Auto-Tune is that it’s not just used to fix vocal pitch, but it’s also used creatively by a lot of artists to make their vocals sound loopy or robotic. While Cher’s “believe” was the first song that popularized Auto-Tune amongst the masses, some of today’s artists like T Pain, Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Usher, Kesha along with many others use it as a creative effect tool for most of their music.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to quantify the use of Auto-Tune in the top 40 singles in the U.S.A. By doing this, I intend to figure out whether today’s artists need auto-tune to aid their lack of talent, or whether it’s something they use as a innovative resource. The top 40 as it looks right now is mostly dominated by pop, hip hop, rap and some country. After closely listening to each of...
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