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DA Music Beat: Autotuned ‘Talent’

24 August 2010



This is Music Beat. Exploring the music world into which David Archuleta is immersed. Featuring Music Biz, Buzz Board, the Way-Back Machine, and more. Enjoy!

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Simon Cowell’s X Factor Autotunes Contestants!

24 August 2010

Autotune on Garage BandToday this Wired.com article, written by Eliot Van Buskirk, will dismay true music lovers, but it isn’t shocking that “X Factor,” a television singing competition, autotunes some of the contestants. Afterall, it’s all about television ratings.The show even makes some of the singers sound worse than they actually do.

Photo: Autotune running on GarageBand, Apple Computer

Mr. Buskrik writes…

Music biz insiders traditionally use the term “X factor” to refer to that indefinable chunk of magic and charisma that separates the true talent from the also-rans. But for some contestants on Simon Cowell’s U.K. talent show X Factor, that certain something was digitally enhanced by Auto-Tune pitch correction.

Take a second to let that sink in: The British show X Factor, set to launch in the U.S. next year, is improving the performance of vocalists in a singing competition. The general idea is to see how well these people can sing, so to tamper with their vocals would seem to nullify the point of the exercise entirely — and Cowell and Co. have admitted to doing precisely that…The controversy started after a performance by 18-year-old student Gamu Nhengu during Saturday’s season premiere of the show. The young vocalist locked onto each note with a tenacity that some viewers immediately noticed had to have been enhanced, particularly during the one short stretch of the second verse.

Watch the controversial performance:

Read the entire article.

Music Biz

Apple: Streaming Music & Video

Apple Computer is taking streaming music—and video—into the Cloud with its $99 per year MobileMe service. Users can store 20 GB of files in MobileMe’s cloud, and access them from any computer, iPad, or iPhone. Last spring Apple purchased Lala, a four-year startup that let users play music from the Web, in the “cloud.” The New York Times says, “Lala’s licenses for streaming music with the major music labels are not transferable to any acquirer, and its service has not been a hit with mainstream consumers.” Still consumers will likely enjoy the ease of cloud music—no more downloading and syncing files on their computers—from a service as successful and reliable as Apple’s iTunes.

Apple is also negotiating with major film studios to allow iTunes users to store their movies and TV shows on Apple’s servers.

Sources: Cnet News
NYT Technology
CNET news

And the Music Beat goes on…but you may have missed MB last time.

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7 responses so far ↓

  • Katheryn | 1 | 24th August 2010 at 8:30 pm |

    Great research, Minna! I’m no expert, but I feel quite certain had I listened to the video clip prior to knowledge about the autotuning, I would have recognized that something was amiss. Her voice sounded so unnatural. I suspect her real voice, even if a bit sharp or a bit flat, would have sounded better than that. It’s sad to see the audience buying into the lie. Mr. Cowell has obviously inured them into accepting this as singing. I pray the American media rips him apart if he tries to do the same thing here.

  • Katheryn | 2 | 24th August 2010 at 8:35 pm |

    FYI: I doubled clicked on the video to go straight to YouTube. Guess what? Adding comments for the video has been disabled. Hmm…I wonder why?!

  • minja | 3 | 26th August 2010 at 11:46 am |

    thanks for your comment, Katheryn. It’s all too reminiscent of the 1950s quiz show scandals. For several decades afterward, game shows disappeared from the airwaves. Maybe the FCC should look into these talent shows, and of course, the (entertainment) news media should do a better job. I found this story on Wired, not on ‘entertainment’ media outlets. Some TV entertainment shows should not be licensed as “news,” IMHO, because their coverage is too biased and not investigative.

  • Katheryn | 4 | 26th August 2010 at 8:50 pm |

    I found the link to the following article – Simon Cowell’s Third UK Cheating Scandal — posted over on Soul David, so I can’t take any credit for digging it up! This article claims that Susan Boyle’s famous audition for Britain’s Got Talent was likely autotuned.


  • Katheryn | 5 | 30th August 2010 at 6:45 pm |

    Reality TV World, August 26, 2010:

    Simon Cowell has gone from “American Idol” judge to a potential headache for the show. A furor over whether Cowell’s British talent show “The X Factor” electronically altered contestant voices has prompted “American Idol” to make a pre-emptive strike.

    “We have never, nor would we ever, use Auto-Tuning during the `American Idol’ competition,” producers of the Fox show said in a statement Thursday, referring to pitch-correcting technology.


    Well, well, well. It looks like this issue is gaining traction I’m happy to say!

  • minja | 6 | 31st August 2010 at 11:59 am |

    hey Katheryn, I hope the media will keep a spotlight on these so-called “reality” TV shows. It’s akin to a newspaper Photoshopping a photo without full disclosure.

  • DA Music Beat: BeBot (unregistered) | 17th September 2010 at 12:05 pm |

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