For years, there's one "instrument" in popular music that will make me change the channel on the radio -- if I don't crash the car first, that is -- namely, the auto-tune. Popularized by Cher in her song "Believe," this voice warbling software has since been heartily adopted by the likes of Akon, Kanye West, and Britney Spears. The EPA oughta define auto-tune songs as "air pollution."
And those are just examples obvious manipulation of vocal tracks since the software is reputedly the savior of just about any manufactured pop star you care to mention. Frankly, Katy Perry's performances at The Grammys -- if you weren't distracted by her cleavage and Carmen Miranda outfit -- makes one wonder whether her voice hasn't benefitted from auto-tune in the studio.
But, of late, my hatred of auto-tune has softened thanks to its ingenious use in two songs. The final track of Bon Iver's "Blood Bank" EP, named "Woods," uses the software to manipulate Justin Vernon's multi-tracked harmonies. The result, it must be admitted, is stunning. Similarly, School of Seven Bells -- a trio consisting of twin girls and former Secret Machines guitarist Ben Curtis -- use auto-tune to tweak the chorus of a track called "Chain" to make it naggingly catchy.