Auto-tune Your Life

This afternoon I watched as a man in a car nearly reversed over a woman crossing the road. This is not an irregular occurance as I find, ever turning into my dad, that people are increasingly shit at driving. I seem to remember the test to get your licence involving a computer game that didn’t have any guns or special weapons in it, followed by another test where an examiner marked you down if you didn’t drive like you were scared of existence. I’m forever scarred by failing my second test because I stopped so an old man could cross the zebra crossing. But as he crossed, an ambulance put its sirens on 3 cars behind me. Do I kill the man and let the ambulance go? Or let the man cross and delay the ambulance? Apparently there was no right answer but I took too long to decide, so failed. I’ve later realised if I’d just driven into the old man, the ambulance could’ve got him on route. You live and learn.

The bit that was particularly of note of this particular observation of bad driving was that the driver, as well as having his young son in the passenger seat, was also playing, very loudly, a shit song about ‘I love my life.’ It repeated this phrase a lot, in auto-tune, like a robot who was trying so hard to be human but would never manage it while still thinking unimaginative, repetitive beats are the way forward. Over and over again it sang ‘I looovvveee liiiife’ while he proved he didn’t care much for other peoples and nearly knocked some poor woman into the curb. I know right? How is it that people can still enjoy listening to music where the singer uses auto-tune?

Surely we’ve gone through that era of manufactured music and come out the other side by now haven’t we? I realised I’ve definitely hit an older age when I found myself exclaiming at the blasting music ‘what a pile of shit’ but I have a strong confidence it’s not just me. I am generally finding that a lot of new, pop or dance or club (pick your choice) music all sounds very similar. So similar there was a controversy recently wasn’t there? About two singers who had exactly the same backbeat within 2 months of each other? Wasn’t there? You look it up. I’ve got things to do and I’m fairly sure it’ll be easy to find on Buzzfeed or some other website that specialises in pouring information into your mind that you’ll never need and no doubt just eradicates useful brain bits so you become a useless husk that likes songs with auto-tune in. ‘Auto-tune the News’ has been a popular comedy youtube format for years. How can you take music seriously that does that on purpose? Its like music is actually dead.

I remember older people saying the same about the glory hip hop days of the 90s, early drum & bass, and all the music that I still enjoy because I refuse to move with the times. But a lot of those artists, way back then – about 20 years ago – were making an effort to search for obscure music to sample, working out how to make a track their own and getting live musicians to add melody amongst other techniques. I spent the afternoon earlier this week listening to Roni Size Reprazent’s New Forms from 1997 and marvelling at how it still sounded so very fresh. I remember going to see them live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and watching in awe as Jungle Drummer, sick with flu, did those beats there and then on the drums. There was a live cellist, MC, singer and six DJs. I remember the drummer missing a beat and all six (including Size, Hype, Zinc, Pascal, Krust and probably two others with excellent names) all just scratched their records at exactly the same and returned to the right beat in a split second. They didn’t even have to look at each other.

Old man comment it may be, I can’t imagine watching anyone sing with auto-tune live is all that fun. Surely they just hit play on the same beat that someone else has used on all their tracks already because originality has run out, then sing into a machine that makes it sound like they are a soulless robot singing? It can’t be fun live. Not when it’s so bad recorded that it makes you want to reverse over people you don’t know. I say we ban it all for the safety of the roads.

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I’m doing my first ever UK tour in 2014, starting end of January. All dates and most ticket links are up at my website: http://www.tiernandouieb.co.uk. Please spread the word and come along as if you’re not there, it’ll be rubbish. It’ll just be me in a room and if I can’t get 3G I’ll be really bored. The very funny Chris Coltrane is supporting me on some dates and the brilliant Keith Farnan is doing a double header with me on others.

 

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