Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop modulating your voice

You guys know what I'm talking about? Those pop-y techno-y dance-club songs with male vocalists that use a computer to raise and lower the pitch of the vocals? I remember when I first heard a song that used this a few years ago. I thought, "Huh, that's unique." The next time I heard it I thought, "Hey, they're copying whoever that other guy is." The time after that I thought, "Oh good, this is a trend, isn't it?"

There's a new CD we're playing in the bookstore by a group of super hipsters called Family Force 5. The picture of the five of them on the inside features them all wearing their most ironic-est clothes and best worst haircuts. Their songs are a Very Ironic throw-back to 80s pop with modern computer modulation and mixing. Some of them are also boring yelly modern "rock." So they combine my two favorite musical trends. EXCELLENT. I hope the CD comes packaged with a gun so you can shoot yourself in the liver 30 seconds into the first track. That would be considerate.

(While we're at it, "Stop getting the same horrible-on-purpose haircut as everyone else in your band.")

I really thought something as gimmicky as this modulation thing would die off faster. It's been several years now and it's still around, which means teenage girls are still buying these CDs. Stop it!

**update** I've identified two of the worst songs on the CD, having listened to it about a million dozen times now at work: track 2, "Get Your Back off the Wall" has the lame screamy stuff, and track 8, "Share It with Me" has the stupid modulation stuff during the chorus. I read the lyrics, too; track 2 is about getting angry or pumped up or dangerous or something, and track 8 is the whiniest cry-baby "she left me because I stole her jeans and make-up" song ever. EVER.


BrendoMan said...

Are you talking about auto-tune or are you talking about a vocoder? I haven't heard this group so I have no idea. I like vocoders but in moderation, like Imogen Heap. Auto-tune has been way overused in recent years. When used properly it has its qualities but when used as a gimmick (like Cher or Kanye West) it gets old quick.

jeri said...


Ryan said...

Imogen Heap is the band that did that "Oooo what you sayyyy" song from the SNL sketch with Shia Lebouf, right? That is a unique application, since as far as I know it's their "thing." I wish I knew the name of a song that uses the kind I'm talking about.

When a guy sings "Whooooaaaaaaaaaa," it will artificially dip and raise the voice in the middle of the "whoa," like he's a robot. Does that make more sense.

And yes, Jeri, "Ew."

Justin said...

Not sure, but it seemed Lil Wayne, who needed to pull his pants up, was using something of this sort at the season opener of SNL. I could be wrong.

I mean, I could be wroEEOooOOOAaawwWng.

Ryan said...