Will 'American Idol' be wrecked by Auto-Tune affair?

News that Auto-Tune was reportedly used to alter act on most recent edition of Britain's "X-Factor" show could mean lost trust for all singing reality shows.

I know that so many readers are huge fans of reality television, especially reality television in which previously unknown people attempt to sing.

So it pains me to bring news that might dull the world's enthusiasm for such pageants, perhaps permanently.

You see, there is a show called "X-Factor." Currently it runs in the U.K., but it is soon to debut in the U.S. It is one of the several shows which has, at its core, the celebrated critic and music mogul Simon Cowell, formerly of "American Idol."

Last Saturday, "X-Factor" caused Britons to leap to Facebook, Twitter, and their drinks cabinets, as it appeared to so many that Auto-Tune was being employed to make certain singers sound better. And certain singers (perish the thought, never mind the sound) worse.

While the producers didn't formally admit to using Auto-Tune's fine equalizing software, they did concede, according to the Guardian, that post-production techniques were used in order to enhance viewing, um, pleasure.

Who could forget "American Idol" great, Ace Young? CC: Yvonne in Willowick Ohio/Flickr

Viewers, however, weren't pleased and vented as they networked socially. The producers, for their part, further reportedly claimed that the live performances didn't matter, as the judges based their fine views on the auditions. Which seems a sweetly curious logic.

As one who has been subjected to more than one season of "American Idol," it is hard to believe that there was systematic use of Auto-Tune. The singers did, on the whole, sound flatter than Thomas Friedman's world. No one could surely have altered the dull warblings of the likes of Jason Castro and Taylor Hicks. If Auto-Tune had, indeed, been employed, it would have been done so by someone with a very cruel sense of the absurd.

Of course, ever since the days of Milli Vanilli and even before, it has been known that subterfuge was used in order to convince the young, impressionable, and desperate that beautiful people could actually sing. Many are the plainer-looking session singers who put their voices, but not their names, to the performances of the famous.

Since Auto-Tune's creation in 1987, it has been, so insiders have it, almost a routine ingredient in so many studio recordings. But if at every live concert and every supposed live singing show you are not listening to the real thing, might you not feel the same inner pain as the British "X-Factor" viewers? Might you not consider spending your time trying to write your autobiography or doing volunteer work?

Worse, the Guardian secured the view of an anonymous, but knowing individual, who claimed that "Auto-Tuning techniques were commonly used, especially in American TV talent shows."

How could this be? Naturally, if one wants to discover the truth about such a smear one goes to the fan forums, where people who live, breathe, and ingest "American Idol" and the like share their expert views.

It seems that the suspicion among some "American Idol" idolizers is that Auto-Tune is used for those tedious, bland, painfully surreal, hideously uncomfortable group numbers, but not for the individual performances.

So here we have yet another example of technology destroying all that is good, wholesome and dear, while merely wreaking artificial havoc in its path.

 

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