The thrill of watching shows like America's Got Talent
or American Idol
is largely rooted in the jaw-dropping, eye-boggling surprise at hearing a preternatural voice emerge from a breed of "dude standing behind you in a 7-11." The unbelievable, those Susan Boyles, make all the nauseating orange judges worth enduring. But there's another brand of unbelievable in music vocals, one as old and tired-out as Cher, its original spokeswoman. I'm speaking, of course, of the "auto-tune," turning humans into robots since 1997. Sometimes these genetically modified humanoid voices can fool you like a Madame Tusaud's wax figure, and sometimes the technology is purposely flaunted like a double-D boob job. But when this choir of the undead attempts, without any sense of humor, to masquerade as the voices of real, 98.6 degree human being, that's when you get an auto-tune atrocity. Here are five of the most egregious.
1. Miley Cyrus, "Party in the USA"
If ET impregnanted Miss Piggy, their child would sound something like this, but better. Her voice is all artificial sweetness and middle-seat on the airplane discomfort, the acoustic approximation of snorting a pixie stick. For someone whose "just bein' Miley," girlfriend is a far cry from straight talk. We're not trying be unpatriotic, mind you. But we just can't get behind a party where everybody's frontin'.
2. Avril Lavigne, "Complicated"
This is what happens when you pair a wide-eyed brokenhearted Canadian girl with a creatively under-stimulated, coked-out sound technician.
3. Tim McGraw
Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be tickle-me-pink cowboys. For the love of all that is Johnny Cash, Tim, if you're going to call yourself a country singer, act like one: drink yourself into oblivion, wallow desperately over "the long-legged one who got away," and use your bare-bones, God-given voice. Here's one faux pas, "Please Remember Me."
4. Owl City, "Fireflies"
If you're a regular on the site, you already know how we feel about our sniffly friend, Owl
. We've always had a soft spot for soggy eyed, doodling white boys though, so we'll keep our grievances brief.
1. Hating goodbyes does NOT make you weird. Every single freaking human being, with the exception of one or two Appalachian hermits hates goodbyes. Goodbyes suck for everyone, bro, you ain't nothing special. That is literally the emo-kid equivalent of singing "I'm weird cause I hate the DMV. And kidney stones.
2. Owl City's voice is to "human being" as Cheese Whiz is to Brie. Is it lunchtime yet?
5. Ron Browz, "Gimme $20 Dollars"
Color me speechless. $20 is a small price to pay for getting my sanity back.
The best anecdote to your worst auto-tune blues? A spot of some genuine stripped down folk music, we're thinkin' Dylan or Simon and Garfunkel. Or if you're just angry at the state of modern music, we'd humbly suggest some pissed-off punk rockers, The Sex Pistols perhaps? Cause try as you might, you can't auto-tune this headache away.