If you’re as old as me, and you remember the ubiquitous commercials for Memorex cassette tapes, you’ll remember the company’s tag line: Is it live, or is it Memorex?
The claim was that their tapes were so good you wouldn’t be able to tell a live performance from a recording if you were blindfolded.
When it comes to music, as I’ve written before, I’m often very late to the party, so I admit that it’s a bit ridiculous that, when Justin Vernon first put his mouth to the microphone and out came this vocal drenched in Auto-Tune, I was seriously taken aback.
The debate’s been raging for quite some time (just Google a while, you’ll see) as to the artistic legitimacy of this technology, a technology that can both correct bad singing or digitally embellish a vocal to create sounds that would be impossible to recreate without it. But, I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve ever seen Auto-Tune used in a live performance, and I have to say that I have really mixed feelings about it.
On one hand, it seems like it’s no different than a tremolo bar or Wah-Wah pedal or a thousand other electronic effects for an electric guitar. It’s just another tool in a musician’s tool box, and it can be used well or used poorly or overused, depending on the quality of the artist using it.
On the other hand, in a live setting it just seems odd. That’s it. Not wrong, just odd.
The truth is, there’s no doubt that Justin Vernon is a talented vocalist, and there’s a wonderful video of him singing a cappella with two of his mates to prove it. At the same time, I had no problem falling in love with his Auto-Tune-heavy song Woods, as I wrote in June 2011.
For now, I’ll leave it up to you. Here’s the clip from Fallon, an extended version of the Bon Iver song Perth.Vodpod videos no longer available.