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Why were Ben Gibbard and his fellow Death Cabbers donning electric blue ribbons on their lapels at Sunday’s Grammy Awards? To launch a campaign against Kanye West‘s darling studio trick, of course.
Apparently Ben Gibbard hates Auto-Tune. You know, that plug-in tool that lets producers fix off-key vocal tracks. I don’t know why Gibbard is treating this bit of recording technology like it’s something new. Kanye might’ve Auto-Tuned the shit out of 808s & Heartbreak, but they probably should’ve started this campaign in 1988. Its sound is unquestionably prevalent in modern pop music (also called the T-Pain Effect), but when did Gibbard become the arbiter of musical purity? And why has he co-opted the blue ribbon (against child abuse, anti-smoking, among others) as a symbol of his self-righteousness? Really, guys?
“Autotuning is a digital manipulation, a correction of a singer’s voice that is affecting literally thousands of singers today and thousands of records that are coming out,” frontman Ben Gibbard said.
He added: “We just want to raise awareness while we’re here and try to bring back the blue note … The note that’s not so perfectly in pitch and just gives the recording some soul and some kind of real character. It’s how people really sing.”
In defense of the robotic sound in 808s, Kayne wrote:
“…if you don’t like autotune… too bad cause I love it and have been using it since The College Dropout!” Everything in moderation, Ye, that’s all we ask.”
Nick Harmer, Death Cab’s bassist remarked:
“Otherwise, musicians of tomorrow will never practice,” Death Cab bassist Nick Harmer said. “They will never try to be good, because yeah, you can do it just on the computer.”
Gibbard doesn’t need Auto-Tune because he doesn’t sing. You don’t need fancy studio tricks when your vocal tracks are like softly harmonized spoken word. He owes Kayne, T-Pain, and Akon an apology. Because at least they’re trying to belt out a few notes!