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Author Topic: Why All The Hate Concerning Album/Song Production?  (Read 2713 times)
Rick5150
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« on: April 04, 2017, 05:41:40 AM »

I guess there are fans, aficionados and connoisseurs here, so I need to ask a stupid question... I think I fall into the aficionado category. On what criteria do you judge the production of an album?

People here often complain about the production of a song or album. It really got me thinking as to what I am overlooking. As a fairly old member I grew up with the Beach Boys and appreciate 99.9% of their music - both as a band and as solo artists. Even Mike's stuff. There are so many different sounds and song styles. That does not mean I like all of it, but I can almost universally find redeeming qualities in songs I do not like.

When it comes to production, why do some songs/albums get so much shade due to "bad" production? Two of my favorite Brian albums - Bran Wilson 88 and Imagination always seem to be a target. Different producers may get different sounds from the same material, but the words "better" or "worse" or "too bright" or "too muddy" or "too dated" are all personal preferences and somewhat subjective, aren't they? You say "too dated" and I call it "nostalgic".

What makes one producer better than the other? Is it the ability to put out sounds that are well-received by the masses, or the ability to recreate on media what the artist hears is his head? What else? And which is better?

In the early 80s graphic equalizers were the rage. I had a 1978 Z-28 with an Alpine cassette deck, an amplifier and a graphic equalizer.  You could really mold the sounds that came out of the speakers. My friends would bring their cassettes with them and remark how great the songs sounded in my car compared to theirs.

The thing is, if you took 20 people and gave them the same song and allowed them to fiddle with the 20 band equalizer to make it perfect, no two settings would be the same. So there is no real answer to what is better. Only what is better for me.
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 05:50:58 AM »

Personally, I think the song, at the end of the day, is still the key.  And I think good and great songs can overcame bad production.

Personally, I think some production methods can make for "bad productions".  Most notably autotune, which has no place in real music IMO. 
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 06:19:35 AM »

I agree that the quality of the music is all-important (although having SWD behind the console helps).
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 06:46:47 AM »

Plenty of interesting, broad topics to chew on here.

I think a lot of different concepts are being conflated here.

First there is an overarching issue of *criticism*, meaning not "being negative" about something, but rather analyzing it and having a critical eye about it rather than blindly liking everything. There are some fans that, either because they just love the band or artist so much, or because their personal ethos dictates it, feel they should be or want to be positive about everything. 27 thumbs up for everything. And if that's what float's someone's fan boat, then more power to them. But having a critical eye towards what the BBs have done, especially a (relatively) objective critical eye, is not a bad thing. If someone says *everything* the BBs did was awesome, then I think that's totally cool for them, but I *may* not invest much in having a cool, epic discussion about their music, because talking about what I like about their music means also understanding what we don't like, or what doesn't work, or understanding when the artists we love maybe *were* being lazy, or were being poorly guided by some other hand, and so on. So, while I don't think it amounts to "hate" (a word I loathe using when talking about how we feel about music), criticism that includes being honest and calling something out when it sucks, is very important to digesting and learning about their music. If someone is *always* negative about *everything*, then I'll also of course not weigh that opinion heavily. But I don't really see that much in BB fandom. If one extreme is more prevalent, I see some fans who are sunny-side-up about everything to do with the band.

I also see some more specific music-based stuff getting conflated here as well. For instance, how something is arranged and recorded for an album is very different from, say, the *mastering* of the material. So when one is running stuff through a graphic equalizer at home, they're not impacting (directly) the arrangement or choice of how something is recorded (e.g. 80s synths).

I think I get part of what maybe the original poster is trying to get at, and I think it boils down to the difference between one's own opinions and preferences versus an objective analysis/criticism. So, I can say something recorded in the 80s sounds unfortunately dated, and/or that mucking up a song with DX7s and fake-sounding drum machines is not to my liking, but I can also still enjoy what *is* there. I can't go back in time and change it, so what is there is there and as a BB fan I usually can take something redeeming out of it. So I can say I think, say, Brian's "City Blues" from 2004 is an intriguing composition, but I can also say, especially being able to listen to the circa 1981 home demo, that they kind ruined the song with the arrangement and production choices of the 2004 version.

Or, to get more into *mixing* sort of areas, I can point out how I love "You're So Good To Me", but then point out how it's ruined in a latter-day stereo remix by applying way too much reverb/echo.

To get back to some of the specific examples from the first post, BW'88 and "Imagination", I think asking why the production (or the music itself) is criticized is a valid question. With BW '88, obviously the synths *date* the album, and I think some 80s stuff has invariably ended up sounding *more* dated than even older material based on the synthetic sound. Imagine those songs recorded with all acoustic/analog instruments. Now, maybe some of those songs only work, or work best, with that 80s arrangement. To go back farther, "Love You" wouldn't be the same album had it been recorded with Hal Blaine on drums and one acoustic piano, etc.

With "Imagination", I think the criticisms are not just the sonic qualities of the production itself (meaning the mixing, etc., though that has been criticized as well), but the arrangement/instrument choices. Material recorded with Joe Thomas is often full of nylon string guitars, plinky percussion, claves, oboes, and so on. So, for instance, (and this criticism may go as much for Brian as Joe based on who had which idea), I think maybe "Summer's Gone" might sound better without claves and other percussion. "She Says That She Needs Me" might be better with just basic band instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano) rather than oboes, etc.

Sometimes all of these things are just disagreeable or not our preference, and sometimes these things can seemingly nearly or fully "ruin" a song or album. I think, as BB fans, we mostly tend to be able to pull out what we *do* like of something even if we have major problems with it.

There's also just a terminology thing that can just get into semantics, and sometimes we don't all mean the same thing when we apply terms to our criticism. I would never look at something recorded in the 80s that seemingly sounds "dated" and call that "nostalgic", because we're talking about when it was recorded. Something recorded *today* that is full of 80s synths can maybe be called "nostalgic" (indeed, "synth wave" and other related genres are quite popular now, stuff that sounds very 80s, think stuff like the "Stranger Things" soundtrack). But it wasn't nostalgic back when it was recorded. That was (at least trying to be) modern or cutting edge back then.

Some stuff has its seemingly "dated" sound baked into the project to the point where you could never remove it, because it would fundamentally change it (so stuff like McCartney's "McCartney II" and "Press to Play" are what they are in large part because of the respective low-fi and electronic nature of the arrangements and recordings). Other times, the production maybe seems to hinder good songs more then enhance them. This is even more so the case with mixing and mastering. I'd say "Imagination" falls into this category to some degree, whereas BW '88 is a mixed bag where some of the stuff works best in those synth arrangements, while others would work better without it, while let others transcend it and work in multiple arrangements (e.g. "Love and Mercy").

Long story short, most everything we think about this stuff is subjective. The question is whether a "fan" is interested in *also* looking at something with a relatively objective critical eye as well. (e.g. "This album is cheesy, but *I" still love it", or "This album is objectively poorly mixed or mastered, but it doesn't keep from loving the songs).
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 06:51:03 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 07:30:11 AM »

have you listened to Keepin
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KDS
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 08:41:21 AM »

have you listened to Keepin

I think the low quality of the songs hurts that album more. 

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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2017, 08:56:27 AM »

The production on the 1985 self titled album is right in line with the synth-heavy pop of the era. Now, I love '80s new wave and synth pop, but that style doesn't really fit The Beach Boys, and to be sure, there are some awkward, plastic songs on that album but half the problem is that they're not really very good to begin with. Nevertheless, I really really like 'It's Gettin' Late', 'Maybe I Don't Know', 'I'm So Lonely', 'Where I Belong' and 'It's Just a Matter of Time' despite the synthetic nature of their sound. Good songs triumph bad production. Bad songs seem even worse if they don't sound good.
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2017, 09:24:24 AM »

I am a huge fan of Joe Thomas productions (ducks!).  Imagination is one of my all-time favorite albums - period.  TWGMTR is another.  For Cripes sakes, in the early days Brian didn't have auto-tune but he triple-tracked every voice.  Nothing wrong with making things sound lush and perfect.  I think JT's productions are wonderful.  I think Richard Carpenter is in the same vein and he seems to get more credit these days than does JT.
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2017, 09:33:24 AM »

I am a huge fan of Joe Thomas productions (ducks!).  Imagination is one of my all-time favorite albums - period.  TWGMTR is another.  For Cripes sakes, in the early days Brian didn't have auto-tune but he triple-tracked every voice.  Nothing wrong with making things sound lush and perfect.  I think JT's productions are wonderful.  I think Richard Carpenter is in the same vein and he seems to get more credit these days than does JT.
Bob

I really like Joe Thomas's studio work on Imagination, TWGMTR, and NPP.   

But, if there's a live release from the Pet Sounds Tour, he should be kept as far away from it as possible, after his work on the C50 live CD set.
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2017, 09:41:53 AM »

I am a huge fan of Joe Thomas productions (ducks!).  Imagination is one of my all-time favorite albums - period.  TWGMTR is another.  For Cripes sakes, in the early days Brian didn't have auto-tune but he triple-tracked every voice.  Nothing wrong with making things sound lush and perfect.  I think JT's productions are wonderful.  I think Richard Carpenter is in the same vein and he seems to get more credit these days than does JT.
Bob

I'm with you on that.
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2017, 10:07:25 AM »

I guess there are fans, aficionados and connoisseurs here, so I need to ask a stupid question... I think I fall into the aficionado category. On what criteria do you judge the production of an album?

People here often complain about the production of a song or album. It really got me thinking as to what I am overlooking. As a fairly old member I grew up with the Beach Boys and appreciate 99.9% of their music - both as a band and as solo artists. Even Mike's stuff. There are so many different sounds and song styles. That does not mean I like all of it, but I can almost universally find redeeming qualities in songs I do not like.

When it comes to production, why do some songs/albums get so much shade due to "bad" production? Two of my favorite Brian albums - Bran Wilson 88 and Imagination always seem to be a target. Different producers may get different sounds from the same material, but the words "better" or "worse" or "too bright" or "too muddy" or "too dated" are all personal preferences and somewhat subjective, aren't they? You say "too dated" and I call it "nostalgic".

What makes one producer better than the other? Is it the ability to put out sounds that are well-received by the masses, or the ability to recreate on media what the artist hears is his head? What else? And which is better?

In the early 80s graphic equalizers were the rage. I had a 1978 Z-28 with an Alpine cassette deck, an amplifier and a graphic equalizer.  You could really mold the sounds that came out of the speakers. My friends would bring their cassettes with them and remark how great the songs sounded in my car compared to theirs.

The thing is, if you took 20 people and gave them the same song and allowed them to fiddle with the 20 band equalizer to make it perfect, no two settings would be the same. So there is no real answer to what is better. Only what is better for me.


One of the hallmarks of the greatness of the Beach Boys' recordings lies in the production. Pet Sounds is widely considered to be one of (if not the) quintessential production of all time.

Brian Wilson is the greatest record producer of all time (in my opinion - certainly many other agree). Any non-BW Beach Boys productions will always be in his shadow. And fairly or unfairly, any Brian Wilson production will also be compared to it.

Of course, Brian as a producer is not just Pet Sounds. Some of us find an unmistakable BW flair on recordings like Love You, Friends, 15 Big Ones, etc.

... BUT ... I think the biggest issue with stuff like the albums that you mentioned is the songs can be nice (or even great), but they are "ruined" by what sounds like an appeal to commercial trends of the time. Which have often not aged well (unlike the sounds of the 1960s-'70s era). And they also often lack the integrity/creative vision of earlier recordings.

Contrast that with the Paley session recordings, for example ... they sound authentic, urgent, and unique ... compared to any other BB/solo release since 1980.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 10:13:36 AM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2017, 10:40:16 AM »

Regarding The BBs/Brian's music (and most pop music in general), I generally dig 1980s production, even if it goes overboard sometimes. A good example of overproduction is probably Rock & Roll to the Rescue, which really throws every and the kitchen sink (in a VERY '80s way) at the song... but I still dig the song, and some of the overproduction is just a minor nuisance to me.

But the production in and of itself on BB 1980s songs basically *never*, to my ears, ever strikes me as stomach-turning and gross. At worst it's just clunky and cheesy (Crack at Your Love), but even then there are generally its better parts within the same songs.

Yet... and I hate to say it... some of Joe Thomas' production techniques with Autotune REALLY bug me in a very profound, deep way. A huge turnoff. This is not a slog against Brian - I believe this to be entirely JT's idea/JT's doing. And ditto for the producer on Mike's Alone on Christmas Day. I think, for me, it's a matter of a certain level of blatant fakery attempted to be passed off as legit. That really seems to insult the audience's intelligence and good taste. This is a feeling that is completely different from how I feel about natural double/triple tracking, punch-ins, etc. Those are instances of simply a human touch being stacked on top of each other... whereas a ridonkulous amount of Autotune feels like a human is being turned into a robot.

It's the EXACT same reason why I DESPISE the fake CGI Princess Leah and Tarkin in the latest Star Wars movie.   It's a natural human reaction to have feelings of revulsion by encountering something that's kinda sorta close to human, but definitely robotic at the same time. So incredibly stupid, so incredibly unnecessary. Here's an article that touches on that idea (with regards to how it applies to CGI in films, though I feel *exactly* the same way about egregious Autotune in music):

http://www.livescience.com/16600-cgi-humans-creepy-scientists.html

For those who defend the egregious use of Autotune on BB recordings (small, transparent usage here and there doesn't bug me AT ALL), I'm curious to know how those people would feel if a computer program took the late Carl Wilson's voice, sampled him singing all sorts of words, then created a new song out of synthesizing his voice in a computer program? Where the entirety of a song, the phrasing, etc. was just a fake recreation. I think that would off-putting to say the least, and to me, major overuse of Autotune is only a few steps removed from that.

When Roger Ebert sadly lost the ability to speak, he had a computer program custom made that sampled many of the words he'd previously spoken over the decades, and he was able to type in words and thus he'd audibly "speak". This may have been good for his morale, and probably helped him feel more like his old self. And perhaps a similar good feeling is being had by members of The BBs when they hear themselves Autotuned. I don't know. I'm sure it's emotionally tough as an artist to hear your own vocal abilities diminish with age. But in both cases, I can't deny the creep factor as a listener (and I say that respectfully of the late, brave Ebert - but a robotic voice is just never not going to be creepy to me).

I can still, nevertheless, listen to TWGMTR and try to enjoy it for what it is. There are still some very good songs on it, and I try to let the fact that I have an emotional investment in the band and a love for the voices overrule my more natural instincts at revulsion at the production style. But it's not easy. And recently playing that album for a friend on a car trip (a friend who is a BIG fan of The BBs, but hadn't listened to TWGMTR before), she had an immediate allergic reaction to the production.

Why oh why oh why couldn't all modern BB/BW product sound like the production on TLOS? They finally SO nailed it on that album. Not just the songs, but the production.


« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 01:57:46 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2017, 11:08:07 AM »

When it comes to production, why do some songs/albums get so much shade due to "bad" production? Two of my favorite Brian albums - Bran Wilson 88 and Imagination always seem to be a target. Different producers may get different sounds from the same material, but the words "better" or "worse" or "too bright" or "too muddy" or "too dated" are all personal preferences and somewhat subjective, aren't they?

Your post comes at an interesting time for me, as (being a rather late-to-the-party Brian and BBs fan) I picked up the Brian Wilson '88 album for the first time just two weeks ago. From the bits and pieces I've read about the album over the years -- mostly on these boards, most likely -- I expected the production to be a real horror show and very painfully dated. Going into it with those expectations, I'm actually surprised how very enjoyable it is.

I do tend to prefer simpler, warmer production for the most part though. I can see how 80s production can sound dated in general, and is not always a perfect fit for the BBs.


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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2017, 11:12:34 AM »


Your post comes at an interesting time for me, as (being a rather late-to-the-party Brian and BBs fan) I picked up the Brian Wilson '88 album for the first time just two weeks ago. From the bits and pieces I've read about the album over the years -- mostly on these boards, most likely -- I expected the production to be a real horror show and very painfully dated. Going into it with those expectations, I'm actually surprised how very enjoyable it is.
 

I concur with this statement with regards to how I felt about the Summer in Paradise album when I first heard it. I'd read a TON of hatred towards both the album and its production online prior to hearing any of it. When I finally heard the album, I could certainly admit that it had some majorly bad production in places, but I came in expecting WAY worse. I certainly didn't expect that there'd be about an EP's worth of a pretty ok album buried in there.

I guess hearing something is really, REALLY bad can lower one's expectations to a point where they can be pleasantly surprised.

And I agree that BW88 is not nearly as bad production-wise and it's reputation would make one expect.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 11:13:36 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2017, 01:21:33 PM »

Your post comes at an interesting time for me, as (being a rather late-to-the-party Brian and BBs fan) I picked up the Brian Wilson '88 album for the first time just two weeks ago.

Yes, I have been watching and waiting... Cheesy

Quote from: CenturyDeprived
I guess hearing something is really, REALLY bad can lower one's expectations to a point where they can be pleasantly surprised.


Which is kind of where I was headed. Is it REALLY bad? What would make it better? Once it is "better" would everyone agree that it is better?

I agree with no obvious autotune though. Not on a Beach Boys album. To continue CGI Princess Leia and Tarkin reference - if it had been dead-on perfect, that would be cool, but the most successful special effects are the ones you did not notice. The Star Wars films (excluding the shitty ones) are not movies where you can get away with shoddy effects. Just like the Beach Boys are known for their perfect harmonies and they are not taken seriously if they sound fake.

One caveat: If you can use the creepiness of the noticeable special effect to your advantage to where it actually enhances the medium, then it can work really well. Like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XLu_NTu4aY
The only part of this film I enjoyed.
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2017, 01:37:06 PM »


One caveat: If you can use the creepiness of the noticeable special effect to your advantage to where it actually enhances the medium, then it can work really well. Like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XLu_NTu4aY
The only part of this film I enjoyed.

Good point - if there's artistic intent to make the content creepy-looking/sounding, then that's a cool exception to the rule. But I don't see that ever being the case with music though - and certainly not with this band. I can gladly handle every single other bad production choice the band ever did far more than I can handle the JT robot voices.
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2017, 04:39:52 PM »

My problem with Joe Thomas is that he seems sometimes not to so much be producing Brian Wilson arrangements as producing Joe Thomas arrangements.  I really don't care much for Joe's arrangements, they are gooey, sickly sweet empty calories.  Feel like I hear the Joe taking over the song in a lot of instances, which I don't particularly care for.  I dunno, mebbe he had to.  Mebbe the star was not in shape to do his job.
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2017, 09:30:02 PM »

If you're talking about NPP you are way off base. Thomas had less involvement as the sessions went on.
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2017, 05:24:55 AM »

If you're talking about NPP you are way off base. Thomas had less involvement as the sessions went on.

That doesn't surprise me as the arrangements on that album seem far more realized than the Imagination album (an album I still like though).
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« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2017, 10:00:53 AM »

I think that both cgi and auto tune can be done tastefully. I'm not sure I can explain it. But Brian singing Sail On Sailor and Marcella live in 2012 was good auto tune in my opinion. As for Brian's solo material, I have not cared as much for the Joe Thomas productions/collaborations. No Pier Pressure is was better than his others, but Imaginations, That's Why God Made the Radio and No Pier Pressure doesn't sound as good as BW 88, Lucky Old Sun or Gershwin in my opinion. The only productions worse in his solo era would be the Sweet Insanity stuff. This being followed by some of the best post Landy/ Payley sessions.
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« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2017, 11:46:37 AM »

I think that both cgi and auto tune can be done tastefully. I'm not sure I can explain it.  

This is true. Basically, if it can be done invisibly/transparently, or with very, VERY minimal artifacting, then it's more toward the tasteful side. This goes for CGI and Autotune.

The moment it's blatant, and especially when it's actually for some inexplicably reason done on purpose (where it's MEANT to sound Autotuned, or when CGI goes out of its way to do some really goofy extravagant camera maneuver to be extra showy, with the "let's do it just because we can" type of mindset behind it), it's distracting and worthy of a poo emoji. There's nothing in modern media production, whether music or movies, that bugs me more.
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« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2017, 12:21:17 PM »

I know nothing about autotune, beyond what it sounds like. Is the severity of the autotune enhanced by the amount of correction needed to apply to the notes? In other words, if the notes are only slightly off, will the autotune be less obvious?
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« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2017, 01:57:06 PM »

I know nothing about autotune, beyond what it sounds like. Is the severity of the autotune enhanced by the amount of correction needed to apply to the notes? In other words, if the notes are only slightly off, will the autotune be less obvious?

That's correct. I have used Autotune myself, and I speak from experience by saying that if a note is sung further off from the intended note, the pitch correction artifacts will be far more obvious and icky/robotic sounding. If something is sung just a little bit off, usually it won't really be noticeable. There are other factors as well, such as how prominent in the mix the vocal is, etc.

There are numerous ways to cleverly disguise Autotune being used, and to make its usage super transparent. It takes skill, time, and patience. I don't begrudge its usage in and of itself - just when it's done sloppily or obviously.

But I think some producers either get overconfident in their work, or they actually like the way the artificiality sounds as an artistic choice (because they are used to hearing that type of robotic sound on hit songs on commercial radio). I can't quite figure out JT's intent, but IMHO I think it's a combination of both of those. I imagine that the thought in making certain things sound intentionally robotic might have been "that's what listeners want nowadays" or something like that. Not this listener.

Compare to the minimal Autotune heard on the Gershwin album. I didn't even know it was there in a few spots until someone pointed it out to me, and even then, you have to listen realllly carefully to hear it. They went to great lengths not only to get a great vocal performance, but to make sure that any Autotuning was done tastefully and as transparently as possible. Absolutely different approach to JT.

Why a decision was made to not continue doing records the Gershwin way is beyond me. I'm guessing maybe it's because that record didn't sell, and somebody's bright idea was to "fix" the "problem" with a Young Hip Modern Sound.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2017, 02:20:10 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
joshferrell
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« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2017, 04:39:00 PM »

I know nothing about autotune, beyond what it sounds like. Is the severity of the autotune enhanced by the amount of correction needed to apply to the notes? In other words, if the notes are only slightly off, will the autotune be less obvious?

That's correct. I have used Autotune myself, and I speak from experience by saying that if a note is sung further off from the intended note, the pitch correction artifacts will be far more obvious and icky/robotic sounding. If something is sung just a little bit off, usually it won't really be noticeable. There are other factors as well, such as how prominent in the mix the vocal is, etc.

There are numerous ways to cleverly disguise Autotune being used, and to make its usage super transparent. It takes skill, time, and patience. I don't begrudge its usage in and of itself - just when it's done sloppily or obviously.

But I think some producers either get overconfident in their work, or they actually like the way the artificiality sounds as an artistic choice (because they are used to hearing that type of robotic sound on hit songs on commercial radio). I can't quite figure out JT's intent, but IMHO I think it's a combination of both of those. I imagine that the thought in making certain things sound intentionally robotic might have been "that's what listeners want nowadays" or something like that. Not this listener.

Compare to the minimal Autotune heard on the Gershwin album. I didn't even know it was there in a few spots until someone pointed it out to me, and even then, you have to listen realllly carefully to hear it. They went to great lengths not only to get a great vocal performance, but to make sure that any Autotuning was done tastefully and as transparently as possible. Absolutely different approach to JT.

Why a decision was made to not continue doing records the Gershwin way is beyond me. I'm guessing maybe it's because that record didn't sell, and somebody's bright idea was to "fix" the "problem" with a Young Hip Modern Sound.

Trey Parker (one of the South Park creators) claims that when he had to use Autotune (to do the Kanye West "gay fish" episode) he had to sing way off tune in order to make it sound like it was in tune....lol....so he was basically hinting (in his own way) that Kanye can't sing...which cracked me up...lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4EGYmyC4m4
« Last Edit: April 06, 2017, 04:41:04 PM by joshferrell » Logged
Amalgamate
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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2017, 09:58:11 PM »

Autotune can be a genuine artistic choice. I've heard artists use it to good effect when they want to emphasize an inhuman sentiment or detachment from a situation. It can be used simply to provide textural diversity, which is how Cher used it in "Believe" and is one of my favorite uses of it. It can be part of a genre - T-Pain popularized the association of songs with many autotune artifacts with hip-hop and RnB, to the point where more people associate it with T-Pain than they do with Cher, who pioneered it and had a hit song with it! I don't have a knee-jerk reaction against autotune. I also don't think it means you're a bad singer. I've tried to recreate the autotune effect and in my experience, it has much more to do with the particular autotune algorithm you're using (a bad one algorithm leaves much more noticeable artifacts) and the speed of correction (single most important variable in my opinion) than how bad you're singing. If you sing badly, unless you literally go back note by note and force the singing into a certain melody, it's just going to sound like a distorted version of whatever you sang. There's only so far you can go with autotune and if you change it too radically, you get ridiculous shifts (and that's not what you hear on Kanye West records). Like anything, it can easily become a gimmick in the hands of an unimaginative producer, but that doesn't mean it's inherently worse than, e.g., the gated-reverb drums of the 80s.

With that being said, autotune as used by "legacy" or "classic rock" artists leaves a sour taste in my mouth. If it's being used as a stylistic effect, it reeks of "hey, I'm down with the kids too!" and sounds really painful. Not to mention autotune is already sounding dated - I don't think you can go an entire song with autotune artifacts anymore. If it's being used to "fix" a poor vocal performance but it's not well done and leaves artifacts, then (a) it highlights that you're fixing something, which is bad and (b) that you couldn't even fix it well. Billy Joel's autotuned performance of the National Anthem is my go-to example of really poorly done autotune. I have not heard later BW albums, but I pray the autotune isn't that bad...
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