‘Autotune’ scandal

August 25, 2010, 2:00 AM GMT+0

The overwhelming majority (82%) of Brits think that it was wrong for hit ITV show The X Factor to use autotune software to make some of the more successful contestants sound more musical.

The scandal emerged after fans of the talent show raised concerns about the use of autotune to enhance the voices of some auditionees following Saturday night’s series opener, which pulled in a massive 11.1 million viewers.

Autotune, which is actually a brand name relating to the ubiquitous software, can be used to correct poor pitch and off-key notes on a vocal track. Many artists, including Cher on her famous track Believe, have used the software to create interesting musical sound effects, although its use is apparently common across most artists’ recordings to improve sound.

After Saturday’s show, which saw the usual array of perhaps-misguided auditionees and the requisite ‘sob stories’, online X Factor forums filled up with complaints that at least three of the contestants from Saturday’s show had had their singing enhanced. In response, the show’s producers admitted to the vocal tweaking, but have defended their actions, saying that while footage is edited to create the most enjoyable experience for the viewers after the event, contestants are judged on what they sound like on the day.


The debate has been causing a stir on TellYouGov, where users, or ‘tyggers’, have been keen to voice their opinions, many of which have been negative. One wrote that ‘[it’s] shameful that they're using ‘autotune’ now!’, while another thought that ‘the auto-tuning is dreadful. We want to hear their original voices.’ One tygger went as far as posting that ‘[autotune] should be banned from the airwaves’.

Some tyggers, however, have remained faithful to the show, saying ‘[I] can’t see why there is such a fuss about editing, [it’s] been like it for years and nobody has complained...still a good show’.

However, the X Factor’s sentiment score on TellYouGov has dropped by 100 points to -228 in the last 24 hours, leaving some tyggers to ponder: ‘Will auto-tuning be the next TV phone-in scandal?’

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Related story - The X Factor? 32% feel show 'mocks the vulnerable'

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