Saturday, May 28

BENIDORM FESTIVAL | Luna Ki: What is autotune? Is it legitimate to participate in Eurovision with this tool?


A few days ago the withdrawal of Luna Ki to participate in the Benidorm festival. The reason? Not being able to use the autotune. In this way, he resigns from participating in the festival that will elect the next representative of Spain in Eurovision 2022. In the statement he gave to make the news public, Luna Ki defended autotune as a “musical tool”, however, its use is prohibited in the eurovision rules. But what makes autotune different from any pedal or synth?

As the interpreter of “I’m going to die” related, the autotune has been used by artists such as Cher since 1998. And it’s true. Even groups like Radiohead (No Surprises, Creep, Karma Police) have made use of autotune to create a cleaner or more distorted effect on instrumentals and vocals. Without mentioning, of course, those bands that sound closer to electronics.

While it is true that the autotune tool can be used to give a metallic effect, this tool has many detractors, who consider autotune a fix tool for those who do not know how to tune. The same Christina Aguilera (pop singer but also soprano, with a voice of nearly five eighths) is publicly detractor of autotune as a method to fix those “little misalignments”. However, the music industry is advancing and with it so are more industrial, artificial sounds and, ultimately, other ways of creating and making music. The line of controversy, in the end, is summed up in who uses the autotune to beautify a sound (or even modify it for the album) and who uses it to modulate their voice because if you don’t, it doesn’t sound good live.

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It was the engineer and geophysicist Andy Hildebrand who created autotune in 1996: he came up with the idea of ​​relating the seismic wave data captured in the ocean with the musical scale and thus manipulating the frequencies. The invention was quickly pursued by recording studios to buy it so they could use it on their recordings. Two years later Cher would use it in her song “Believe” and this would give the autotune the name of “cher effect” during years.

Eurovision 2022 regulations

What is the difference between embellishing a sound for a record and performing with autotune on stage? Why do the Eurovision and Benidorm Fest regulations prohibit the use of this voice modulator? The rules of the European contest are clear:

“The backing track may contain backing vocals, but may not contain lead vocals, lead vocals, or any other vocals that have the effect of unduly replacing or assisting lead vocals during the live performance on stage.”

Luna Ki also accepted the regulations for justify the use of autotune, in it it is reported that “composers and producers are allowed to present their work as close as possible to the original composition”, data that the singer used to justify the use of autotune. However, the previous rule prevails in this case as it is the solo voice and from Eurovision they have defended themselves alleging that, if this rule is changed, the contest would be less equitable, something that the festival intends to make a priority.

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Although the regulations do not specify or speak directly about autotune, it is enough to know that this tool is used in many songs to radically modify the main voice and, therefore, would go against the regulations of the festival itself. Beyond that, the controversy continues to be served, to what extent is it legitimate to edit a main voice in a voice contest? Is talent when it comes to making a composition worth as much or more than dedication to tuning and performing live? Is it valid to use voice modifiers in pop music and reserve “purism” for other genres? There are as many opinions as there are musical styles… although in Eurovision, for now, they have it clear.


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