Friday, March 26, 2010

Wait, What DID You Say?

Was listening to the 22 January 2010 episode of NPR's Planet Money podcast (yes, I'm that far behind in listening to it), and realized I was listening to Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek"

Or wait... is it a remix.  A visit to the blog referenced an artist I'd never heard of, Jason Derulo, singing "Whatcha Say."  Say what?!

New R&B song featuring tons of T-Pain-influenced Auto-Tune and an Imogen Heap sample.  Interesting that I don't like Derulo's use of Auto-Tune but do like the Imogen Heap use?  That's a good question.  After listening to the tracks, I think Derulo used a fairly simple processing that was totally unnecessary.  He seems to have a nice voice, and the stylization that this kind of Auto-Tune effect adds really just hides his voice.  The Imogen Heap use is really just part of an entire package of processing.  After listening carefully, I realized that the lead vocal track is only very subtly processed (except at very specific phrases).  There's actually a harmony track that seems to have been generated by heavily and severely processing the lead track.  That's where all the severe-pitch cutoffs are coming, not on the lead track (the vast majority of the time).  And at times it sounds like there are actually three vocal tracks: mostly unprocessed lead, echo-y effects lead, and heavily processed harmony.

The best part of the Derulo track is the Imogen Heap chorus.  It really stands out.  The re-mixing of that is actually pretty interesting.  It's sped up (and not pitch-corrected) over an interesting rhythm track with some interesting repeats.  I'd much rather have heard the producer remix the original track with some studio singer adding strategic vocals.

By the way, it's obnoxious for the opening non-Imogen Heap lyrics by Jason Derulo to be "Jason Derulo."  Of course, before that, the producer inserted his own name as a vocal.  I just read that it's his signature to do that.  How horrible would Quincy Jones's career have been if he insisted that his name open every track he produced?

Wow, I'm probably over-analyzing this.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your over-analysis. And love the Imogen Heap song. I think I can tolerate and enjoy the auto-tune b/c its basically the accompaniment to this otherwise simple/ acapella song.