It's a sad, sad day for music today.

I've accepted processing (or auto-tune as everyone else calls it - my dad says it's not actually autotuning but whatever.) on songs for a long time now because one, it's what everyone does now and two, I've had no choice in the matter. For a few months now the trend wherever you go is processing - it's done in the US, in the UK, in Korea. There's literally no escape but I think it's gone way too far now. This post applies to everywhere (the US, the UK, etc.) but my examples are from Korea.

It has come to the point where they're not just processing it like Sorry Sorry or Ring Ding Dong, they're strangling the vocals by putting it through what people in production call 'vocorders' and they end up sounding so padded and multi-tracked that it kills. I'd seen it coming with Chocolate Love so bastardized that I refused to even accept the fact that people actually sang it. I mean really, TIFFANY SOUNDS LIKE CRAP ON THE SONG - who does that to a voice like hers? It's catchy, yeah sure but substance without form is just as bad as form without substance. If they can't even get the vocals to actually sound like vocals, these guys need a gazillion-year course on music and what the crap it is. For your reference, here's Chocolate Love:

Now the second song that signaled this bastardization of vocals is f(x)'s new single Chu. When I first heard the song I was so angry because once again, I couldn't recognize 2 of the 5 voices when I could on Lachata. And like the treatment Tiffany got on Chocolate Love, LUNA'S VOICE WAS BASTARDIZED. You can't do this much multi-tracking and processing to a group with this much vocal strength. You can do it to most of Super Junior and SNSD because they need it but to f(x)??!!?!? I call that stupidity. What makes me even more angry is the fact that the song sounds absolutely brilliant live and I mean BRILLIANT. The vocals live are really, really strong and the song sounds cohesive. These people at SM have to start thinking like musicians and do it fast.

The track that drove me to insanity over this though is the new single from a less-famous band, UKiss. I came across them during my K-pop special but didn't think they were good enough to feature and I still think I'm right. The band is weak vocally, they don't have the songs or the backing of a company like SM or YG to make up for their flaws in the talent department. What made me really angry though was this performance:
Did you guys notice something? During the hook they drop their mics and just mouth the lyrics while dancing - that hook is processed and double-tracked and put through whatever else it was like hell. Can they sing that or not? Because if they can't then they can't sing for me. They sing the verses, yeah sure but what is a verse compared to a hook in pop music? PRETTY DAMN IMPORTANT. It's not how it should be but that's the way it is and we all have to learn to accept that. What part of the song sticks to your head when you first hear the song? The hook - that's why it's called what it is. If they can't sing the one part that attracts their listeners, what kind of band is that? Really.

Everyone has to stop depending on processing and studio tricks - it won't work in real life and to a trained ear. Yeah sure they can fool 60% of their listeners but I know a lot of people who know the difference between live and heavily processed, we're here and we're not oblivious.


Want to share any of your thoughts on the above post? Drop a comment here! I read all comments and reply occasionally, especially if you have specific questions for me. :D

Note that comments are moderated. Spam, self-advertising (K-Pop-related and otherwise) and overly vulgar submissions will NOT be accepted. If you want me to promote/endorse/follow/link to your site, please e-mail me at instead.


Recent Tweets

Like Pop Reviews Now on Facebook!

Statistics (Since May 2009)

Music - Top Blogs Philippines Follow on Bloglovin

Blog Archive

You're reading an award-winning blog

The K-Pop Writers' Workshop

A workshop for writers of critical pieces on Korean entertainment -- formal reviews, expository essays/Op-eds, and personal essays/Creative Non-Fiction.
Learn from the best in K-Ent writing