And then, a decade after Kanye’s Groundbreaking Auto-Tune Opus, came a band called 100Gecs.
Seasoned Producer Dylan Brady and underground alternative pop artist Laura Les joined forces and created what might be this generation’s groundbreaking, divisive work. Essentially birthing the style known as Hyperpop, or at the very least, paving its most popular lane. Combining genres born from the strangest corners of the internet such as Nightcore with everything from traditional pop forms, ringtone music, Avant-garde MIDI Sound FX Music (?) and even Ska and Hardstyle, 2019’s 1000Gecs was also drenched in disturbingly high-pitched, high octane, abrasive Auto-Tune. To the point of near parody of pop music. The reaction was, surprisingly positive: The New York Times listed it as one of the Best Albums of 2019. Critics adored the project for its weirdness, and there are already hundreds of bands innovating on the blueprint The Gecs left behind. However it’s important to note that music listeners were once again divided on the album’s “Experimental Nature.” that critics seem quick to applaud nowadays. User reviews on Albumoftheyear.org reveal both that it took time to appreciate the boundary pushing, and some who are just opposed to it. An example of the former comes from User “cakenator” explaining the slow burn approach to appreciating experimentation jokingly:
“October: man this album sucks
November: oh god this really sucks
December: Y’know, maybe its not that bad, its kinda funny
January: its growing on me”
While others, like the most liked review of the project by user “inglume” explains.
“I get how this record can seem fun and catchy at times, but oh lord is this really, REALLLLYYY obnoxious, and not in a comedic, gimmicky or enjoyable way. Woah it’s loud, it’s EXpEr1MeNtAL woOah, yet it also seems pretty pointless.”
There were a lot of foul words in both of the full reviews and others on this project, but the primary gripe with the album were always the “Chipmunk” autotune vocals. With this style rapidly growing and even appearing in more popular Hyperpop projects, it seems like a new age of Auto-Tune divisiveness is upon us.
No matter your stance on the often controversial history of Auto-Tune, one thing is for sure: Its here to stay, and artists continue to push the boundaries of the plugin as more than it was ever already controversially conceived to be. It’s a way to fine tune the voice as an instrument, and simultaneously a way to make the voice into a new instrument entirely. Auto-Tune will continue to evolve and adapt to the musical landscape and it seems to continue to grow into both a positive and a negative for music listeners, all while paving a lane forward for musical experimentation on all fronts.