Picking up better vibrations? Beach Boys succumb to Auto-Tune for new album

Fans say the results are 'embarrassing' and make the singers - famous for four-part harmonies - sound more like robots

Their exquisite harmonies elevated pop music’s most sun-kissed hits. But now even the Beach Boys have succumbed to Auto-Tune, the technology used to help wayward singers achieve artificial perfection.

The pitch-shifting vocal software, which first came to prominence with Cher’s 1998 chart-topper, “Believe”, has been accused of creating a bland uniformity of robotic, character-free pop voices.

Invented by Dr Andy Hildebrand, a former oil industry engineer, as a computer programme to help erase imperfections and nudge a singer towards the right note, the grating Auto-Tune sound, adopted by Britney Spears, has become a sonic gimmick commonplace in pop and hip-hop hits by stars such as Kanye West and T-Pain.

Beach Boys fans have been shocked to learn that the band, who at their 1960s peak created signature four-part harmonies, perfect in tuning and inflexion, by singing around a piano, had allegedly resorted to the technology.

A new album, Live – The 50th Anniversary Tour, a collection of recordings from last year’s tour, which featured the temporary return of the band’s musical genius, Brian Wilson, is “saturated in Auto-Tune”, according to Uncut magazine.

Identifying a “major problem that will ruin it for some listeners”, the magazine said any human flaws would have been preferable to the treated vocals of band leader Mike Love and Wilson which emerge as “horrible metallic noises”.

Fans on a Beach Boys forum said the results were “embarrassing” and accused the band members of sounding more like robots.

One fan questioned whether the band had even heard the recording before approving its release, an accusation that turned out to be accurate.

The fractious band members said they were unaware of the effects  added to their live performances on the album, which was produced by Wilson and his studio partner, Joe Thomas.

Bruce Johnston, a Beach Boy since 1965, said: “You’re telling me they used Auto-Tune on the album, after the fact? You know more than I do.”

He told Uncut: “I had nothing to do with the production of this album. Well, I’m sorry to hear it. We seem to be living in pitch-corrected times. Perhaps they should start a Grammy category for Best Pitch-Corrected Recording.

“But take it from the horse’s mouth: we don’t use it on stage. I generally think I have decent pitch.”

Dan Gillespie Sells, lead singer with The Feeling, whose hits feature close harmonies, said: “There’s a lot of pressure to use Auto-Tune because it makes a song sound up-to-date and radio-friendly.”

Auto-Tune hits

Cher – Believe

1998 chart-topper exaggerated Auto-Tune’s original pitch-correcting intention to create a deliberate vocoder-style robotic vocal effect for Cher’s anthem. Singer refused record company demand for effect to be removed.

Daft Punk – One More Time

French duo heavily compressed and Auto-Tuned a vocal by Romanthony for 2000 club banger. “It’s just a tool... no big deal. The healthy thing is that people either loved it or hated it,” said the robotic duo.

T-Pain featuring Yung Joc – Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)

Florida rapper T-Pain made an Auto-Tune overload his signature sound from his 2007 breakthrough. Won royalties from P Diddy who admitted borrowing the T-Pain technique and told his contemporaries wishing to follow suit, “sign the papers”.

Kanye West – Heartless

West declared that his 2008 break-up album 808s & Heartbreak would be sung using Auto-Tune throughout, to widespread derision. West said Auto-Tune gave his voice a “heartbroken” quality and brought in T-Pain to assist.

Ke$ha – Take It Off

Electropop queen doused her 2010 debut album Animal in so much Auto-Tune she determined to kill off the effect. “I really can sing. It’s one of the few things I can do,” she complained after critics dismissed her “robotic squawk devoid of all emotion.”

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home