It’s sort of like your TV news as you always wished to receive it… with a poppin’ beat and a happenin’ bass line .”
That’s how The Gregory Brothers describe their series of videos, Auto-Tune the News. I’ve been following the series for months now, and tweeting and forwarding them to anyone looking for funny entertainment at the intersection of pop culture, music, and technology.
Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it below:
For those unfamiliar, there are 3 main points you need to know:
# 1) There’s a digital process in music called Auto-Tune. Think of it as photoshop for your voice. Almost every artist makes small touches to enhance the product, while others use it liberally to radically alter the original recording. You might originally know the effect from Cher’s 1998 Grammy-award winning, multi-platinum dance song “Believe.”
# 2)Â Modern artists like T-Pain have brought it back big time, not only with award-winning songs, but also collaborating with Saturday Night Live for their popular digital short “I’m on a boat,” with Jimmy Kimmel for skits on his show, and he has an iPhone app called “I am T-Pain.” More on that in a second.
# 3) A Brooklyn-based band called The Gregory Brothers have made a hilarious string of viral videos called “Auto-Tune the News,” which mix political and pop culture news footage with a poppin beat and a happenin’ bass line, all set to Auto-Tune. I interviewed Andrew, Michael, and Evan on the podcast.
Auto-Tune the News #2 is one of my favorites, and the original where Katie Couric utters the now-famous line “Very Thin Ice.” As you’ll see, the brothers superimpose themselves into the newscasts, wearing outfits ranging from hip hop garb to an angry gorilla.
As a service (torture) to my readers, I show how Auto-Tune can take a hopelessly horrible singer like myself, and at least give you a laugh. Play the podcast to see how my opening intro sounds after running it through T-Pain’s Auto-Tune iPhone app.
Additionally, I was very curious to see what exactly made for the best Auto-Tune effect… was it the person’s voice, their inflection, their pacing, certain words, or certain vowels?Â The Gregory Brothers answer that in the interview, but I also extended it to songs.
What I found was that the higher the voice, and thus the more you sang out of key, the better the Auto-Tune.
Here are the top 5 songs I recommend for Auto-Tuning:
# 5) The 1986 classic “Your Love” from The Outfield
# 4) One everyone likes to sing along to, “Wonderwall” by Oasis
# 3) Put on your gloves, it’s “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
# 2) You probably saw this coming, it’s “Roxanne” by the Police
# 1) And in the top spot, it’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
As a bonus, I conclude the podcast by singing a line from my top pick, so brace yourself.
My all-time favorite thus far is definitely Auto-Tune the News #8. The Gregory Brothers, along with Evan’s wife Sarah (who is also part of the band), masterfully tie in the opening “Made in America” theme across topics as diverse as Michael Vick’s comeback and the geese problem at airports. Unintentional singers include ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, VP Joe Biden, and Katie Couric’s replacement Maggie Rodriguez (still a fine shawty).
In the interview we talk about:
– The Gregory Brothers’ start with the 2008 presidential campaign, and how they extended it episodically
– What software do they use to create the Auto-Tune the News effect
– The process of putting together Auto-Tune the News, including what programs they use to edit the video and audio
– What type of voice makes a good unintentional singer
– Collaboration with T-Pain for an Auto-TuneÂ skit on Jimmy Kimmel Live
– Their view on the use of Auto-Tune in the music industry
– Whether they’re on “very thin ice” with Katie Couric and other people they’ve featured
Download the podcast from iTunes, or play it now:
Hopkinson Report: Twitter