thinglets: Otis Redding

I know that when some of you see the word Otis, you think about elevators. I also know that many people think of Otis Redding with a certain reverence without knowing why. Some artists we accept by default through knowledge passed down as though canon of popular music is a sacred, unchanging brick wall.

The song "Try a Little Tenderness" is "a love song written by "Irving King" (James Campbell and Reginald Connelly) and Harry M. Woods, and recorded initially on December 8, 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with vocals by Val Rosing) followed by both Ruth Etting and Bing Crosby in 1933. Subsequent recordings and performances were done by such recording artists as Little Miss Cornshucks (1951), Jimmy Durante, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, Frankie Laine, Percy Sledge, Earl Grant, Al Jarreau, Nina Simone, Etta James, Tina Turner, Three Dog Night and John Miles and Andrew Strong." (wikipedia)

This performance is 42 years old. And though the song isn't that long, Otis Redding shows why he kicks ass and his style and energy are timeless. If the only version you've heard is the bastardized Chris Brown version, do yourself a favor and share the power, energy and soul of a frontman without equal - Otis Redding.

thinglets: Robot Rappers and Cyber Singers

As I opined in a recent podcast, the idea that Microsoft's Songsmith does such a weak job of providing accompaniment to stray vocal tracks shouldn't surprise me the cynic in me, but it does. I maintain that current technology had advanced enough to allow such a product to not only create pleasing, instead of jarring, tracks, but likely produce the next hit single. That technology has perpetuated lies and boosted artists' "talent" is inescapable.

A Gizmodo article points out the prominence of vocal auto-tuners used by almost every major studio today: 

"And lately, some rappers, most notably T-Pain and most distressingly Kanye West, have taken up the robotic vocal torch. Even stark minimalist Bon Iver used the software, made by Antares Audio Technologies, on his most recent EP. But Time's recent article explains that auto-tune is used on just about every major-label pop album these days, from Britney Spears to Faith Hill. It's now assumed that auto-tuning will be applied to almost any recording that doesn't specifically refuse it."

Thankfully there are still some relatively honest artists and producers who eschew the use of the software and prefer to allow natural singing voices. Most notably producer Rick Rubin and alt-country songstress Neko Case who "in typical brash honesty, declared, "That shit sounds like shit!" regarding auto-tuned singers, and compared it to the artificiality of diet soda."

Coming soon, Skynet recordings pumping out Top 40 hits to your favorite mp3 download service.