Friday, January 9, 2009

On vocoder abuse

The vocoder* is a powerful tool. But much like Spiderman's abilities, with the great power of the vocoder comes great responsibility. Use of the vocoder is not to be entered into lightly or unadvisedly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God. The vocoder is properly used to make the human voice sound beautiful, like the voice of a robotic angel. When it is abused or neglected, it is an affront to nature.

The human ear -- though the ability can become warped -- is tuned to hear the difference between the just and proper use of the vocoder and the egregious misuse to which it is so often subjected. Can you not hear that Zapp is good? Does not "I Wanna Be Your Man"** stir in one's heart feelings of the love between a man and his beloved? Does not "Computer Love" do the same, but replacing the word "beloved" with "Tandy?" Conversely, does not Lil Wayne's "Showtime" sound like a shitty, shitty trainwreck? Listen to your heart, Mr. Carter! The vocoder is not to be misused! You are walking a perilous path in the company of vocoder abusers like Cher, T-Pain, and even Bob Schnieder. Walk the narrow path, the path of Zapp, ELO, and Daft Punk.***

* I am using the term loosely to include any sort of modulated vocal effect, including talk boxes and Auto-Tune.

** Yes, I know I've linked to this song before. If you don't want to listen to it, try this instead.

*** And before anybody says anything about "facile electronic dance music," s/he should "STFU," as the kids say.


  1. There's an excellent episode of Dr. Who with that ELO song. This kid is obsessed with ELO and joins a group who matches his obsession... only to find out it's being run BY A MONSTER! OMFG! then The Doctor comes and saves the day.

  2. Sorry, just seeing this. Judging from your posts, you know very little about dance music and its ability to be incredibly facile, but also incredibly great. Given that DP probably represents the ultimate evolution of the genre for you, you are stuck in a sad, sad '90s cul-de-sac. Welcome to 2009, my friend.

  3. so… i read your blog like a heroin addict cashes welfare checks. but for some reason i haven't commented on this post yet… the vocoder is the single greatest achievement of music of the 20th century. period. i say because i am drunk… as usual. but as cheesy as imogen heap can be, this song is the pinnacle (so far) of what can be done with the human voice obscured with technology and passion.