In the wake of the scandal over the use of the pitch-correcting software Auto-Tune on the season premiere of the British singing reality show "X-Factor," the producers of "American Idol" released a statement denying that they had altered contestants' vocals during the competition.
"We have never, nor would we ever, use Auto-Tuning during the 'American Idol' competition," unnamed producers of the show said in a statement released Thursday, according to
href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gI5qIzOlbgpLA85Typ5KzXeN2RpAD9HREM1G1" target="_blank">The Associated Press
href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gI5qIzOlbgpLA85Typ5KzXeN2RpAD9HREM1G1" target="_blank">The Associated Press.
No allegations had been made that "Idol" had employed the technology, but the blowback from the "X-Factor" scandal was so bad that it seems "Idol" brass felt they needed to nip any suggestions in the bud. As the AP noted, singers on "Idol" are often criticized for sounding "pitchy"; during the show's most recent season, mop-haired finalist Tim Urban was often so clearly out of tune that his run on the show surprised many longtime watchers.
There have been other mini-scandals on "Idol," such as the admission last year that the group sing-alongs that begin the results shows are lip-synched. But no one has suggested that performances that count toward the competition are tweaked.
In response to the controversy, judge and producer Simon Cowell said, "people have got to be able to trust 'The X Factor' ... we are not faking anything," and promised that Auto-Tune will not be used again on the show.
The Daily Mail reported that Cowell spent the week speaking to producers of the show — which he will bring to the U.S. in 2011 — and that an episode originally intended to air on September 4 will be shown this Saturday in an effort to move beyond the doctored-vocals scandal.
Producers of the show claimed that Auto-Tune was only used to clean up sound from the audition footage, which is shot in a studio where there are more than 40 microphones in the room. But even a cursory listen to the tweaked bits from last week makes clear that the software beloved by musicians from T-Pain to Sean Kingston was used to clean up shaky vocals from a number of contestants. "X Factor" sources have admitted that Auto-Tune has been employed in the past as well, but denied that it had been used to make some singers sound better and others worse for entertainment purposes.
Though "Idol" producers made the pre-emptive strike against Auto-Tune, they still did not pull back the curtain on the most pressing "Idol" issue: Who are the show's new judges? With the fresh faces expected to take their seats after Labor Day, "Idol" watchers are eager to find out whether Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez have joined the panel.
Do you believe that "American Idol" has never used Auto-Tune? Let us know in comments below.