The Columbia Chronicle

Almost Famous: Uncovering the celebrity impersonating industry

Marilyn Monroe look-alike

April 11, 2013

 "I'm your biggest fan," are words Carol Woodle hears every day/ Onlookers freeze in pure shock and often approach her, sometimes crying and shaking as they try to express their admiration. “Every sin...

It’s none of your damn business

By Kaley Fowler

January 28, 2013

Jodie Foster’s almost coming out speech during the Jan. 13 Golden Globes left many viewers wishing she hadn’t brought up her romantic inclinations at all. No one would have been surprised if the notoriously secretive actress avoided addressing rumors about her sexual preference that have followed her for decades. Instead, she ambiguously alluded to her sexuality, inciting waves of backlash and confusion, ultimately raising th...

Toronto multi-instrumentalist brings hypnotic sounds to Chicago

By Emily Ornberg

January 8, 2013

Attempting to describe the unique sound of local artist Deanna Devore requires throwing around multiple genres—pop, folk, Brazilian jazz, electronica, soft-rock, dance and orchestral. But if you ask her, her style is simply what comes out when she writes.After making a name for herself in the Chicago music scene, Devore’s second rhythmic pop EP “X Number of Days,” is set to drop Jan. 10 at the release party at Schuba’...

Auto-tone deaf

November 12, 2012

FOR SOMEONE WHO raps about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack, one would assume she’d be a tough bitch who couldn’t care less about public opinion. But in an October interview with Billboard magazine, popstar Ke$ha seemed fed up with negative comments about her musical abilities. In the article, Ke$ha said she has pulled away from auto-tune, which was used consistently on her debut album, “Animal,” because she wants to make something clear: She has legit vocal skills. “I got really sick of people saying that I couldn’t sing,” Ke$ha told Billboard. “I can do very few things confidently in my life, and one of them is that I can sing.” Excuse me, Ke$ha, for assuming your “white-girl rapping” discredits you as the next Adele. It might be a little hard to take you seriously when your lyrics are as substantial as they are wholesome. However, I digress. There’s a larger argument to be made here: that there shouldn’t be an argument at all. Auto-tune, in a lesser-known way, is taking over the music industry whether we as listeners like it or not. Similar to a subtle Photoshop retouch, the use of auto-tune is sometimes disguised from our ears. It all started in 1996 when a man named Andy Hildebrand, who worked for the oil industry at the time, wanted to create a way to use sound waves to locate potential drill sites. While at a dinner party, a guest challenged him to invent a box that would allow her to sing better. He created a device that would automatically alter her voice’s sound waves to a different pitch. After he studied autocorrelation for a few months, he created auto-tune. Now the music industry uses auto-tune plug-ins that take live vocals and automatically tune notes to the correct pitch, digitally creating a better sound wave than was actually produced. Almost immediately after it was released, studio producers and engineers used it as a trade secret to quickly cover up flubbed notes, which saves them the expense and hassle of having to re-record sessions. The program’s re-tune speed can be set from zero to 400. When it’s set on zero, the program will instantly change the original pitch to the target pitch, changing the output pitch and disallowing a natural transition between notes, which creates the robotic, heavily edited, synthetic sound of artists like T-Pain, Cher and Ke$ha. Set on higher numbers, the program will take more time to adjust the output pitch to the target pitch. This method smooths over the edited notes and makes it hard to distinguish which artists are fiddling with auto-tune. If you listened to 10 pop songs today, nine of them would likely feature this technology. Nowadays, anyone can use auto-tune. A $99 version for DIY musicians was released in November 2007, and T-Pain and auto-tune’s parent company teamed up in 2009 to create an iPhone app that features auto-tune software. I’m sure people are infuriated that Ke$ha is a famous performer, because auto-tune can re-create anyone’s voice to replicate recording artists, making her seemingly talentless.This has led people to argue that music was better back in the day, but I would argue that musicianship mattered more “back in the day” because that’s how artists sold records—they performed well. Pitch correcting microphones weren’t invented until the late ’90s, so precision was key. Now, two clicks of a button can get you a perfect sound. It isn’t the industry’s fault, though. Millions of dollars worth of music is illegally torn out of the label’s grasp and put on consumers’ iPods, which forces labels to conduct heavy market research and create airbrushed “Barbie doll” versions of musicians who are guaranteed to sell. With virtually no control over today’s consumer, labels have had no choice but to combine their money and advanced recording technology to make the best-sounding and best-looking artists for the market, forcing the industry into a heavily commercialized post-digital age. Not only does this open up the music industry to performers who are entrepreneurs rather than musicians, it can also make for disappointing concerts and ultimately a more competitive industry. We can’t fight auto-tune (sorry, Jay-Z). Instead, the consumers needs to be aware of its presence. Talented, un-edited artists still exist, but it might take a little more digging to find them. Complaining about the existence of auto-tune or lack of musicianship in today’s popular artists is like complaining that McDonald’s fast food isn’t fine-dining. It’s synthetic and horrible, but it’s everywhere. Whether or not we agree with its nutritional value, it tastes great. 

Parks and Renovation

By Lauryn Smith

December 12, 2011

Grant PArk, one of Chicago’s most famous recreational spaces, is getting a makeover.Beginning in September 2012, the Grant Park garage, which is under the recreational area, is being waterproofed. The park will be redesigned and its top layer will be removed in the final step of the construction process.The new park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., will reflect the desires of community members, said Zvezdan...

Pride vs. church

By Lauryn Smith

December 12, 2011

Parade-goers will be celebrating two hours earlier at next year’s Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade—potentially disrupting the services at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 708 W. Belmont Ave.Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church has petitioned against the 43rd annual Pride Parade’s new route and start time for 2012. The route calls for the parade to pass in front of the church. The parade, which normally starts at noon, will s...

Stopping hunger

By Lauryn Smith

December 5, 2011

One in six people residing in Cook County does not know where his or her next meal is coming from. According to data collected by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, 845,910 people in the county need assistance affording food.The GCFD has partnered with the city of Chicago in a campaign to fight hunger. The “One City, One Food Drive,” which began on Nov. 21 and ends on Dec. 16, is an initiative to collect donations and ...

Marketing initiative to raise city revenue

By Lauryn Smith

December 5, 2011

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is allowing businesses to buy advertising space on many of Chicago’s assets in an attempt to shrink the city’s $635.7 million budget deficit.Emanuel announced the initiative on Oct. 12 during his budget proposal and has since decided to go ahead with the plan to raise revenues to balance the 2012 budget, according to his spokesman, Tom Alexander.“There’s a belief that the city can raise some muc...

Battling child abuse

By Lauryn Smith

November 28, 2011

Organizations across the country are taking action in the aftermath of the Pennsylvania State University sex scandal.One such organization, the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, is attempting to raise awareness of how to prevent child sexual abuse. The nonprofit organization is conducting bi-monthly media receptions in hopes of gaining support for CCAC’s mission.The Penn State scandal has reminded people that sexual a...

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