Does Auto-Tune have any place in country music? Listen here and decide


First pop, now country music. T-Pain, you’ve won.

The JaneDear girls, an up-and-coming female duo that shimmied onto the country scene with their self-titled debut in February, are releasing their third single, “Merry Go Round,” next month, and it’s sure to raise a few eyebrows.

The rollicking, fiddle-laced track features a hefty dose of Auto-Tuned vocals, the kind that sound more at home on Top-40 radio than country stations.

Listen to the song below:

As a country fan, I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure how I feel about hearing lead singer Susie Brown sing, “Make a merry go raaah-ound,” through a Derulo’d filter—something about the honky tonk banjo melody and the decidedly new-school use of Auto-Tune just feels incompatible to me—it’s like Ke$ha trying to invade a Brooks & Dunn record! (Though, imagining “My Maria” autotuned is kind of hilarious.)

But others around the EW office haven’t winced at the sound at all. In fact, several members of our music department say they love it, and that country and pop have been converging for years—this is just the next logical step.

After all, the girls do look like bona fide pop stars—I see doppelgängers of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift in the photo above—so why not sound like them too?

Whether you love or hate the track, one thing is certain: it’s a bold song to release as a single. Only time will tell whether country audiences embrace it, or tell it to “Giddy up” and get off the radio.

So let’s turn it over to you, Music Mixers: Does Auto-Tune belong in country music? Or should it stay On a Boat where it belongs?

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Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • NonEntity

    Country needs to dig its heels in or there won’t be any difference between it and pop. Do we want a difference between genres or all the same? I want country to be its’ own genre. No on Auto-Tune forever and ever amen.

    • Hello

      Shania did this with “Come On Over.” Rip-off.

      • Templar

        Yeah, you can thank Mutt Lange for that. He’s terrific at promoting artists to fame and fortune, but no respecter of tradition. Or vows either apparently.

      • Robin

        robotic country vocals? sounds tacky

      • PN

        Shania didn’t do that kind of sound on her album. It’s that big Mutt Lange production and Mike Shipley’s mixing that made her voice sound different. Autotune didn’t really take off until the early to mid 2000s.

  • negatory

    country and others genres have always had a close relationship. the problem here is that the song is bad. it’s like Katy Perry with banjos except Katy Perry songs are hopelessly shallow pieces of mechanized crap. so while this song is loud and obnoxious with a heavy backbeat, it has nothing to do with why I would ever listen to country music…storytelling soul.

  • JLC

    A lot of the country I’ve heard lately has multi-tracked vocals, which also has the effect of sanding off rough edges. It’s not as blatant in its electronic trickery, but it’s close.

  • Cat

    Gross. No!

  • jj

    The last thing auto-tune should do is to tune singers.

  • High Horse

    No music needs autotune.

    • Hugh


    • Flyer


    • Ace

      Preach on, High Horse.

    • xx100

      Double AMEN to no music needs autotune. If you need autotune to enhance your voice you have no business singing. If you have a great voice why in the world would you ruin it with autotune.

    • pitball

      Auto-Tune is okay to use for effect (i.e. T-Pain, BEPS) But Auto-Pitch correct for pop singers is crazy if you can’t sing you have no reason to be a pop star.

      • Kelcie

        That’s the ORIGINAL use of AUTO–Tune….

  • KS

    No I like traditional country with guiter and banjo don’t judge. Autoune is best left for real pop music although country hasn’t really been country in years. More like a bad pop music .

  • RaivynSkye

    Sadly the industry has become a manufactured idea of what country should be over the past 15 years anyway so they might as well throw auto-tune in there while they’re at it. What use to be fun and/or heartfelt music has become formulaic crap that approaches emotions with the sincerity of a Hallmark card and exists solely to sponge money off of people that call themselves country but wouldn’t know Patsy Cline from Patty Loveless. Besides, doesn’t Taylor Swift get played on “country” stations all the time and isn’t she notorious for using autotune, as sweet of a girl as she may be?

    • mandy

      all genre of music doesn’t need any auto-tune at all. and swift doesn’t use auto-tune live and in record.

  • JPX

    All country western music is awful, auto-tuned or not. It’s just a dumb genre full of dopes.

  • Flyer

    I liked the melody, but the lyrics were insipid and I LOATHE Autotune in anything.

    • korri

      I agree, it has a catchy melody and fun beat, but the autotune just makes it annoying! If the song was just them singing, I would probably like it a lot.

  • Samuel

    No matter how much you think that this isn’t country, or how terrible you say auto-tune is, you have to admit… it’s quite catchy. And honestly, that’s all that matters when you’re trying to sell music.

    • negatory

      that’s all that matters when you’re trying to sell music to a certain kind of person. similar to selling restaurants food…some rely on sugar in their secret sauce, loads of salt and grease in their meals. and many people buy it. not me.

      • me

        So true. I was at the CMA Fest in Nashville this year, and they performed. The whole set was horrible! After spending days celebrating how great and real country music is, they stuck out like a sore thumb: completely over-produced and fake. I really hope this is as big as they get.

  • Gaga GooGoo

    Taylor Swift should never leave home without it.

    • mandy

      lol swift doesn’t use auto-tune. get your facts straight.

      • Ron

        Clearly, she does not use it because if she did she would be in tune – which she never is.

      • Rich

        There hasn’t been a single TS song on a single TS album that DOESN’T use AutoTune. It’s subtle, but it’s there if you listen.

        Now live, of course, is obviously a different ballgame…

      • eatyourheartout

        No need to fool ourselves…everybody uses some on the record/studio….

  • Duderonomy

    Clearly somebody has decided slutbots are the solution to the dearth of women on the country charts. (Seriously, the one on the left doesn’t even look, much less sound, human.)

  • beb

    And to think…late last year, people were lambasting Sugarland when they included a reggae-rap breakdown in “Stuck Like Glue.” The auto-tunes is interesting. Interesting enough for me to buy? Probably not. But country music needs to evolve as well – 20 songs on your iPod about crying into your beer is kinda…sad.

  • bob

    Autotune should be banned from use in ANY genre from here on out.
    And just a BTW, modern country music isn’t county music. It’s just pop with a twang, and now, with autotune. Weak sauce.

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