The first single from Aretha Franklin’s new album went live on Monday: It’s a cover of Adele’s hit “Rolling in the Deep.” And a lot of people are excited about it.
While it is generally accepted that nothing Aretha Franklin does (or wears) is anything less than perfect, the new single has prompted some listeners to wonder whether the singer is being (gasp!) Auto-Tuned — or at least overproduced in some manner.
Especially in the first verse, one can hear a pretty distinct vocal effect that, for some, suggests the use of pitch-correction software. One such piece of software — Auto-Tune — has become so ubiquitous in recent years that artists have started to use it to intentionally alter the sound of their vocals.
Listen for yourself:
It used to be known as “the Cher effect,” The Post noted in 2008, until it became known as “the T-Pain effect,” after a Florida hip-hop vocalist popularized the practice of making himself sound like a signing cyborg or a warbling chipmunk.
People who’ve heard Franklin’s new recording quickly picked up on the vocal production:
What producer decided it was a good idea to autotune damn ARETHA FRANKLIN?? Who can we cut? Who I need to speak to? I am HURT.
— Rafi (@RafiDAngelo) September 29, 2014
Was it Auto-Tune? Similar software? A poor-quality YouTube recording?
Auto-Tune is something listeners generally associate with singers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to hold a note, and not something one generally associates with Aretha Franklin.
In fact, back in 2006, Franklin said in an interview with The Post that she’d never even heard of Auto-Tune.
How do you feel about your voice these days? At a concert at Wolf Trap last summer you said, “If I don’t hit the highest plateau, just imagine it.”
(Laughs.) Just fabulous. I’m very, very happy with it at this point. Very happy.
There’s a big trend these days to use auto-tuned vocals, what do you think about that?
Auto-tuned vocals, it’s a way to digitally correct pitch.
I’ve never heard of that! I’ve never even heard of that. No, I come from the old school where you do it yourself.
While it’s hardly unheard of for a vocalist to use pitch correction, its apparent use on a recording by the Queen of Soul startled some listeners.
We reached out to Franklin’s team on Monday for some more context on the production of this track but have not yet received a comment.
Franklin is 72. She has remained tight-lipped about a recent spate of health problems that took her away from performing for a stretch of 2013, though she returned to work after that.
Now, she’s promoting the new album, “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics,” which, yes, is an entire album of a diva singing songs by other divas. Seriously.
She performed the Adele cover live on “Late Show With David Letterman” on Monday, and her voice sounded … not digitally processed.
After her performance, Letterman asked Franklin about her definition of a diva.
The term “comes from the classical realm,” she explained. “And then they decided that the spin-off would be a female artist who [was] very … particular.”
The crowd laughed.
“Diva, okay? Then we became divas.”
The “Diva Classics” album will be released Oct. 21. This is the track list, via Pitchfork:
01 “At Last” (Etta James Cover)
02 “Rolling in the Deep (The Aretha Version)” (Adele Cover)
03 “Midnight Train to Georgia” (Gladys Knight Cover)
04 “I Will Survive (The Aretha Version) ” (Gloria Gaynor/Destiny’s Child Mash-Up)
05 “People” (Barbra Streisand Cover)
06 “No One” (Alicia Keys Cover)
07 “I’m Every Woman”/”Respect” (Whitney Houston/Aretha Franklin Mash-Up)
08 “Teach Me Tonight” (Dinah Washington Cover)
09 “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (The Supremes Cover)
10 “Nothing Compares 2 U ” (Sinéad O’Connor Cover)
[This post has been updated.]