TikTok singers autotune

@glernndevern/TikTok THICHA SATAPITANON/ShutterStock (Licensed)

Those impressive TikTok singing videos might not be for real

Anyone can use tuning software.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Nov 22, 2023   Updated on Nov 21, 2023, 8:04 am CST

In each edition of web_crawlr we have exclusive original content every day. On Tuesdays our IRL Reporter Tricia Crimmins breaks down the trends on the popular app that will make you cringe in her “Problematic on TikTok” column.  If you want to read columns like this before everyone else, subscribe to web_crawlr to get your daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

As Stephen A. Smith once said, we have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok and flat out deceived by TikTok singers.

Apparently, they’re tuning their acoustic videos to make themselves sound better. You know, those videos where TikTokers are singing in multipart harmonies while in a garage or a bathroom or their kitchen because those rooms have better acoustics? Well, those stripped-down versions of songs might not sound as good live as they do when they’re posted online.

In a video posted on November 3, singer Glenn Devron sings a stunning rendition of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” that he “autotuned the shit out of,” and shows viewers how singers perfectly tune their videos before the internet hears them.

Devron says anyone can use tuning software to ensure that all the notes they sang are perfectly in tune with the real note—it’s a lot of dragging and dropping—and then edit the video and the tuned audio to match in a video editing software

“Enjoy your new skill duping everybody on TikTok into thinking you are a perfect singer,” Devron says. “When in reality, you’re just a fuckin’ liar.”

In his video’s caption, he says that the dishonesty of many well-known TikTok singers is “wild,” and in a follow up TikTok, he sings clearly off-key and tunes it. 

Why it matters

I’ll admit, I didn’t know that TikTok singers were auto-tuning their singing videos and was truly surprised by Devron’s video. 

But it’s similar to using TikTok filters, which I’ve written about a bunch in this column. The big difference is, however, that TikTok filters identify themselves on videos, and TikTok singers aren’t disclosing that they are tuning their voices

And that secrecy has an effect on viewers: Just like how Photoshop and filters have created unattainable expectations of beauty, tuning software is making people self-conscious about their singing voices

Case in point, a commenter on Devron’s video said that his content about tuning software has made them “feel so much better” about themselves as a singer, and that they’re “so tired of feeling insecure” about their voice.

It’s also worth noting that the impulse to autotune or tune one’s TikTok video comes from all the autotuning and tuning of recorded music that you hear on the radio or on streaming services. If those songs weren’t tuned, maybe TikTok singers wouldn’t want to hide their raw audios, either. 

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*First Published: Nov 22, 2023, 6:00 am CST