Sorry Usher, T-Pain Isn’t Responsible for Ruining Pop Music
I don’t consciously seek out T-Pain’s music, but I don’t smash a radio when his songs come on either. It’s music that, with a few exceptions, isn’t for me. When I encounter it, I recognize that I’ve probably walked into the wrong room. So my first reaction to listening to T-Pain recount an encounter with Usher in which the R&B icon told him that he “fucked up music for real singers” was indifference. But as the clip from the new Netflix series This Is Pop began to circulate on the internet, I took the time to develop if not feelings, at least a position.
The first red flag in the story is the part about a flight attendant summoning T-Pain on behalf of Usher — when both friends are already sitting in first class. Though setting aside that what Usher did was tacky and insensitive, the more important observation is that he was wrong.
What Usher told T-Pain does not apply to the entire art form of music, unless one’s listening habits are entirely dictated by whatever is on a Billboard chart. Applying his sentiment to the industry of music, however, is pretty spot-on, even though he picked the wrong target. Seeing as how Usher makes his living as a musician, no one should be surprised that he’d have an opinion on anything that undercuts or hinders what he does as a business entity — I mean, as an artist.
It was never okay to lay the laziness and gluttony of the music industry at T-Pain’s feet… The music industry is always being “ruined” by one development or another.
Let’s clear the air on what’s currently unfolding in online debates: Auto-Tune did not fuck up music. You have to unpack at least two things in that statement before you can even have a useful conversation: