No. 53: T-Pain, “Thr33 Ringz”
Suppose, if you were of radio-listening age in 1963, you disliked the productions of Phil Spector. Say you believed him to make all the singers on his records sound the same, and that in any case Dean Martin or Bukka White represented real music. With hindsight, would you not say that you were on the wrong side of history?
If you don’t like T-Pain now, you will be on the wrong side of history later. I don’t like Thr33 Ringz as much as I like last year’s Epiphany. But I’m sure that T-Pain’s wicked Autotune habit will sound better in five years than Spector’s often indistinct Wall of Sound method does to me now. In any case, Autotune only enhances T-Pain’s proclivity toward spiraling melodies: his grasp of harmony and song structure is one that no studio gimmickry can yet manufacture.
More importantly, he’s the most likable guy in pop music since, I dunno, Phil Collins? Grohl? The Biz? The likes of “Long Lap Dance” reveals that he knows the lengths a fellow can go to stretch a dollar at the club. Almost alone in the current hip-hop/R&B diaspora, T-Pain is there for the rest of us.