Producer Teddy Riley says heavy processing of Michael Jackson’s vocals explains why the late singer doesn’t sound like himself on singles from posthumous release Michael. In what seems an awful lot like a tacit admission that Jackson’s vocals were never meant to be heard (and that the notorious perfectionist would never have allowed them to be released), Riley explained how he applied Melodyne – think of pitch-correction software like Auto-tune – to the singer’s voice to make the tracks work:
“(Jackson) would never consider it being a final vocal. But because he’s not with us he cannot give us new vocals,” said Riley. “What we did was utilize the Melodyne to get him in key. With the Melodyne we actually move the stuff up which is the reason why some of the vibrato sounds a little off or processed, over-processed. We truly apologize for that happening, but you are still hearing the true Michael Jackson.”
There is so much bummer in that quote I’m not sure where to start. Michael, which is available for sale today, is ten tracks of new material previously unheard by fans – except for singles released via the Web in anticipation of the album. For those who find themselves annoyed by the incongruities between Jackson’s voice in life and what they hear on his latest album, Riley says:
“We had to do what we had to do to make … his voice work with the actual music,”
Except that it seems like no one really HAD to do anything in this case, though they very well could have just let Jackson’s legacy stand on the music he made before he died.