Bizarre news from Spain yesterday, as Luna Ki decided to withdraw from Benidorm Fest. They had put in a request to perform with autotune, but due to Eurovision rules, RTVE could not grant their wish. As a result, Luna has withdrawn from the Spanish national final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. Thirteen acts now remain in the competition, which is set to start on Wednesday.
Luna Ki: “Used by Cher since ’98”
In a statement put out on social media, Luna Ki alludes to the fact that autotune is an important tool in their music. They state it is an integral part of Voy A Morir and without it, the performance just wouldn’t be complete. They go on to add that autotune has been the sound of a generation, at least since Cher started using it back in 1998: Just think of worldwide hits such as Believe, where the autotune is heavily featured indeed. It is not the first time Luna Ki made headlines since being confirmed as Benidorm Fest entrant: Back in December, there was a potential disqualification scare. It turned out that Luna Ki had performed Voy A Morir back in September 2020. However, nothing came from the claim.
However, despite Luna Ki claiming the autotune is crucial to their song, the EBU and RTVE decided not to allow it. According to the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, autotune is forbidden to be used. Because of that decision, we will not be seeing Luna Ki at Benidorm Fest later this week. They will however organise a press conference later today at 16:30 CET to explain their decision, as, according to the statement, they feel a responsibility towards the other contestants and organisers of the show.
What is autotune?
The use of voice effects and autotune at the Eurovision Song Contest isn’t a new debate. Over the years, we’ve seen many examples of acts looking for the edge of what’s allowed. The first major incident regarding voice effects dates back to the Eurovision Song Contest 2000. Winning Danish duo Olsen Brothers used vocoding in the final chorus of their song, giving their voices a robotic effect. Russia, who came in second that year, protested against the use of vocoding, but the protest did not stand.
In 2017, JOWST used vocal samples to perform Grab The Moment at the Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv. JOWST later went on to explain what those were in a lengthy Facebook post. He also explained why they didn’t break the rules of the contest. Vocal samples are a digitalised instrument and, despite backing vocals still performing live back then, didn’t count as vocals. Last year, organisers implemented the rule that backing vocals no longer needed to be live.
Now, back to the question of vocoding versus autotune. There is a difference between the both. Therefore, there is a reason why one is allowed at Eurovision and the other is not. Vocoding is a robotic effect that you mix with an audio signal. Therefore, the pitch and tone of the voice (or instrument) being vocoded will stay the same: The only difference is the robotic effect. If someone misses a note, you will still hear that when using a vocoder. However, that is not the case for autotune. Whereas Cher and Luna Ki do indeed use it to create a voice effect, autotune is a way to correct the pitch. It can actually make you sound in tune when you definitely were not.
In conclusion, you could say that autotune could hide your inability to handle the notes of a song. Vocoding on the other hand can’t do that. With Eurovision having the requirement of the lead vocalists singing live, the explanation of why one is allowed and the other is fairly obvious.
What do you think about autotune at the Eurovision Song Contest? Should Luna Ki have been given permission to use it or not? Let us know what you think!