Jason Derulo – Whatcha Say

First Hit #1: November 14, 2009

Whatcha Say is a song about vocal processing and possibly a breakup. Sometimes I feel like I’m being a stick in the mud about the whole autotune thing, as though I should just accept, if not embrace, the technology. After all, it was popular and apparently other people liked the sound. I’ve even heard a couple songs where it felt artistically justified to put a distancing effect between the listener and the vocalist. But then Whatcha Say comes along and I think “Oh, no, I’m completely justified in my hatred of this technology, because this is crap, but it could have been okay.” The problem is that it’s just plain distracting, throwing in some robot voice when it’s unnecessary, making Derulo sound like he is an inept vocalist even though he’s probably completely competent. The chorus, an Imogen Heap sample, is even worse, so processed I could have believed it came from absolutely anyone. I could have done the chorus, it’s so barely recognizable as a human vocal. Whatcha Say is just an exercise in ruining a vocal, and if it makes me sound like an old fuddy duddy when I make that statement, so be it.

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2 Responses to Jason Derulo – Whatcha Say

  1. musicosity1 says:

    Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYIAfiVGluk) from which the “Hmm, whatcha say? That you only meant well? Of course you did? Hmm, whatcha say? That it’s all for the best?” is a terrific piece of work, intensely personal, dealing with family strife of her child. She gets the vocal effect by singing into her keyboard and then using her considerable piano skills to harmonize her voice in the live setting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay8fE6B_a0g). She’s a total tech-head who in 2009 won the Grammy for “Best Engineered Album,” beating out a host of professional studio whizzes for the work she did on her self-written/performed/produced/recorded masterwork “Ellipse.” She had purchased her childhood home and transformed her old bedroom into a studio, thanks to her share of royalties from Derulo.

    “Hide and Seek” has an unusual song structure: ABABCD. Derulo lifts the “C” section and tempo-matches it to his slow jam apology about being unfaithful to his woman, making Heap’s section into the chorus, as the woman’s retort. He promises to make up for his infidelity with money, but she’s having none of it. Derulo adds his own verse and pre-chorus, which are not bad, for an overall structure of CABCABCDBCC, which is more hooks than most anything we’ve seen here in the last several years. The most annoying bit is his namechecking of himself as both “J.R.” and “Jason Derulo” at the start of the track, as well as record label Beluga Heights at the end.

    There’s an acoustic piano version too, but it still has his unnecessarily (or are they?…) autotuned vocals. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxLiDtaL4HM

  2. musicosity1 says:

    “of her child” = “of her childhood.”

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