281: Incense and Candles

3121 (2006)
The dreaded autotune: refuge of the mediocre and the merely mortal. Music’s much-maligned MSG and the soulless jackboot stomp of capitalism’s expediency. 90% of pop now has this vocal-corrective software, papering over the cracks in singers’ shortcomings but Prince surely has no need for such a crutch? So when he debuted it on Incense and Candles fans cried foul like it was Dylan going electric. This was no patch-up fix or homogenising youth-appeal gloss though. Prince took a leaf out of the Cher playbook and wields the tool like a wizard, warbling in and out of key to stretch the algorithms to their outermost limits. At times imperceptible; at times full T-Pain. The sound of pop eating itself. Incense and Candles may don the standard-issue armour of the war for commercial exposure, but it’s worn in a style that is pure art.

  • Feamelwen

    I can understand the intent behind the use of the autotune in this song.

    It still falls somewhere between Cher’s “Believe” (cheesy, gets a pass because it’s such a naive pop song) and Daft Punk (a philosophical tool to think and thin the boundary between man and machine), in that unfortunate zone where it’s neither cheesy nor philosophical enough. It just sounds tedious to me. Not a fan. I can’t think of any other song where he used it to such extent.

    On another note, I wonder if Tamar is/was any good on her own ?..

    • 500 Prince Songs

      Redhead Stepchild: terrible title, great song. The rest of her output: meh.