Autotune is a program that can alter or correct the pitch of a singer’s voice if it deviates too far from the intended notes. This tool can also be used to lend a robotic, digital sound to a singer’s voice.
Let’s be honest: Autotune has gained a bad rep among many, with plenty of people calling out artists for overdoing it and claiming that they must not sound any good without it.
Some listeners even go so far as to say that using Autotune is cheating!
But the original purpose of Autotune was to help singers out a bit, allowing them to focus less on achieving a near-inhuman level of technical perfection and put more energy into the emotional expression in their art.
And the unique, robotic sound of more intense Autotune settings has become an expressive tool in its own right–especially among pop, electronic, and rap/hip-hop artists. So let’s take some time to appreciate 25 popular musicians who utilize Autotune to its fullest capabilities!
25 Singers That Use Autotune
1. Britney Spears
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Britney Spears, a long-time singer, songwriter, and dancer. Her explosive and influential early career is said to have played a major part in re-popularizing “teen pop” during the late 90s and early 2000s: In fact, she’s often been referred to as the “Princess of Pop” in homage to her iconic work.
One of Britney’s most well-known songs is “…Baby One More Time,” the hit single of her debut album by the same name, which came out in 1998. More than a whopping ten million copies of this single sold, and it topped charts in over 22 countries!
Faheem Rasheed Najm, or T-Pain, is an American rapper and singer-songwriter whose noticeable utilization of Autotune was so influential that it inspired other artists such as Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, and Travis Scott to follow suit. Some of T-Pain’s hit singles include “Buy U a Drank,” “5 O’Clock,” and “Bartender”–which might clue newcomers in to what his lyrics are often about!
The stage name “T-Pain” is short for “Tallahassee Pain” and references the difficulties that this powerful rapper had to overcome while growing up in Tallahassee, Florida. Young Faheem found solace and inspiration in music, and had already set up his own little studio in his room by age 10.
Record producer and rapper William James Adams Jr., who took a clever angle with his stage name Will.I.Am, first gained popularity and a widespread reputation for founding and leading The Black Eyed Peas. The Black Eyed Peas are well known for their blend of hip-hop, rap, and pop sounds–and their distinct elements of Autotune. Will.I.Am has also maintained a successful career as a solo artist, releasing four albums of his own and even foraying into the world of voice acting.
Will.I.Am has also worked as a producer with many artists, and served on the judging panels for several talent competition shows: “The Voice Australia,” “The Voice UK,” and “The Voice Kids.”
4. Aphex Twin
Richard David James, an Irish-British musician and DJ, is often known by his stage name of “Aphex Twin.” He produces unique electronic music, usually ambient with strong elements of techno, so the fact that he’s dabbled in Autotune should come as no surprise. Aphex Twin’s song “Funny Little Man” is often cited as the most easily-recognized example of Autotune in his work, and to label it as “avant-garde” would be an understatement! Autotune is applied to an already-strange vocal sample in this song, creating a surreal atmosphere and an overall very memorable piece.
Rumor has it that, while he always loved experimenting with strange sounds, Richard began creating his own music at age 14 to drown out the vastly different music that his sister listened to!
Singer-songwriter Kesha Rose Sebert, who often stylizes her name as “Ke$ha,” has demonstrated an impressive level of versatility throughout her career, blending pop with rock, rap, and synth elements. Kesha began skyrocketing to fame after the rapper Flo Rida featured her on his major hit single “Right Round” in 2009. She also prides herself on having co-written every song on her first album alongside writing for other artists like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears.
Kesha likes to keep things real and can be quite open about her quirks, willingly sharing details such as her preference for fat, hairy men and the fact that she was born with a little tail that she says was “stolen” from her!
6. Justin Bieber
Ah, Justin Bieber, the Canadian singer who drove teen girls insane when he broke into the world of pop and R&B in 2007: Many people either love or hate him, and much of the controversy surrounds whether or not he can actually sing well without the help of Autotune! Those who say he can will often reference home videos of him singing as a kid before he had access to digital tools.
Technically, Bieber now uses Melodyne, an Autotune competitor that serves the same purpose and digitally corrects pitch. In response to critics claiming that he’s less of a singer because of his dependence on the software, Justin states that just about every artist does it so that they can focus on emotion and stage presence during performances–because, after all, no one’s voice is perfect.
7. Travis Scott
Travis Scott’s claim to fame comes from his talent as a rapper, singer-songwriter, and record producer. He was born Jacques Berman Webster II, and constructed his stage name as a joint homage to his uncle as well as to the inspirational rapper Kid Cudi. Ever since signing with Epic Records in 2012, Travis Scott has released several highly popular albums, collaborated with other artists, and created his own record label for the purpose of providing opportunities to lesser-known artists who are just getting started.
Scott is also known for running the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas–and for having had an on-again, off-again relationship with the famous Kylie Jenner.
8. Lil Wayne
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., or “Lil Wayne,” has been taking the rap industry by storm since he signed with Cash Money Records at only 12 years old. As the youngest artist to join the label, Lil Wayne worked with them until 2018 and has been widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time. His influence on hip-hop music and culture was huge, with his signature vocals and heavily tattooed look inspiring countless fans to express themselves with authenticity.
Interestingly, Lil Wayne cites the rock band Nirvana as one of his childhood favorites, and states that their sound was a major influence in his own work despite the vast difference between the two genres.
9. Lady Gaga
American singer-songwriter and actress Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, is truly a force to be reckoned with. Her interest in musical theater as a teenager served her well as she climbed to fame with hits such as “Poker Face” and, of course, “Bad Romance.” Lady Gaga was actually pressured to use Autotune early on in her career, but preferred to let her natural voice shine as she progressed.
Lady Gaga’s bold visual statements and bizarre videos are as memorable as her music, which incorporates elements from a variety of genres such as pop, jazz, and dance–and you won’t forget her acting roles in “American Horror Story” anytime soon, either!
The lovely Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter kicked off her singing career early, participating in various song and dance competitions in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Later during the 90s, she firmly established her place of power in the music world as lead singer of the best-selling girl group “Destiny’s Child.” Beyoncé never slowed down when the group later disbanded, releasing a couple of solo albums and expanding her career to encompass acting as well.
Talk show host Wendy Williams was booed by quite a few Beyoncé fans for criticizing her and several other artists, claiming that they “need” Autotune to sing. Beyoncé says that she’s experimented with the software but prefers to perform without it.
11. Frank Ocean
American rapper, singer, and songwriter Christopher Breaux, or “Frank Ocean,” appeals to R&B fans who crave a little something different. He experiments with all kinds of alternative, psychedelic, and quirky elements in his music. Autotune is one of those elements: He uses its pitch correction features less for vocal accuracy’s sake and more as an instrument all its own. Ocean also loves to call upon soul, funk, and jazz for inspiration.
Frank Ocean actually broke into the music industry by working as a song ghostwriter, eventually debuting his mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” in 2011. He then got even more creative with his eclectic music style, releasing his debut album “Channel Orange” a year later with Def Jam Recordings.
12. Ye (Formerly known as Kanye West)
Fashion design, rapping, music production–Kanye Omari West does it all. Or, at least, he used to be called Kanye West: In October of 2021, the famous artist officially changed his name to “Ye.” The name “Ye” was the title of this prolific rapper’s eighth album, which was released in 2018 and explored his feelings about family and unity.
Autotune actually made more of an appearance earlier on, starting with albums like “Late Registration” and “Graduation.” Many brutal critics state that Ye simply can’t hold a tune, and therefore needs the Autotune in order to pull off his slower, more emotive songs.
13. Jason Derulo
Born Jason Joel Desrouleaux, Jason Derulo made a name for himself as a dancer, songwriter, and singer from a young age. He grew up in Florida, attending performing arts schools there and writing music that earned him early success as a teenager. He has since written songs for other musicians such as Diddy, Lil Wayne, and Danity Kane, alongside his own success as a musical artist.
Derulo is said to rely heavily on Autotune in the studio, and some people tend to judge his live performance vocals quite harshly. During one live performance, many fans also speculated that the Autotune was set to the wrong key, completely dismantling how the song was supposed to sound!
14. Bon Iver
Some people might be surprised to find an American indie folk band on this list, but Bon Iver has actually made their use of Autotune a signature part of their artistic sound! Singer-songwriter Justin Vernon founded Bon Iver by himself in 2006 while living in Wisconsin, debuting with the album “For Emma, Forever Ago” soon afterwards in 2007. As the band expanded, so did the variety in their sound–with production and engineering still remaining largely independent, just as Vernon always wanted.
After experimenting with several different programs and sounds, Bon Iver predominantly settled upon the Prismizer Effect, which many say sounds more artful than classic Autotune.
15. Chris Brown
Christopher Maurice Brown is known for creating deeply impactful R&B music with aspects of hip-hop, pop, and other genres. Brown has been called one of the most influential and successful R&B singers of all time–and he’s even been nicknamed the “King of R&B,” categorized alongside music icons like Usher. Chris Brown dances and sings well, and his fans adamantly state that he doesn’t need Autotune even though he does use it.
Many of Chris’ songs address the complexities of romance and difficulties with managing emotion. And, unfortunately, he assaulted Rihanna, his girlfriend at the time, in 2009. This awful turn of events tarnished Brown’s reputation, to say the least. Despite his musical talents, his history of violence towards women has turned many former fans away.
16. Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., a man of many talents, is universally known as Snoop Dogg–although he’s also cycled through the names “Snoop Doggy Dog” and “Snoop Lion.” His repertoire is long: He’s a rapper, a songwriter, an entrepreneur, an actor, and a media personality. Snoop Dogg was featured on Dr. Dre’s single “Deep Cover” in 1992, and his career soared upwards from there until he sold over 23 million albums in the USA alone–and 35 million worldwide.
Alongside his musical prowess and skillful utilization of Autotune as a stylistic element, Snoop Dogg is known for his unfiltered self-expression: He provided ten reasons on Instagram to vote for Barack Obama as president, and let’s just say that “He’s BFFs with Jay-Z” was among the most family-friendly by far!
Rapper and singer Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, professionally known as “Future,” is known for his incredibly prolific career in hip-hop, mumble, and rap music. He got started and first adopted his stage name during his stint with “The Dungeon Family,” a southern hip-hop musical collective that pulled inspiration from soul and funk. Future was encouraged to make the most of his potential as a rapper and went on to sign with A1 Recordings, releasing several mixtapes throughout 2010.
Future honed his musical style into “trap,” a subgenre that relies heavily on gritty themes of street life and illicit substance use. He’s used Autotune in both his singing and rapping bits, although he’s moved away from it as a whole during his more recent work.
18. Daft Punk
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter founded the duo “Daft Punk” in Paris, France, creating a unique electronic blend of techno, funk, pop, and other sounds. Alongside using drum machines, synthesizers, and a plethora of electronic effects, Daft Punk also carried their musical themes over into their image: They donned futuristic helmets and gloves, presenting themselves to the world through memorable robot personas.
It probably comes as no surprise that artists like Daft Punk would use Autotune to bring choice vocal samples in their work to the next level! Songs like “One More Time” really let Autotune take center stage to give off that robotic sound. Daft Punk split up in 2021, but fans continue to hold out hope for more music in the future.
19. James Blake
The multi-talented James Blake Litherland gained fame in the UK–and around the world–with his skills as a singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. His style blends R&B, UK Bass, soul, pop, and electronic elements–and he has no qualms about embracing Autotune as a stylistic tool in songs such as “Put That Away and Talk To Me.” But don’t think for a moment that he uses Autotune as a crutch–he’s so good that he’s been nicknamed “One-Take Blake,” after all!
James Blake has offered up his unique sound and production skills in collaborations with many artists, including Bon Iver, Mount Kimbie, Frank Ocean, and Beyoncé.
Synth, pop, rock, disco, and punk elements all came together to comprise the signature sound of the electronic band “Chromatics.” Autotune was also featured in the song “These Streets Will Never Look the Same,” setting it apart from other songs that stayed more faithful to Ruth Radelet’s vocals. The other band members mainly consisted of Adam Miller, Johnny Jewel, and Nat Walker–but the band’s lineup and structure were as chaotic as their music could be, and at one point Adam Miller was the sole band member left!
Johnny Jewel and Mike Simonetti formed the record label “Italians Do It Better” in 2007, which released music by Chromatics. While Chromatics disbanded in 2021, rumor has it that Johnny Jewel will carry on its influence through his label.
21. Nicki Minaj
Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty, or Nicki Minaj, is known for everything from her rapping and songwriting to her provocative dance moves and eye-popping music videos. Fans and critics have called her the “Queen of Hip-Hop” and the “Queen of Rap”–titles that seem well-deserved when you consider that her debut album “Pink Friday” topped the U.S Billboard 200. Oh, and she’s sold over 100 million records around the world, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.
Nicki Minaj made several breakthroughs as a solo female rapper, including being the first to rack up a billion views on a single YouTube video–and yes, it was the music video for “Anaconda!” She’s also worked as an actor in several films and served as a judge on American Idol.
22. Chance the Rapper
Chancelor Johnathan Bennett released “10 Day,” his debut mixtape, in 2012–and then his reputation really took off with “Acid Rap” in 2013. Chance the Rapper then earned three Grammys with his third mixtape, “Coloring Book,” in which he collaborated with artists including Ye (then still known as Kanye West), Justin Bieber, and 2 Chainz.
Chance the Rapper is also a member of the Social Experiment, lending his vocals to the band alongside continuing to develop his solo career. He also appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, where they had fun using Autotune to turn random, boring paragraphs into comical songs: Who knew that the side effects for Claritin could sound so soulful?
23. Sufjan Stevens
Having released nine solo albums on top of numerous collaborations, singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens has certainly made a name for himself with his fascinating blend of baroque pop, indie folk and rock, and electronica styles. He also co-founded his own label, Asthmatic Kitty, with his stepfather, which they then used to release Sufjan’s debut album “A Sun Came” in 2000.
Before making a name for himself as a solo artist, Stefjan played in the band Marzuki and, later on, in the garage band Con Los Dudes. He also contributed his instrumental talents to Danielson Famile, and continues to do so alongside his solo career. His fascinating musical themes include spirituality, outer space, and emotional struggles.
24. Paris Hilton
Paris Whitney Hilton was born into a socialite family in New York City, putting her in the fast lane to fame as a model, singer, media personality, actress, businesswoman, and DJ. Her career first took off with modeling as she and her sister appeared in “Vanity Fair” in 2000. Between her first book, “Confessions of an Heiress” published in 2004 and her self-titled debut album released in 2006, Paris quickly established herself as a woman of versatility.
The song “Stars Are Blind” from the debut album “Paris” went out on over 125 pop music stations in the US and quickly became a global hit. Its reggae fusion sound was well-received to the point where many people said she’d never be able to top the song!
Robyn Rihanna Fenty doesn’t just sing and act: She’s a skilled businesswoman who handles fashion design and cosmetics, too. Rihanna grew up in Barbados but was invited to the United States by record producer Evan Rogers to record demo tapes after he heard her singing with two of her friends. Her early recording sessions were difficult since she was still in school and had to work them into her holidays.
Rihanna’s musical style features a blend of pop, reggae, EDM, and hip-hop. Autotune blends unusually well with her natural voice, enhancing it rather than sounding like a cover-up or safety net. Her song “Disturbia” is one of the tracks that features Autotune more prominently, and it was released on her album “Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded.”
Autotune: The Finishing Touch
For some people, Autotune has gotten a negative reputation–they think that artists use it to cover up the fact that they can’t sing, or simply think that it sounds way overdone no matter how it’s used. However, these 25 iconic singers have embraced Autotune as a tool, either taking advantage of its technical guidance to free up their focus for emotional delivery, or using it as an artistic medium to get expressive with. With or without using Autotune as the finishing touch, they’ve successfully made a huge impact on the music industry–and on the world!