As the Autotune fad in the US is reaching a peak it's interesting to compare it to places where it's been running heavily much longer, just to see what the future holds for you guys. One such place is, obviously, Iran.
I've recently been intrigued by the newly put up signs at a nearby gas station for a "Caspian Food Store", thinking it would be full of wondrous South-Russian foodstuffs. Wrong end of the Caspian, unfortunately, since it was the usual Persian fare... But I was struck by the music they played, completely smothered in autotune. A bit of asking around and googling later I found the track: "Ashegh Shodam" by one of the few huge stars in the Persian world apparently still resident in Iran, Benyamin.
Ah, I thought, latched onto the T-Pain bandwagon have we? Well apparently not: the first Iranian track to heavily use autotune came out in 2002!
Apparently the auto-tune effect has been "the de facto style of singing" in Persian pop music for years, gelling well with the generally melismatic style the genre has anyway. (Although some of it goes way beyond that, rebelliously against heavy-handed repression.) And three years later, after the main wave blew over, the effect is still a somewhat common part of the vocabularly. On the Iranian MP3s Blog, at least a quarter of the tracks use audible autotune in some way. Curiously, it seems to have migrated down from the dance remix tracks to the ballads, where most of the manipulated vocals are found. Here are some of the better ones to my tastes:
Mohsen Yahaghi - Tamanna (download from iranianmp3s.com)
Hamid Hashemi & Elina - Raftani (download from iranianmp3s.com)
Morteza Shahryari ft DJ Shadow [I'm guessing not that DJ Shadow] - Mina (download from iranianmp3s.com)
Bonus: the inevitable Reggaeton track. No AT though.