he video: A controversial performance by one of the contestants in the U.K. reality-TV singing contest, "X Factor" has embroiled producer Simon Cowell in an unfolding scandal. Discerning viewers grew suspicious that 18-year-old Gamu Nhengu's rendition of "Walking On Sunshine" (watch below) had been boosted by "Auto-Tune" technology — pitch-perfecting software that Cowell has now reportedly banned from both the British and upcoming American versions of the show. A Facebook protest campaign prompted the show to admit to some post-production Auto-Tune fixes, while insisting that in-studio judges heard the contestants' raw versions. (Read a Time magazine report on the Auto-Tune trend.)
The reaction: "X-Factor"'s use of Auto-Tune is "an act of shameless manipulation that severs a crucial bond of trust between viewer and program," says Luke Lewis in the Guardian. Auto-Tune is not a cheat, says Will Gompertz in the BBC. It's a tool of the music trade, like the electric guitar or the microphone. So, while I don't care whether the "X-Factor" uses it, "I do care if auto-tune is not offered [equally] to all the contestants." Watch Nhengu's suspect performance for yourself:
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