Sing like you're winning

Published May 18, 2011

Last night, on something of a whim, I downloaded the Glee app for the iPad. Don’t stop reading yet! Regardless of what you think of Glee, it’s making some incredible changes in engaging people with music.

Glee app

The app itself is pretty clever, and a genius money-spinner at the same time. You pick a song (a couple are free but most cost about £1), it comes up with karaoke style lyrics, and you record yourself singing it.

There’s the option to have autotune on or off, depending on how you feel about it. The app will also create some rather hideous but sometimes fun harmonies to go with your beautiful singing.

If you hit the right note, the arrow will burst into a shower of stars, which gain you points, which help you level up.

You can record as many times as you like, the app will save your work and then you can broadcast it to the world, if you think it’s good enough for other people to hear. This bit is slightly terrifying, because people can judge your work, but it also allows for singing with other people, and jamming across the globe.

Glee app

All a little tacky and playful, but this must be the precursor to something brilliant developments.

After demonstrating the app to Mr C, we started discussing the possibilities. I said it would be great beamed over to the TV (although the app is stubborn and frustratingly stuck in portrait mode), and even better if you could have an external mic so you could sing along as though you were on Top of the Pops.

Step back, hairbrush and mirror, you have been retired. It’s iPad and microphone from here on out. There is a mic specifically for the iPad from Apogee Digital.

That set me thinking about Rockband and Guitar Hero and those types of games. The criticism of them has always been that people are playing on those silly little clacky toy guitars and sacrificing learning about real instruments to become genius Rockband gods instead.

Glee app

What if you can plug in a real guitar, and get the game to match up with real notes, the same way this singing app does. That helps you to learn a real instrument and sounds pretty fun at the same time.

This app is not perfect. The songs available are only ones sung on Glee, although you can select songs from your iTunes library too - if you prefer the backing of the real track, or have some karaoke tunes in a playlist somewhere. They’re all the Glee version, too, so my attempt at I’ll Stand By You went wrong several times because it wasn’t quite how I remembered the original song being.

It’s addictive though. Trying to hit the right notes, hearing yourself back, where you can do better, all your favourite songs. If this was adapted for a piano or a guitar, I think we’d all be facing a far more musical future. Forgive the repetition but love or hate Glee, it’s certainly doing a great job at bringing music - both listening and creation of - to a wider audience.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try my hand at Gold Digger. I can pull off rap, right?

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