The vocoder was invented to improve telecommunications in the 1930s and re-purposed by the military to mask speech among officials during World War II. By the 1980s, artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Zapp began using it as a musical instrument. The sound caught on and has remained one of the most influential movements in music to this day, although Auto-Tune (not included on the list), has mostly replaced it. Writer Dave Tompkins is somewhat of a vocoder historian; the legendary music journalist wrote a book this year, How To Wreck A Nice Beach, chronicling the machine's history. (The book includes a chapter on Talkbox, vocoder's funkier twin sister, which explains its inclusion on parts of the list.) Musicians have been trying to sound like robots for years, and this Tompkins-curated list of The 50 Greatest Vocoder Songs is the ultimate guide to the machine's best moments. Click on to get started...
The 50 Greatest Vocoder Songs
Not all robotic vocals are created equal! Our expert sets the record straight on which vocoder records are best.
Image via Complex Original
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