Back in 1998 no one had seriously considered the use of Antares' Auto-Tune pitch correction software as a recording "special effect." Reportedly, producer Mark Taylor added the distinctive effects on a lark testing out what Auto-Tune could do. Cher says that when she heard the sound she demanded it be left in the recording. The futuristic effect on her vocals is an integral part of the subsequent record, and "Believe" became the biggest hit of Cher's career. To this day, the distinctive Auto-Tune sound is often referred to as the "Cher effect."
When rapper Kanye West set out to record his album 808s and Heartbreak in the aftermath of the tragic death of his mother, he says that he had emotions to express that couldn't be expressed solely through rapping. Consequently, West sings frequently throughout the album. He uses Auto-Tune liberally, because it gives his voice a "heartbroken" sound. T-Pain was consulted on the proper use of the technology in the recording studio.
The electronic duo Daft Punk had already used vocoder distorted vocals in their worldwide hit "Around the World." They turned to Auto-Tune to alter vocals by singer Romanthony in the recording of "One More Time." The use of the technology was criticized in much of the music industry, but Daft Punk likened the criticisms to those leveled in the early days of the use of synthesizers in pop music.
"Live Your Life" features a dramatic, catchy recreation of the yodel-ish hook of O-Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei" by Rihanna. However, when she shifts into English, the Auto-Tune distortion makes her singing sound almost as exotic as the previous Moldovan lyrics. Later in the song a clear, non-distorted break has extra impact due to the earlier distortion.
Chris Brown is not a singer who would require Auto-Tune to stay on pitch. In fact, the opening of "Forever" is sung without its use. However, the judicious use of Auto-Tune by producer Polow da Don is an essential element in creating the overall gorgeous, sweeping sound of this song.