Why does a bunch of EDM have random squeaky baby noises in it?


I’d been pretty preoccupied with putting together a new computer, which would have been top of the line a few years ago since I’m not bothering tracking down an elusive raytracing machine while they’re largely non-existent or being used to harvest weird coins, with the hope of being able to run a fair bit of VR on it. It’s passed the benchmarks I’ve thrown at it at least. While I wait around and play “flat” games, as VR enthusiasts apparently call them, at high performance on it, I was reminded of EDM continuing to be a thing. I do like some EDM songs, but I have a distaste for certain kinds of songs that emerge from it, and of course the kinds of songs I find I like the least keep ending up on pop charts and those styles remain popular. Again, not saying that anything popular on the charts is something I don’t like, it’s just a disconnect with the popular crowd, I guess. I feel like droning background noise isn’t really meant to be used as a song to be listened to directly as well, and the D in EDM wouldn’t mean to dance in that case.

Across EDM in general, though, I’ve noticed that they’ll just randomly throw in clips of vocals or synthesized vocal-like sounds that are all high pitched and brief and might not entirely fit with the rest of the song. I’ve just been calling these “baby noises” because I don’t know if there’s a proper term for it. All of my searching has been coming up empty as to why they’re showing up, though. Maybe knowing the actual term might help, but finding that has also been difficult. On top of that, sometimes the vocals are just sped up and pitched up for reasons I’m not sure of as well. It just makes the song sound funny to me. If it’s meant to be taken seriously as an art form, it’s kind of like putting works related to toilets, or that are just toilets, in a high-class-type art gallery. I can appreciate some level of being weird for the sake of being weird, but I’ll find it more funny than considering it some kind of artistic dialogue.

Before the Internet, and when more people listened to records on multi-speed players outside of retro enthusiasts and older people, there was this phenomenon that could be called “chipmunking” where playing the record at a higher speed would emulate the process used when recording voices for Alvin and the Chipmunks. Likewise, slowing down existing Chipmunks recordings provides some interesting results. Now it seems to be called nightcore, which I’m still not sure how real of a genre it is.

From all the examples I’ve found, it doesn’t seem to really transform the work aside from playing it at 150% speed and pitch, or higher, with some anime background. If there’s just even a bit more effort put into one of those modifications, it could be considered a transformed work, and hopefully more of one than just layering some drum track over the existing sped up thing. Then I’d consider it a remix, probably. I don’t know if songs have been made directly originally into the nightcore format, but someone has to have tried it, and I don’t mean just claiming that happy hardcore would be nightcore.

On the other side of the speed, there’s vaporwave, and the “chopped and screwed” style as well, which not only slows down existing tracks, but applies some remixing to the song itself, even if it’s just cutting the song into skips or loops. On average, it seems like more is done to a vaporwave version than a nightcore one. Depending on what specifcally the song is filed under, any video would likely feature a background of ancient busts and pink and orange computer graphics, or a lot of purple and possibly cars with a lot of embellishments.

Generally, messing with vocal sample speed arbitrarily seems to be a key to both electronic genres as well as aspects of hip-hop and its related genres, like I guess trap would be a major current one. And then trap gets rolled back into EDM and you end up with some song that’s a trap song sped and pitched up with some added beat like what keeps appearing on the pop radio. I still have no idea why it keeps happening, though, and I’m not sure if I can find an answer that isn’t just one I’ve made up claiming that they do it because it’s funny.

I’m no music expert, and I can’t exactly say I’m looking forward to reviewing the Billboard year-end for this year, but I’ll at least get that one done. And before or after that, whenever Spotify gets around to it, I’d much more like to review my computer-generated year-end for that service. I already know it’s going to have better songs on average, even if it picks crusty versions I may not have actually listened to for no real reason. That’s recommendation algorithms for you.