'X Factor' admits using Auto-Tune in the U.K.

simon-cowell-business-innovation-gi-320.jpg Simon Cowell's singing competition "The X Factor" has angered U.K. fans by tweaking contestants' vocals in the show's season premiere.

The seventh season of the competition premiered to a huge audience -- 11.1 million viewers -- on ITV1 Saturday night (Aug. 21). But soon after, it was logging hundreds of complaints from peeved viewers who claim they noticed some auditioners' vocals being sweetened on the show. The show has acknowledged using Auto-Tune for audition rounds. The show says it's done in the name of good TV and doesn't affect judging.

"The judges make their decisions at the auditions stage based on what they hear on the day, live in the arena," the spokesman tells the BBC. "The footage and sound is then edited and dubbed into a finished program, to deliver the most entertaining experience possible for viewers. When it gets to the live shows, it will be all live."

Cowell -- who created the series and is bringing an American version to FOX next year -- has reportedly banned Auto-Tune and other vocal-enhancing software from future shows. But there are also reports that sweetening has been used in the past, including on live shows.

The Mirror quotes a "former member of the 'X Factor' production teams" as saying the use of Auto-Tune was an "open secret" on the show. "It has been used for a long time on the show, both for the auditions and the live shows," the source says, although the Mirror's story doesn't cite any specific examples.

As to why, the source says, "The problem is that you have got a lot of contestants who sound equally good, so how do viewers at home make a judgment on who to pick? So Auto-Tune has been used to make good singers sound even better and not so good singers sound much worse."

Among the performances fans have flagged from Saturday's "X Factor" is Gamu Nhengu, an 18-year-old who earned a spot in the next round. Here's her version of "Walkin' on Sunshine" -- tell us what you think.



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