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The [Glee iPhone app] uses a special, gentle version of auto-tune, the recording effect that rounds off your notes to the nearest correct pitch. (Most pop singers today are, in fact, routinely auto-tuned during the recording process.) You’re also given generous reverb and other effects; it’s the high-tech version of singing in the shower.

But the app also somehow multiplies you, duplicates your own vocal line and assigns your clones to other notes. Now you’re singing in lush four-part harmony with yourself, with absolutely zero effort. If you can carry a tune, you can turn off the processing and go it alone.

The result — professional backup band, you processed to sound gorgeous and perfect — is exhilarating, no matter how rotten a singer you are. It’s pop-star fantasy fulfillment for a buck, and everyone who tries it goes nuts. . . .

What both apps teach you along the way is that to sound like a pop star, technical singing talent is not necessarily a prerequisite. (This is especially apparent when, ahem, you isolate Taylor Swift’s vocal track in her app.) With these apps, you now have the same support structure the pros do. You get all the benefits of state-of-the-art vocal processing — and even a taste of the public adoration — that comes with being a star.