Imagine reading this headline just a couple of years ago. You would think “there’s no way that’s possible” right?
But in the day and age of pandemics, aliens crash landing into the Earth, and another World War possibly on its way, it really does take a lot to surprise the human population now. Artificial intelligence has officially entered into society, whether you like it or not.
It also seems to be butting its head into the music industry, much to the chagrin of music producers and artists. A song crafted by A.I. that scarily mimicked the rapper Drake’s voice went viral on social media recently, and was shortly after scrubbed from all platforms since Drake did not give permission for his voice to be used.
That’s where things can get a little tricky with artificial intelligence, but when the artist themselves are in control of the A.I. like Paul McCartney is with this new music, it shows just how helpful and revolutionary the technology can be.
McCartney sat down with BBC Radio 4 and discussed the endless possibilities and mounting concerns with artificial intelligence used in concert (accidental pun) with creating music, while also dropping the bombshell that a new Beatles song is on its way:
“All of that is kind of scary, but exciting because it’s the future. And we were able to use that kind of thing when Peter Jackson did the film ‘Get Back,’ where it was us making the Lady P album.
And he (Jackson) was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette. We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine: ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’ So it has great uses.
When we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on and we just finished up. It’ll be released this year. We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we could mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway.”
The clip of the interview can be listened to below:
The cassette that the audio was pulled from was something that Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, gave to McCartney after Lennon’s passing. The demo tape was labeled “For Paul” and included several different songs that were recorded in 1980, shortly before his death.
As for what the name of the new song will be, many have speculated that the tune will be a song called “Now and Then,” which at one point was released as a demo (which is linked below).
It is reported that the surviving members of The Beatles tried to utilize the recordings from Lennon posthumously, but George Harrison said that the sound quality of John’s recorded vocals were not good enough to work around.
Now that artificial intelligence has “entered the chat” (ChatGPT joke?), the technology is filling the gap and allowing the quality to match industry standards. If the Beatles can pull this off, think about all of the unused recordings from artists who have passed on that could be enhanced and released?
That is where those within the music industry will have to decide where a line has to be drawn, but if surviving artists like McCartney are willing to do it, we might see an influx of old bands releasing some new, possibly chart topping songs.
Like McCartney said, it’s all scary, but exciting.
If the speculation turns out to be true, we could be hearing a song close to this with added levels of instruments and vocals surrounding what John Lennon left behind. This demo of “Now and Then” could be the foundation for the new Beatles song, brought to you by artificial intelligence: