AI-generated music is a burgeoning and fraught subject, with artists vocally resisting even the slightest hint of it, or some (like Grimes) more or less fully embracing it. Now Paul McCartney seems to be on the ‘pro’ train, at least in part, as he’s created a ‘new’ Beatles song using AI and will be releasing it to the public later this year.
The song features John Lennon vocals, taken from an old demo recording, and the BBC report first revealed the news says it’s likely from “Now and Then,” a 1978 recording of Lennon that was taped from Lennon’s living room in NYC just before his death. The inspiration for the song came from Peter Jackson’s documentary ‘Get Back’, McCartney told the BBC, because that process used a custom AI system to separate the vocals of the various Beatles members from background noise, allowing reproduction high quality became possible.
There was an earlier attempt to record this song with the surviving Beatles around 1995, but George Harrison objected midway through the process due to the poor quality of Lennon’s song. The AI-powered process of separating and cleaning tracks restored the vocals to a place where McCartney said it was possible to mix the track cleanly as if they had been freshly recorded for the purpose.
McCartney still showed some skepticism – but not outright rejection – when it came to AI generating music intended to sound like original John Lennon recordings, essentially from whole fabric – “it’s kind of scary but exciting, because it the future is,” he told the BBC of when people have shown him versions of Lennon singing his songs generated by AI.
“We’ll just have to see where that leads,” he added.