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Resurrecting the Sound: The Beatles' 'Final' Record Sparks Debate on Bringing Singers Back from the Dead

"Reviving Legends: The Beatles' 'Final' Record Raises Ethical Questions in the Era of AI Voices"

As news surfaces about The Beatles' purported 'final' record and the advancements in AI voices, holograms, and posthumous performances like "raves beyond the grave," the question of ethical boundaries comes to the forefront. Arwa Haider contemplates where we should draw the line in this intersection of technology and art.

David Bowie's 1999 musings on the potential cataclysm of the digital age now feel eerily prescient, especially in the current era where technology blurs the lines between reality and simulation. With AI-generated vocal sounds, commonly known as "deepfake" music, the industry witnesses the recreation of contemporary stars' styles or even the revival of voices silenced by time. AI music extends beyond imitation, encompassing the restoration of recordings made by singers in their lifetime, exemplified by The Beatles' recent release, "Now and Then."

While the digital era has allowed for remarkable feats, such as extracting John Lennon's voice from a decades-old cassette tape for The Beatles' latest track, ethical considerations loom large. The process involves using AI to isolate individual voices and instruments, a technique showcased in the Peter Jackson-directed documentary series, "Get Back" (2021). Paul McCartney, in a recent Radio 4 interview, shed light on the technology's ability to purify Lennon's voice from a rough recording, emphasizing the potential of AI in the creation of what could be the last Beatles' record.

As technology continues to blur the lines between the living and the departed in the realm of music, the debate intensifies over the ethical implications of resurrecting voices, creating new works, and navigating the fine line between homage and exploitation. The allure of the familiar clashes with the ethical dilemma of manipulating the artistic legacies of iconic figures, posing challenging questions for the evolving landscape of music in the digital age."

"The Echoes of the Departed: Navigating the Complex Landscape of AI-Generated Posthumous Music"

As machine-learning software advances, the allure of posthumous expressions in the music industry grows, fueled by a mix of emotional resonance, novelty, and commercial interests. The desire to hear new works from beloved artists, especially those who have passed away, taps into a profound emotional connection for music enthusiasts. The novelty factor intensifies when iconic figures like Lennon seemingly reunite with fellow musicians, whether through virtual duets or holographic performances with notable glitches.

Commercial corporations are capitalizing on the revenue potential of artist legacies, turning posthumous releases into a lucrative business. However, a moral dilemma persists in resurrecting singers through AI-generated tracks, as the creative ideals of artists remain subjective and open to interpretation. The "deepfake" trend, while offering seemingly endless possibilities for industry whims and viral gimmicks, raises concerns about the authenticity and integrity of these posthumous projects.

The AI-generated craze extends beyond Western stars, encompassing international figures like South Korean folk hero Kim Kwang-seok and Israeli singer Ofra Haza. Yet, the prevailing sentiment is that much of the "deepfake" music sounds sterile, lacking the authenticity of the original artists. Nostalgia, a powerful force in music, is accompanied by an "ick factor" in many posthumous projects, epitomized by instances like Barry Manilow's 2014 album, My Dream Duets, where he sang alongside recordings of deceased icons like Judy Garland and Whitney Houston.

Despite the ethical debates surrounding the use of AI in music, some contemporary vocalist/producers, including Grimes and Holly Herndon, have embraced "deepfake" technology as a creative tool. However, even these trailblazers acknowledge the need to navigate the murky waters of global laws concerning AI and intellectual property. As the music industry grapples with the potential and pitfalls of AI-generated posthumous music, the conversation surrounding the ethical boundaries of artistic expression continues to evolve."

"Artistic Conundrum: Exploring the Nexus of AI and Posthumous Music Through the Eyes of Jungle's J Lloyd"

J Lloyd, co-founder and frontman of Jungle, a band renowned for delving into classic soul and funk styles, grapples with a mix of excitement and unease when contemplating the AI possibilities of collaborating with vocalists who have passed away. As artists, the prospect of future generations experiencing their music through AI sparks both curiosity and concern. The question looms: Will technological advancements overshadow the human touch and emotional resonance that define their music?

Some artists, like Anderson .Paak, have taken emphatic stands against posthumous projects, even tattooing a part of his will on his arm, explicitly forbidding the release of any such albums or songs with his name attached after his passing. Amy Winehouse's estate, while approving the posthumous collection Lioness – Hidden Treasures (2011), made a moral decision to destroy her vocal demos to prevent future releases that she couldn't have consented to.

The sensitivity with which posthumous releases are handled often stems from those who genuinely knew and loved the artists. The recent Sparklehorse album, released in September, saw Mark Linkous's younger brother and sister-in-law completing the work they started before his tragic death in 2010. Another example is the July-released album The Endless Coloured Ways, centered on the songs of Nick Drake, featuring reinterpretations by artists like Emeli Sandé and John Grant. Overseen by Cally Calomon, manager of the Nick Drake estate, and Jeremy Lascelles, co-founder of Blue Raincoat Music and CEO of Chrysalis, the project embodies a distinctly human touch.

In discussing the fusion of technology and art, Calomon challenges the notion of AI-generated intelligence as 'artificial,' asserting that all art is artifice, and no intelligence, regardless of its origin, can be deemed 'artificial.' It's a reflection on the evolving landscape of music creation and the intricate balance between technology and the human essence in artistic expression."

"Navigating the Technological Wave: The Intersection of AI and Posthumous Music Evaluated by Industry Experts"

Jeremy Lascelles, co-founder of Blue Raincoat Music and CEO of Chrysalis, offers a nuanced perspective on the evolving landscape of music creation where AI stands as the latest technological advancement. In the ever-changing realm of music, technological disruptions bring both threats and vast opportunities. Lascelles draws parallels to the age-old tradition of artists drawing inspiration from their peers, emphasizing that the success of posthumous recordings revived through modern technology ultimately rests with the listener's judgment.

Lascelles highlights the critical question: Does the music sound emotionally engaging and authentic, or does it come across as fake and contrived? In the case of The Endless Coloured Ways, artists were encouraged to reinvent Nick Drake's songs in their unique styles, steering away from copying his original recordings. The results, according to Lascelles, are nothing short of spectacular, emphasizing that no modern piece of technology was mistreated or harmed in the process.

As the music industry continues to embrace technological innovations, the evaluation of authenticity and emotional resonance remains at the forefront. The delicate balance between leveraging advancements and preserving the essence of artistic expression relies on the thoughtful judgment of the listeners.

( This article was originally published in June 2023.)

"In conclusion, the confluence of AI and posthumous music production emerges as a complex yet fascinating terrain. The insights shared by industry experts, including J Lloyd and Jeremy Lascelles, shed light on the dual nature of technological advancements—a realm filled with both threats and tremendous opportunities. The artistic process, whether influenced by AI or traditional means, ultimately faces the ultimate judgment of the listener. Authenticity and emotional engagement become the guiding principles, challenging artists to navigate the fine line between innovation and the preservation of the human touch in musical expression.

The case of The Endless Coloured Ways exemplifies a thoughtful approach, encouraging artists to reinterpret Nick Drake's songs in their unique styles, avoiding mere replication. The results, deemed spectacular by Lascelles, underscore the potential for harmonious collaboration between human creativity and technological innovation. As the music industry continues its dynamic evolution, the delicate equilibrium between embracing progress and preserving the soul of artistry remains a central theme, resonating in the hearts and ears of discerning listeners."

( This article was originally published in June 2023.)