Pop Culture

A ‘new’ Beatles song is coming, with a little help from AI

Thanks to the help of artificial intelligence, the Beatles are (kind of) getting back together.

Paul McCartney told the BBC Tuesday that a new Beatles song is set to be released this year, and it will feature John Lennon’s voice.

“When we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on,” McCartney explained to Radio 4’s Martha Kearney. “We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI so that then we could mix the record as you would normally do — it gives you some sort of leeway.”

According to the outlet, McCartney was given one of Lennon’s demos by his widow Yoko Ono. It was recorded on a cassette labelled “For Paul,” which was reportedly recorded not long before his death.

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McCartney said that when director Peter Jackson was making his 2021 docuseries, The Beatles: Get Back, the production team was able to separate Lennon’s voice from the background using AI technology.

Click to play video: 'Documentary ‘Get Back’ makes new revelations about The Beatles'

Documentary ‘Get Back’ makes new revelations about The Beatles

Jackson was “able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette and a piano,” McCartney said. “He could separate them with AI. He’d tell the machine, ‘That’s a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar.’”

The same technology enabled McCartney to “duet” virtually with Lennon, who was shot to death in 1980 in New York City, on I’ve Got a Feeling last year at the Glastonbury Festival.

McCartney did not name the new song, but it is likely to be a 1978 Lennon composition called Now and Then, which was included on the demo cassette.

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According to the BBC, the band previously attempted to record Now and Then, but McCartney said George Harrison refused to work on it because the sound quality was “f—ing rubbish.”

“It didn’t have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking, but it had a beautiful verse and it had John singing it,” he told Q Magazine.

“(But) George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”

However, McCartney has expressed his desire to finish the song in the years since.

The use of AI in music (and in general) has caused much controversy in recent years, as it’s now possible to use the technology to mimic voices and song styles. According to The Guardian, streaming services are constantly scrubbing music from their sites that imitate artists like Drake, Kanye West and the Weeknd.

McCartney described AI technology as “kind of scary but exciting,” adding: “We will just have to see where that leads.”

— With a file from The Associated Press


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