Paul McCartney clarifies the use of artificial intelligence in The Beatles’ new song after it caused quite a stir on social media.
Last week, the singer-songwriter announced in a BBC radio interview that the British supergroup would release a song this year and use AI to add the voice of the late John Lennon to the song. But since the technology is at the center of many ethical debates, some fans took to social media to question its use.
After seeing “some confusion and speculation,” McCartney decided to share his thoughts, writing on Twitter on Thursday, “It seems like a lot of guesswork out there. I can’t say too much at this stage, but to be clear, there’s nothing artificial or created synthetically. It’s all real and we’re all playing on it. We’ve cleaned up some existing recordings – a process that’s been going on for years.”
The singer also added: “It was great to see such an exciting response to our upcoming Beatles project. No one is more excited than we are to share something with you later in the year. … We hope you love it as much as we do. More news coming soon.”
McCartney’s initial announcement last week described how the new song came about and what inspired them to finish it.
“When we came in to make what would be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had,” McCartney explained during the interview. “We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record like you normally would.”
It was then the 2021 Beatles documentary Come backdirected by Peter Jackson, who pushed them to actually finish the song, as McCartney said Jackson was “able to extract John’s voice from a pitiful little piece of cassette.”
“We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI,” he added. “They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’”
The CEO and president of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., also recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about which part of an AI-produced song would be eligible for a Grammy Award. When asked specifically about The Beatles’ upcoming song, he said, “I’m not exactly sure how this song is going to sound, like you said, we haven’t heard it, but if they use an old John Lennon vocal, or it using voice modeling to replicate a John Lennon voice, that would be a performance consideration.
He continued, “And as long as there were other performances and other people involved in that performance for more than the “de minimis” amount, it would be eligible for a Grammy. When you’re talking about a composition, if the other members of The Beatles had written the song and it was submitted and there was more than “de minimis” human creation, then yes, we’d be willing to consider it for a Grammy.”
A release date for the group’s new song has not been set at this time.