Take a listen to a Beatles song that features an AI John Lennon

  • The Beatles have released what is probably their final collaborative effort in the form of a song titled Now and Then.
  • The song uses machine learning to incorporate the vocals of John Lennon, who recorded an eponymously named demo in the mid 70s.
  • The track is garnering mixed reactions, but is available to listen to on most major platforms.

If you are a Beatles fan you’re likely quite torn at the moment, as the two remaining members of the group have been joined posthumously by George Harrison and John Lennon and a newly released song titled Now and Then.

The audio for the song was released earlier this week, and a YouTube video for the track has been embedded below.

What makes the song contentious, in our view at least, is the fact that machine learning was used to add the vocal talents of John Lennon in particular, who recorded a demo version of Then and Now in 1977 before his untimely death.

As The Verge points out, the addition of Lennon’s voice is the result of new technology that director Peter Jackson and his team developed while producing the Beatles documentary Get Back. The technology in question utilised machine learning that was essentially able to take any song and split it into its requisite components.

From there, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr thought it presented them with a unique opportunity to collaborate with the departed band members one more time.

As such, Now and Then serves as the latest and more than likely last song that The Beatles have recorded. Naturally it has garnered plenty of interest, with the official audio racking up more than five million views in less than 24 hours, at the time of writing.

The song is also streamable on other platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, with the latter featuring a 2023 remastered mix of Love Me Do too.

Whether the technology used to create Now and Then will be employed again for future Beatles songs remains to be seen, but given that it uses machine learning to separate the different elements of a track, the possibility is certainly there.

For a group that has been famously litigious in past decades, it is interesting to see that they used the posthumous demo of Lennon to create this song.

If you’re wondering what the original demo sounds like, we highly recommend listening to it here.

It is also advisable to check out the 12-minute long short film published this week before the Now and Then audio, which details how this entire project came to fruition, starting all the way back in 1995.

Whether fans will react positively or negatively to the new work is unclear for now, but what is certain, is the impact that technology and in particular machine learning and AI is having on the music industry of late.


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