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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Artificial intelligence, pop music getting weird, fast

Yes, human content. That’s humans — with all their faults, misgivings, personality flaws, grudges, biases and, you know, humanity — over here, and AI, spit-shined to perfection, over here. The choice seems simple. Which side are you on?

Humans, of course. But have you listened to “Heart on Your Sleeve,” and were you also struck by the fact that it may be — Drake’s complete nonparticipation in the song aside — Drake’s best song in two years?

Drake is one of the artists, along with Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper, to sign exclusive deals for new music with Apple Inc.

Not so easy now, is it? But it begs the question — and we’ll limit the wide-reaching AI debate here strictly to pop-music terms — what do we want from artists? Is it their artistry, their expression, the baring of their soul, which also includes making do with their flaws and imperfections, and the fact that sometimes, because they’re human, they botch Coachella headlining performances? Or do we want to control them, which is what AI allows us to do, in essence: cherry pick their best qualities, use them how we want to use them, and create what we want them to create.

It’s the ultimate idea of fan-service, of wish fulfillment, rendered whole. And it’s not just Drake and The Weeknd to whom it’s happening.

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