During an interview with the BBC, legendary Beatles singer-songwriter Paul McCartney disclosed that artificial intelligence (AI) was utilized to extract and enhance the vocals of his former bandmate, John Lennon, from an old recording. This breakthrough allowed Lennon’s voice to feature in an upcoming track.
McCartney, when asked about AI during the BBC’s “Today” program, expressed his fascination with the technology, stating, “It’s a very interesting thing, you know. It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment and trying to deal with.”
According to McCartney, “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, who recently released the documentary “The Beatles: Get Back,” which showcased colorized and restored archival footage of the band, successfully extracted Lennon’s voice from a deteriorated cassette recording using AI. The technology distinguished Lennon’s vocals from instrumental and background interference.
He further explained, “So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on, and we just finished it up. It will be released this year. 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.”
The BBC reported that the upcoming track, expected to be a 1978 Lennon song called “Now And Then,” is one that McCartney has previously expressed a desire to complete. The song will feature Lennon’s restored vocals, preserving his legacy. Lennon tragically passed away in 1980.
During his recent tour, which included a headline performance at the Glastonbury festival, McCartney performed songs with a cleaned-up Lennon vocal track, accompanied by a video of the artist on stage with him.
The application of AI in music production has sparked discussions among industry experts regarding the potential of technological advancements and the ethics surrounding posthumous recreations of artists. ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, whose show “ABBA Voyage” employs motion capture and advanced real-time graphics to showcase the band as de-aged digital avatars, previously expressed concerns about the creation of “deep fakes.”
McCartney acknowledged both the positive and concerning aspects of AI, stating, “There’s a good side to it and then a scary side, and we’ll just have to see where that leads.” As the music industry continues to explore the possibilities offered by AI, the delicate balance between honoring an artist’s legacy and embracing technological innovation will remain a topic of contemplation.
By Impact Lab