Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave was not impressed when an artificial intelligence program tried to mimic the style of his music with a computer-generated song.
The frontman of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds didn’t mince words upon hearing the effort put forth by popular chatbot software ChatGPT. Though the song was allegedly “written in the style of Nick Cave,” the alt-rock musician disagreed that AI can replicate true musical talent.
Cave shared his opinions on the subject in his newsletter The Red Hand Files while responding to the New Zealand fan who originally sent the song. The singer said this wasn’t the first time he’d listened to computer-generated music.
“Suffice to say, I do not feel the same enthusiasm around this technology,” Cave wrote in the newsletter. “I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster.”
The 65-year-old Aussie said he believes this type of technology can be dangerous.
“It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction,” he went on. “Who can possibly say which? Judging by this song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ though, it doesn’t look good, Mark. The apocalypse is well on its way. This song sucks.”
“Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite,” Cave went on. “It is an act of self-murder that destroys all one has strived to produce in the past. It is those dangerous, heart-stopping departures that catapult the artist beyond the limits of what he or she recognizes as their known self.”
He went on to say that songwriting is part of an “authentic creative struggle” that “stirs the heart of the listener” to understand deeper truths. The “Red Right Hand” singer further asserted that “the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering.”
“It may sound like I’m taking all this a little too personally, but I’m a songwriter who is engaged, at this very moment, in the process of songwriting,” he wrote. “It’s a blood and guts business, here at my desk, that requires something of me to initiate the new and fresh idea. It requires my humanness.”
Cave concluded by thanking the fan for sending in the song but ultimately concluding that the AI failed to replicate his music.
“With all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullsh**, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it,” he wrote.
The song created by AI included the chorus: “I am the sinner, I am the saint / I am the darkness, I am the light / I am the hunter, I am the prey / I am the devil, I am the savior.”