Nick Cave has shared his opinions on AI software such as ChatGPT, particularly his thoughts surrounding its ability (or lack of) to effectively write a song.
ChatGPT is an artificial general intelligence system that can be tasked to create various forms of language, such as grammar corrections, product names, short stories and like in this case, song lyrics. Late last year, we challenged the software to pen Christmas songs in the style of various heavy metal bands (including Slipknot and Iron Maiden), and, we can't lie, we were shocked at how brilliant some of them were.
However, a fan called Mark recently sent Nick Cave a song that was written using the software and programmed to be inspired by his own music, and, unlike us, the singer/songwriter was not pleased at all, not one bit.
In fact, writing about the creation in the January 16 edition of his newsletter (Red Hand Files), Cave branded it "bullshit", as well as a "grotesque mockery of what it is to be human".
As The Guardian reports, the song's lyrics were dark and deeply quasi-religious in theme, similar to Cave's own work. Lyrics from the chorus read: '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'.
Responding to the fan who sent him the lyrics, Cave began by revealing how "dozens" of his fans have already sent him songs made by AI, most of whom were "buzzing with a kind of algorithmic awe".
He continues, “Suffice to say, I do not feel the same enthusiasm around this technology. 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.
"It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction. 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."
Of why he believes AI software such as ChatGPT will always be unable to write real music, he adds: “Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite.
"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 recognises as their known self.
“This is part of the authentic creative struggle that precedes the invention of a unique lyric of actual value; it is the breathless confrontation with one’s vulnerability, one’s perilousness, one’s smallness, pitted against a sense of sudden shocking discovery; it is the redemptive artistic act that stirs the heart of the listener, where the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering.”
Elaborating on his strong feelings towards the issue, Cave, who is currently working on a new album with his band The Bad Seeds, explains: "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. 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.”
Closing his argument, he states: "With all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it — although, hang on!, rereading it, there is a line in there that speaks to me —
‘I’ve got the fire of hell in my eyes’
— says the song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’, and that’s kind of true. I have got the fire of hell in my eyes – and it’s ChatGPT."