There has been no end of discussion and controversy over ChatGPT of late. It’s an AI system that can be used to create language in a ‘human’ way, and has been used to produce everything from product names to university theses, and now song lyrics. It’s capable of working in the style of other writers which it can access for ‘inspiration’ and has been surprisingly effective at doing so.
Mark, a fan of the Australian musician Nick Cave, decided to test the software by challenging it to write a song that wouldn’t be out of place within the perpetually melancholic singer’s catalogue. He sent the resulting piece to Mr Cave for appraisal, and the artist was not at all pleased. Cave wrote in his January newsletter, Red Hand Files, that ChatGPT was “bullshit” and “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”.
According to The Guardian, in Cave’s reply to Mark he stated that “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.”
AI can never replace humans
Unsurprisingly given the references used, the song contained some pretty dark and religious imagery. 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 saviour’. Pretty simplistic but absolutely believable as a Nick Cave song. However the singer has no fears about being replaced by ChatGPT. He stated that “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”, lines that would surely be great in a Nick Cave song.
Cave is currently hard at work on a new album with his band The Bad Seeds, so it’s understandable that he’s feeling extra tetchy about the possibility of AI superseding him. He went on to say “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.”
In short, Cave wasn’t impressed. He did have one last thing to add about the ChatGPT creation though: “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.”