The Beatles Legends. The recent buzz about a supposed ‘final’ Beatles track and the rise of tech like AI voices and holograms in the music scene have sparked a hot debate. Should we really bring back singers from the dead? Arwa Haider dives into the discussion.
Tech Wizards and Posthumous Music
Back in ’99, Bowie mused about the digital age, calling it an “alien life form.” Fast-forward a few years after his passing, and his words seem oddly fitting. The music world’s still in a whirl, connecting realms with tech, and maybe even reviving the voices of artists long gone.
Now, there’s this whole deal with AI music, where they recreate voices of current stars (like that AI ‘fake Drake’ track) or even legends who’ve passed on (hello, AI Bowie and digital duets with Freddie Mercury). But here’s the twist—there’s also tech that revives actual recordings by a singer when they were alive. Take The Beatles‘ “final song,” ‘Now and Then,’ a tune John Lennon started in ’78, and the gang wrapped up last year.
The Beatles’ Return and Tech Magic
This isn’t the first time The Beatles dropped a ‘new’ track after their split or Lennon’s passing. Remember ‘Free as a Bird’ in ’95 with Lennon’s fuzzy vocals? Well, tech has come a long way since then. Thanks to wizardry like voice-detecting tech used by Peter Jackson, they plucked Lennon’s voice from a “ropey” old cassette. Paul McCartney spilled the beans on Radio 4, revealing how they separated John’s voice from other noise using AI.
So, this ‘last’ Beatles track? It’s based on John’s old demo, where they pulled his voice out clean as a whistle using AI.
Posthumous Music: The What and Why
But why the hype around music from artists who’ve left us? Well, fans love hearing anything new from their favorite singers, and it gets even juicier when they’re no longer around. The emotional tug, mixed with the thrill of ‘reuniting’ Lennon with McCartney (like that virtual duet at Glastonbury) or holograms hitting the stage, glitches and all, gets us all buzzing. But let’s not kid ourselves—money plays a part too. Posthumous releases rake in cash. Kurt Cobain’s legacy is proof, bringing in millions even after his passing.
The Ethics of Resurrecting Voices
But here’s the kicker—should we really bring back singers from the dead? Most artists have their own creative ideals, and once they’re gone, we can only guess what they’d want. ‘Deepfake’ tracks make it seem like singers can be molded into anything the industry fancies, even turning into viral gimmicks and “raves beyond the grave.” And it’s not just Western stars—folks worldwide have had their voices digitally remixed, but let’s be real, most ‘deepfake’ music sounds like a robot’s take on a ’90s TV show.
Navigating the Moral Grounds
Sure, we all love a hit of nostalgia, but sometimes these posthumous projects veer into what I call the “ick factor.” Think Barry Manilow’s album where he crooned alongside recordings of Judy Garland and Whitney Houston—a bit too sentimental for comfort, huh?
Despite the hype, some artists have drawn a line. Anderson .Paak even had a message inked on his arm—no posthumous releases under his name once he’s gone. And even though Amy Winehouse’s estate gave the green light for a posthumous album, they later destroyed her demos out of respect, steering clear of any future releases without her consent.
The Human Touch in Reviving Legends
But the most heartfelt posthumous projects? They’re usually driven by folks who knew and loved the artists. The recent Sparklehorse album, finished by Mark Linkous’s family after his tragic death in 2010, is a prime example. Then there’s ‘The Endless Coloured Ways’ album, centered on Nick Drake’s songs and supported by his estate manager and industry bigwigs, adding a personal touch to his legacy.
So, where’s the line between honoring a musician’s work and cashing in on their name? As tech keeps pushing boundaries, it’s up to us listeners—does it feel real and engaging, or does it seem too fake and forced? Either way, it’s a brave new world out there in the music biz.