Paul McCartney reveals AI has helped make The Beatles' 'last' song

The Beatles
The Beatles / Avalon/GettyImages

As the debate about AI and its impact on music and artists continues, Paul McCartney revealed there will be a new Beatles song this year using the technology. The use of AI for the release comes with official Beatles blessing and approval.

The idea came from the amazing 2021 Get Back documentary directed by Peter Jackson. That had great reviews for the way the filming of Beatles recording sessions from 1969 had been reworked and enhanced into vibrant and clear color. The sound received many plaudits, too, for its clarity. McCartney explained on BBC Radio how Jackson’s team used AI to separate musical instruments from vocals and rework the audio. 

"He [Jackson] was able to extricate John's voice from a ropey little bit of cassette."

"We had John's voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, 'That's the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar’."

McCartney also spoke about taking that same AI approach to help create a new Beatles song. Referring to it as their final record, he expects it to be released later in 2023. 

"So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles' record, it was a demo that John had [and] we were able to take John's voice and get it pure through this AI."

"Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway."

The new Beatles record with AI

There is speculation about which song it will be. McCartney didn't go as far as naming the record when talking about the upcoming release. The BBC reckons it is very likely to be "Now And Then," a John Lennon song from 1978, which has been close to being reworked a few times already.

It was nearly included in The Beatles Anthology, the band's multimedia project, which had two singles, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love." Former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne produced those two tracks and worked on “Now And Then,” too. It wasn’t complete or ready enough as a song to release then.

McCartney has spoken previously about his desire to complete and finish that song. It sounds as though Jackson's documentary and use of AI has been the breakthrough in showing how it can be done. 

McCartney is also very aware that others are using AI to rework Beatles music and has mixed views on it. 

"I'm not on the internet that much [but] people will say to me, 'Oh, yeah, there's a track where John's singing one of my songs', and it's just AI, you know?"

"It's kind of scary but exciting, because it's the future. We'll just have to see where that leads."

That’s a similar view to many others, with his wariness not unusual. Perhaps we’ll draw some confidence in the benefits of AI to music and artists when we hear the new Beatles song reworked and released later this year. A new track from the Fab Four has got to be worth a listen, AI or otherwise.

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