You probably knew this day was coming: A computer has made a pop song.
No, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber (or the people who secretly write much of the stars' music) shouldn't fear for their jobs just yet. But in a world in which Rebecca Black's "Friday" can rack up 100 million plays on YouTube, the artificial-intelligence-composed track weighs in somewhere between "not terrible" and "surprisingly decent."
The song is the product of Flow Machines, a project from Sony's Paris-based Computer Science Laboratory to create music using artificial intelligence. According to Flow Machines' website, its AI analyzes a large database of 13,000 music samples, then gets programmed to compose a song in a certain style. In the case of the first track released, "Daddy's Car," the system was told to create music in the style of the Beatles.
The result does have a soothing, poppy Beatles quality. It's also very human, and very much a product of 2016; several commenters on the song's YouTube page have compared the sound to modern day (human) electro-indie group Tame Impala.
Upon first listen, the only part of the track that elicits a cringe is the banal set of lyrics. "Every day I go to work downtown / I'm drowning in the traffic jam" ... and then later: "Please mother drive me again in your car / There's nothing here, nothing there and everywhere." Oof. Ironically, the lyrics are the product of a human mind--they were written by a French composer.
To be sure, artificial intelligence won't be replacing human musicians any time soon. In addition to the words, a person had to do the arranging for "Daddy's Car." But the fact that AI can come close to creating a piece of art that's indistinguishable from something made by people is pretty remarkable.
It's not the first time computers have produced tunes for human ears. Sony has experimented with AI-composed jazz music. And startup Brain.fm uses AI bots to produce tracks meant to soothe listeners or help them focus. In fact, the U.S. Olympic wrestling team used Brain.fm to prepare for this year's games in Rio.
Listen to the track below. And stay tuned: According to Quartz, Sony wants to release a full AI-composed album next year.