Dutch AI is coming for the Billboard charts

Eurovision is canceled, so a Dutch broadcaster organized a contest for algorithmically generated bangers

May 13, 2020

Want to feel old? The hottest new musical genre is Eurovision Technofear — and it’s brought to you by an unholy mix of ABBA, algorithms, and Reddit threads.

Eurovision — the global song competition that gave rise to Celine Dion — was canceled this year for the first time since 1956. So a Dutch broadcaster organized a contest for algorithmically generated bangers called the “AI Song Contest.” It got weird.

Spotify mood playlists can’t top koala synth 

A team of Dutch academics — Can AI Kick It — fed its AI models 250 Eurovision classics, plus a sampling of Reddit posts to generate the lyrics.

The result? Anarchy. The AI cobbled together a pop song that the Dutch team called “atonal and creepy” and that featured such gems as “kill the government, kill the system.”

Meanwhile, an AI entry from Australia produced a chorus peppered with koala and kookaburra sounds — a genre the team took to calling “koala synth.” And late Tuesday afternoon, the global public crowned “koala synth” the winner.

DJs aren’t shaking in their booths yet

Plenty of people are hyping AI-produced music, but the tech still isn’t quite… there. Anyone who has made the mistake of streaming one of virtual influencer Lil Miquela’s deluge of singles knows that AI still lacks the lyricist’s gene.

A Sony algorithm in 2016 spit out a song called “Daddy’s Car,” with memorable lines like “In daddy’s car, it sounds so good / like something new, it turns me on.”

To the credit of the Eurovision engineers, they’re standing behind their creations. The Dutch team did enter its anti-government screed into the AI Song Contest — but one student on the team told Ars Technica, “We do not condone these lyrics!”

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