Artificial Intelligence penned an entire pop music album—and it’s not actually that bad

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      For those who criticize pop music for being manufactured and predictable—you’re in for a treat.

      In the past, it’s taken scores of writers to come up with a decent pop music tune. Six people were on hand to pen Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)”. Six more were necessary for Flo Rida’s “Whistle”. Now, it might not need any at all.

      “Break Free” is the first song from Taryn Southern’s new album. That release that would usually go unreported in the press—but this track is very different from the YouTube star’s previous offerings. This one was created entirely by a computer.

      And, as pop music goes, it’s actually quite good.

      Southern’s album, I AM AI, was created by Amper: an artificially intelligent music composer, producer, and performer. Users select parameters for what type of music will be created—“ambient uplifting cinematic” or “epic driving”, for example—and the program generates a song in seconds using its machine learning algorithm. Humans are then able to manipulate parts of that track—but, as Southern elected to do for “Break Free”, it’s possible to leave all chord structures and instrumentation up to the computer.

      Taryn Southern, "Break Free"

      Unlike other music-making AIs—Orb Composer or JukeDeck, for instance—Amper can create sounds, chords progressions, and beats, and only needs human input to tweak the style or rhythm if necessary. Other pieces of software place a greater emphasis on the individual, and require users to reinterpret the computer’s basic track and rearrange its notation.

      Critics of Amper’s music say that the tracks have no soul, or that anything it produces can only be as good as the programmers that created the algorithm. The company argues that it’s a time-saving tool that lowers the barrier to entry for producers with little to no musical knowledge, and allows people to create tracks without spending thousands of dollars on equipment.

      At any rate, we’re just happy that Amper’s tracks seem to sound better than 2016’s infamous Christmas song—the last high-profile attempt at AI music from the Neural Karaoke team—which singlehandedly ruined the holiday season.

      "Neural Kaeoke Sings Christmas"

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays