The 'Last' Beatles Song: 'Now and Then' Used AI Technology to Isolate John Lennon's Voice on '70s Recording

The surviving members of The Beatles have announced their so-called final song “Now and Then” is set to be released November 2. But the lead-up is being overshadowed by their decision to use artificial intelligence technology to provide the late John Lennon’s voice — though not through “generative” AI.

“Now and Then” will feature contributions from all four of the original band members. In addition to Lennon’s vocals, which were recorded in the late 1970s, the song will also include guitar parts recorded by the late George Harrison in 1995.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr touted “Now and Then” as an emotional experience in their joint announcement on Thursday.

“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in a statement. “It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023, to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.”

Starr called it “the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out,

Producers used AI technology to isolate Lennon’s vocals, eliminating audio from a piano recorded on the same track — a challenge that has delayed the project for decades.

The same AI technology was used in Peter Jackson’s Disney+ documentary series Get Back.

Jackson’s series relied on AI-assisted software to disentangle certain pieces of audio and video from the 1970 documentary Let It Be, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

“Now and Then” is available for pre-order on various streaming platforms.

While some filmmakers are embracing AI as a creative tool, others are sounding the alarm over the devastation it could wreak on mankind.

In recent months, prominent directors including James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, and Tim Burton have all condemned or issued dire prognostications about AI.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at [email protected]


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