Look – we all know the robot takeover is coming. The idea that all human labor could be replaced by sentient machines is a concept that most people have at least heard of, and many of us have mused on how our lives would be affected. Musicians – did you think you might be safe from losing your job to an AI? I may have some bad news for you.
Copenhagen-based band The Forever Now may have achieved a world first this holiday season – the indie rock group has collaborated with a GPT-2 algorithm on none other than an original Christmas carol. The result is an absolutely fascinating piece of music titled Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, King of All the Earth.
The AI was created by machine learning researcher and TED fellow Janelle Shane (read her take on her Christmas song experiment here). She trained her neural network on 240 Christmas carols, as well as 40GB of text data scraped from the internet, and then asked it to write lyrics to a Christmas song of its own.
The result? Well, it seems as though it had a tough time distinguishing between the religious themes and festive characters that permeate the vast majority of Christmas music. You can check out the full lyrics on The Forever Now’s Bandcamp page, but here’s a taste of what it came up with:
“Rudolph the Red Nosed
Reindeer, with its red belly
The All-gracious King
The All-gracious King
Of all the earth
Had a baby at Christmas time
A baby at Christmas time”
Things get even stranger in the next verse at the line “A true and holy Deity went down to earth… With human flesh for sacrifice.” Shane attributes this to the mentions of more macabre religious lyrics in the likes of Good King Wenceslas and We Three Kings. So perhaps it’s just a misunderstanding of our quirky human culture combinations that occur this time of year… or perhaps we should be a bit more wary of our smart speakers and self driving cars.
While it’s impossible not to stay perhaps too hyper-focused on the strangeness that is a robot lyricist, the music itself is a wonderful complement to such an otherworldly collection of words. The Forever Now have created a holiday tune that has plenty of classic modern Christmas elements and a definitive indie-rock sound; pieces of welcome familiarity that help to balance out the composition and make it, honestly – a pretty good song, inhuman elements be damned (if you herald a reindeer as your lord and savior, anyways).
Do yourself a favor ahead of the machine uprising – stream Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, King of All the Earth, and thank an AI near you for its creativity. And while you’re at it, check out The Forever Now – when they’re not collaborating with robots, they’re cultivating a really vibrant, dynamic indie rock sound that’s well worth your time too.
BELOW: Listen to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, King of All the Earth and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support The Forever Now by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!