Paul McCartney has used artificial intelligence (AI) to create the Beatles’ final song.
During an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, the music legend revealed that his team used the technology to “extricate” his late bandmate John Lennon’s voice from an old demo.
He added, “We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year.”
McCartney did not disclose which song will be released, however, it is widely believed to be a 1978 Lennon composition called Now and Then. The demo appears on a cassette Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono once gave to McCartney. The Imagine singer made the cassette, labelled “For Paul”, shortly before he died in 1980.
The concept of using AI came from Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back, for which dialogue editor Emile de la Rey used the technology to separate the band members’ voices from background noise and create clean audio from old footage.
“He (Jackson) was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney explained. “We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.'”
“So when we came to to make what will be the last Beatles’ record, it was a demo that John had (and) we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway.”
The same process allowed the 80-year-old to “duet” with Lennon on his recent tour.
However, McCartney expressed concern over other ways AI can be applied, adding, “I’m not on the internet that much (but) people will say to me, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s a track where John’s singing one of my songs’, and it’s just AI, you know? It’s kind of scary but exciting, because it’s the future. We’ll just have to see where that leads.”