In the parallel universe of last year’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Dr. Demento encourages a young Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe) to move away from song parodies and start writing original songs of his own. During an LSD trip, Al writes “Eat It,” a 100% original song that’s definitely not based on any other song, which quickly becomes “the biggest hit by anybody, ever.”
Later, Weird Al’s enraged to learn from his manager that former Jackson 5 frontman Michael Jackson turned the tables on him, changing the words of “Eat It” to make his own parody, “Beat It.”
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This got me thinking: what if every Weird Al song was the original, and every other artist was covering his songs instead? With recent advances in A.I. voice cloning, I realized that I could bring this monstrous alternate reality to life.
This was a terrible idea and I regret everything.
Everything that is wrong with, and everything that is right with, AI voice cloning, brought together in one place. Hearing simulations of artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Kurt Cobain singing Weird Al’s versions of their songs is… strange and unsettling.
Some of them are pretty convincing, which is a useful and accessible reminder about how powerful these tools are becoming. An under-reported story from a few years back identified what might be the first recorded case of criminals using AI-based voice spoofing as part of a telephone scam, and since then the technology needed to enact such fraud has only become more widely-available. While this weirder-than-Weird-Al project is first and foremost funny, for many it foreshadows darker things.