Stop sending Nick Cave those AI-generated “in the style of Nick Cave” songs made from ChatGPT because he’s just not into them. In his latest The Red Hand Files newsletter, the songwriter made that opinion very clear while tearing into a fan’s submission of one such ChatGPT song based on Cave’s own lyrics.
“Since its launch in November [of] last year many people, most buzzing with a kind of algorithmic awe, have sent me songs ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ created by ChatGPT,” Cave began. “There have been dozens of them. Suffice to say, I do not feel the same enthusiasm around this technology.”
He continued, “I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI — that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster. It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction. Who can possibly say which? Judging by this song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ though, it doesn’t look good, Mark. The apocalypse is well on its way. This song sucks.”
The song in question taps into typical Nick Cave themes like good and evil (“I am the sinner, I am the saint/ I am the darkness, I am the light,” the lyrics begin). Yet Cave isn’t worried about the technical writing of the poem so much as the (lack of) feeling behind it — after all, a computer doesn’t experience the same trauma that a human would to inspire such words.
“Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer,” Cave opined. “ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend. ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.”
He finished the note by addressing the poor fan whose submission inspired the diatribe in the first place: “Mark, thanks for the song, but with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it.” Read his full remarks (and the lyrics to the ChatGPT song) here.
Cave’s newsletter has been a cathartic avenue for the ever-eloquent writer to connect with fans in recent years. The artist has discussed grief in light of his son’s passing, and weighed in on the topic of separating the art from the artist after Kanye West’s fall into antisemitism. As far as music goes, he and Warren Ellis last composed the soundtrack for the Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde.