'This song sucks': Bad Seeds musician Nick Cave criticises song created by ChatGPT in his style

Split image. Left image: Nick Cave. Right image: A person holding a phone with the ChatGPT application open.
Nick Cave said he has been sent 'dozens' of songs created by ChatGPT. Credit: PA/ChatGPT

Nick Cave has said a song written in the style of himself by the artificial intelligence (AI) service, ChatGPT, "sucks", calling it a "grotesque mockery of what it is to be human".

The Australian musician was responding to a fan, who had sent him a song created by the AI.

Writing in his newsletter, The Red Hand Files, he said that since ChatGPT was launched in November he had received "dozens" of songs, most of which had been sent by people "buzzing with a kind of algorithmic awe".

ChatGPT requires users to enter a prompt which it will then respond to, mimicking an almost human like conversation. It can give answers to questions, recognise mistakes and counter inappropriate requests.

As some individuals have now discovered it can also be used to write song lyrics.

But the Bad Seeds singer was left far from impressed with its attempt at mimicking his own writing style, saying: "Suffice to say, I do not feel the same enthusiasm around this technology."

He added: "What ChatGPT is, in this instance, is replication as travesty. ChatGPT may be able to write a speech or an essay or a sermon or an obituary but it cannot create a genuine song.

"It could perhaps in time create a song that is, on the surface, indistinguishable from an original, but it will always be a replication, a kind of burlesque."

The song Cave critiqued featured several verses and a chorus, which read: "I am the sinner, I am the saint . I am the darkness, I am the light . I am the hunter, I am the prey . I am the devil, I am the savior."

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Cave said "songs arise out of suffering" and that he believes AI technology cannot create a genuine song as "algorithms don't feel".

"Data doesn’t suffer. 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," he said.

He said that "writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche", and that an AI can only try to replicate "the transcendent journey of the artist that forever grapples with his or her own shortcomings".

"This is where human genius resides, deeply embedded within, yet reaching beyond, those limitations," he added.

Signing off in his response Cave thanked the fan for sending the song to him, but countered: "With all the love and respect in the world, this song is b*******, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human, and, well, I don’t much like it."

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT was created by the Silicon Valley company OpenAI - which counts Elon Musk amongst its founders - with the aim of creating AI software that can mimic human conversations.

The software was programmed using a machine learning technique called Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback, and has been trained on large data sets from the internet to allow it to do this.

As well as responding to user prompts and questions it can also be used within digital marketing and online content creation.

In recent weeks, ChatGPT's emergence has even prompted concern from some in the education sector that it could be misused by students to cheat assessments and create plagiarised works.