Sheryl Crow says she is “really scared” by the use of AI in music. The Grammy-winning singer of “All I Wanna Do” and “If It Makes You Happy” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week and announced her 12th studio album, Evolution.
The Hollywood Reporter reports on Crow's recent appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, during which she talked about how the concept of AI influenced her new album's title song, “Evolution.” Crow said to Fallon, “My philosophy about it was, OK, I’m gonna write songs that are meaningful, in the moment, right? So instead of writing an entire book, I’ll just put out sentences… but I wound up with a bunch of songs that I’d written just recently, starting off with ‘Evolution,’ which is a song about AI — speaking about the Beatles — and it’s been so disturbing to me.” Crow referred to the use of AI to finish the Beatles' final song, “Now and Then.”
“I did a session the other day and this young songwriter had this incredible song, but she needed a guy to sing on it so that she could pitch it to male singers in Nashville,” said Crow. “Paid $5, put in John Mayer’s name and she played it for me. There’s no way you could tell the difference and it just blew my mind. And it didn’t just sound like him, I mean, like his inflections.”
Sheryl Crow continued, “For me, art is like soul, it’s attached to the soul. So when you get into something that’s so much more advanced than our brains are at this point, it takes the soul out of it, you know, and it’s scary.”
Both SAG-AFTRA and the Grammys Grapple with the Use of AI
Not only does AI dominate the SAG-AFTRA talks with studios, but the Grammys struggle with how to deal when artists use AI to create music. In September, Recording Academy chief Harvey Mason Jr. clarified eligibility rules for Grammy-nominated songs. “This version of ‘Heart on My Sleeve,’ using the AI voice modeling, that sounds like Drake and the Weeknd, it’s not eligible for Grammy consideration,” said Mason Jr. in a video posted on Instagram. “Let me be extra, extra clear, even though it was written by a human creator, the vocals were not legally obtained, the vocals were not cleared by the label or the artists, and the song is not commercially available and because of that, it’s not eligible.” Mason Jr. added:
“I take this [AI] stuff very seriously. It’s all complicated, and it’s moving, really, really quickly. I’m sure things are going to continue to have to evolve and change. But please, please, do not be confused. The Academy is here to support and advocate and protect and represent human artists, and human creators, period.”
Sheryl Crow's Evolution will drop on March 29, 2024.
Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.