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by Ella Mai

Given recent developments in neural-network technology, some are understandably expressing concerns that AI might begin to do human musicians out of a job. Eternal optimist that I am, however, there’s a part of me that welcomes this development on the basis that I reckon productions like this one will probably be first against the wall when the robot revolution arrives!

A two-bar piano loop. A slightly square-wave-y synth bass. The usual retro drum-machine samples with a few MPC-style rolls. A ‘let’s play with the mute buttons’ arrangement. Excited yet? Well, wait until you hear the vocals! Honestly, her performance has been so steamrollered with tuning and timing processing that if someone had told me this was a demo for the latest generation of backing-vocal virtual instrument, I’d not have batted an eyelid. It’s like it’s trespassing on the Uncanny Valley from the wrong side! Now, of course, I realise that plenty of artists use extreme vocal correction as a genre flag, but the novelty factor’s surely worn off by now, so I can’t help thinking that if you’re going to leach so much expression out of the lead singer’s voice like this then you really ought to have something else interesting going on in the arrangement to take up the slack. Or else just prepare to submit to The Matrix.