The Beatles’ latest track “Now and Then” exists with the help of AI used to extract John Lennon’s voice from old recordings. But interest in the AI curiosity is waning as it slips down the charts.
The Beatles released the new track more than 50 years after their breakup. Paul McCartney shared the source of the recordings are a set of tapes Lennon’s widow gave him in 1980 after he was killed. The tapes were labeled ‘For Paul.’ Two of the songs were released in 1995 and 1996 as part of an Anthology project. Those tracks “Real Love” and “Free as a Bird” were the first new tracks from the band in more than two decades.
“Now and Then” sources Lennon’s voice from those cassette tapes, but it uses vocals and backing tracks recorded by surviving band members. The uniqueness of the track lies in the presence of Lennon’s voice, even after 40 years since his passing. While the track has certainly captured mainstream attention, it is beginning to slip down the Spotify charts as interest in the new music wanes.
Part of that has been the super fan response to the track. “For one thing, the song lacks the real-time collaboration that defined the Beatles’ style,” reads a piece critical of the sound. “Sonically, the song bears much more resemblance to recent Paul McCartney works than to other pieces from the Beatles’ repertoire.”
That opinion seems to be shared among other super fans as the track is slipping across the US, UK, and Global charts. Let’s take a peek.
In The Beatles home territory of the United Kingdom, just a week after release the song has dropped to #13 on the Top 50 charts with interest rapidly falling. But on the Spotify US & Global charts, the song has already escaped the top 50 streaming tracks. The initial interest in hearing John Lennon’s voice again was certainly there—but the use of AI to get the song across the goal line has been controversial.
The two original releases in the ‘90s didn’t tamper with the construction of the original compositions—unlike “Now and Then.” Perhaps it’s best described as a tribute to The Beatles by the remaining two, though Paul shares more credit on the song than Ringo. McCartney is credited on several instruments on the track, is the producer, and served as one of the composers of the string arrangement.