"As far as the creative side, it’s absolutely eligible because it was written by a human."
A highly contentious AI-generated song featuring the cloned vocals of Aubrey "Drake" Graham and Abel Makkonen "the Weeknd" Tesfaye has officially been submitted to the Grammy Awards for consideration, the New York Times reports.
The song, called "Heart on my Sleeve," was produced by an anonymous artist called Ghostwriter. It made major headlines earlier this year, when it went viral on TikTok — and then immediately drew the ire of Graham and Tesfaye's label, Universal Music Group.
The label forced the song to be taken offline across a number of streaming platforms, but not before it racked up 600,000 streams on Spotify and 15 million views on TikTok, as Billboard reported at the time.
Now, the NYT confirmed with a representative for Ghostwriter that the song was submitted to the Grammys for both "best rap song" and "song of the year," both of which technically are awarded to the writers, not performers.
It's a fascinating new wrinkle in the debate surrounding the use of AI in music. Can artists really receive accolades for their use of someone else's vocal style, or are they actively undermining the success of the artists they are impersonating? Do Graham and Tesfaye have exclusive rights to their respective voices — or is it all fair game in the era of AI?
While Harvey Mason, the official in charge of the Recording Academy's Grammy Awards, implied in an extremely muddled statement back in June that "Grammys will only be allowed to go to human creators who have contributed creatively in the appropriate categories," the song is still technically eligible, the NYT reports.
"As far as the creative side, it’s absolutely eligible because it was written by a human," Mason told the newspaper this week.
It's a thorny issue that's bound to remain highly controversial.
"I knew right away as soon as I heard that record that it was going to be something that we had to grapple with from an Academy standpoint," Mason told the NYT, "but also from a music community and industry standpoint."
"We know AI is going to play a role in our business," he added. "We can’t pretend to turn our back on it and try to ban it."
Now, Ghostwriter has turned to two new artists for their next song, a track called "Whiplash" that features the cloned vocals of rappers Travis Scott and Shéyaa "21 Savage" Bin Abraham-Joseph.
The artist is sending a clear message with the new song.
"Me and Writer raise a toast," the AI-generated version of 21 Savage raps. "Trying to shadowban my boy, but you can’t kill a ghost."
More on AI music: Nick Cave Unloads on Musicians Using ChatGPT to Write Songs
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