The Beatles are getting one last song thanks to artificial intelligence. The group’s frontman, Paul McCartney, recently spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today, according to Billboard, where he explained using AI technology to “extricate” the late John Lennon’s vocals from an old demo to the upcoming track.
“We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year,” McCartney told BBC about the song, which is rumored to be 1978 Lennon composition “Now and Then.” Although The Beatles broke up in the early 1970s, “Now and Then” was reportedly intended to be a reunion song between the Fab Four as part of their 1995 Anthology series. The series also included two new songs based on demos that Lennon recorded post-Beatles, and prior to his murder in April 1980.
McCartney is said to have received the demo by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, in 1994. “Now and Then” was one of several songs made on a cassette labeled “Four Paul,” which Lennon recorded in his New York apartment and concluded before his death.
The BBC reported that during the making of Peter Jackson-directed The Beatles music docuseries Get Back, dialog editor Emile de la Rey trained computers to recognize each member’s voice, separating it from background noise and instrumentation. With the technology, McCartney was also able to perform a virtual duet with Lennon on his Got Back Tour in 2022.
“He [Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney told Radio 4 about the untitled final Beatles song. “We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’ So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles’ record, it was a demo that John had [and] we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway.”