and also the performance

Apparently, the singer Nick Cave has been sent dozens of songs generated by chatGPT “in the style of Nick Cave”. He’s not impressed:

This song sucks. What ChatGPT is, in this instance, is replication as travesty. ChatGPT may be able to write a speech or an essay or a sermon or an obituary but it cannot create a genuine song. It could perhaps in time create a song that is, on the surface, indistinguishable from an original, but it will always be a replication, a kind of burlesque.

– Nick Cave

Cave’s (passionate) argument focuses on what it takes to write a song: the suffering, the desire for newness “beyond the limits of what he or she recognises as their known self”, the blood and guts.

But what of the physical performance of a song? I’ve never seen Nick Cave perform live but I know his concerts to be transcendent experiences in which Cave embodies the lyrics by growling and prowling through them. His body renders the words something other than (or more than) their role as the semantic abstractions that we know as language. What about this kind of sweating, pulsing, dancing, grinding body when we click a button to get chatGPT to perform for us?