The saga of the AI-generated song that sounds like The Weeknd and Drake continues. After the head honcho behind the Grammys indicated that “Heart on My Sleeve” would be eligible for the award, it appears that the track is dead in the water.
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. took to Instagram to clear up any confusion on the eligibility of “Heart on My Sleeve.” Previously, Mason Jr. said that the song was “absolutely eligible because it was written by a human” in an interview with The New York Times. Mason Jr. revealed in his Instagram video, which was posted on Friday, that the song is actually not eligible for consideration at the next Grammys voting cycle. Even though the song was written by a human, a mysterious persona who goes by Ghostwriter977, Mason Jr. says that the likenesses of Drake and The Weeknd’s voices were not legally obtained or cleared by the respective artists. That thereby disqualifies the song from the “Song of the Year” and “Best Rap Song” categories it was submitted to.
Earlier this summer, Mason Jr. laid out the new rules for how the Recording Academy would be handling AI submissions. Mason Jr. said that AI-assisted music can be submitted, but only the humans, who must have “contributed heavily,” will actually be awarded. For example, in a songwriting category like Song of the Year, a majority of a nominated song would have to be written by a human creator, not a text-based generative AI like ChatGPT or one of the many music-generating apps that have begun to proliferate. Since Ghostwriter977 is a human, they theoretically would win the award, not an AI or The Weeknd or Drake—though it’s not clear how Grammy voters would respond to one of their own being spoofed by a computer. But in Ghostwriter977's specific case, they will win nothing this time around.
Drake and The Weeknd are not the only artists being impersonated by a computer program. Ghostwriter977 recently revealed on Twitter that they had created a song with the voices of 21 Savage and Travis Scott (and it sounds scarily accurate). At the same time bogus Frank Ocean tracks were sold for thousands of dollars online—those tracks were touted as unreleased leaks but were created with AI. Universal Music Group also begged streaming services to prevent AI from accessing music data in a bid to stop the proliferation of training AI to sound like popular musicians. More recently, Spotify has purged thousands of AI-generated songs from the platform.