Can artificial Intelligence replace songwriters? Study on AI lyrics suggests it is possible

Can artificial Intelligence replace songwriters? Study on AI lyrics suggests it is possible
Eminem, Billie Eilish and Garth Brooks (Getty Images)

In an age when artificial intelligence (AI) is touted to take over many jobs across various industries, songwriting would be the last thing coming to our minds — after all, the best songs are about the human experience and how could a robot replicate that?

However, a study by ticket marketplace TickPick analyzed whether AI could, in fact, replace songwriters and their findings might not please many. For the study, the AI software was trained just for five hours with lyrics across various genres, including pop, country, hip-hop and rock. 

Later, the AI-generated lyrics were then tested among 1,003 music fans via Amazon Mechanical Turk "with the intent of testing human ability to correctly identify AI-generated lyrics, as well as their opinion on creativity, emotionality and favorability of various lyrics presented to them."


Models were trained between five and 12 hours after lyrics were taken from and grouped by genre. After training, each AI-artist generated about 100 songs for each genre, from which the team created full-length albums. A GPT-2 Text-Generating Model with GPU via Google Colaboratory was used to generate lyrics.

The lyrics were then run through Grammarly's plagiarism checker to identify instances of overfitting — when data is trained too well and the corresponding results match the training data. Expletives were censored in hip-hop/rap songs.

The results

Over 39 percent of people surveyed thought that AI-generated lyrics were more emotional. However, when it came to their favorite lyrics, manmade lyrics fared better. Nearly 36 percent of people could tell whether the first set of lyrics in the rap genre were AI-generated.

Funnily enough, nearly 24 percent thought the lyrics were actually written by Eminem. 

The initial number was significantly lower for pop — nearly 15 percent could tell the lyrics were AI-generated, however, over 25 percent incorrectly attributed the AI-generated lyrics to Billie Eilish.


There are certainly some interesting lyrics among the ones generated by AI artists. AI-generated lyric "the clouds will reveal what I mean" was considered the most creative lyric by 65 percent of the audience, while nearly 40 percent found "Lonely days, I just can't find the will to go on" to be more emotional than lyrics by Adele and REM.

While manmade lyrics were chosen as the overall favorites by the respondents, we can't help but laugh at the most popular AI-generated lyrics, "I got my rig in the back of my Beemer. Professional when I graze, I’m professional when I argue. 40 glass, I’m laughing at that s***, I'ma be roaring at that s***."

When shown the lyrics, "We don't mind being misunderstood. We don't mind the things that others do. We just look to ourselves and see. From a distance, a different kind of world," most of the respondents incorrectly identified the artiste as either Nirvana or My Chemical Romance — only 13.1 percent identified that the lyrics were AI-generated.

However, the rap genre seems to be the most difficult to replicate. For the lyrics, "In the city at night, wild stars appear. From far away, there's a quiet storm. About to collapse, I'm in a rush to buy a house. The disappointment, just too strong to overcome. My ego and my consciousness got me out the track. So I search for answers, but there aren’t none," 35.8% were able to correctly answer that a human rapper did not create these bars.

The AI artists seemed to fare best in the country genre and we don't blame the respondents for incorrectly identifying Garth Brooks as the artist behind the AI-generated lyrics, "Oh, I'd trade all of my tomorrows for a single yesterday. And if the world could record your pain, I know we could."


Lyrics like "When you're blue, you're really blue" and "I'd trade all of my tomorrows for a single yesterday” make us think that the next big country music artist could be a computer.

Weirdly enough, the pop genre might have been just as hard to replicate as the rap genre for the AI software.

However, the lyrics, "But these scars of love are forever, and your soul is mine. A silent prayer of peace and security. All along, this is a night that is safe and blessed," were incorrectly identified by nearly 26 percent of the respondents to be written by Billie Eilish. 

Computer-generated hits may very well be the way of the future, but for now, we will enjoy the original classics by Eminem, Billie Eilish and My Chemical Romance. Maybe, there could even be scope for collaborations between human artistes and AI.

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