Patrick Stump on AI Chatbot Fall Out Boy Lyrics: “You’re Consuming Art That Has No Expression Behind It”
The members of Fall Out Boy are weighing in on the impacts of AI and algorithms on the music industry.
In a recent interview with The Independent, the band discussed how their latest album, So Much (for) Stardust, fits into their musical evolution and extensive discography as well as their musical growth. The band, which has been around for two decades, has always played with their tone, with their latest album arriving as a “very low-tech” follow-up to the “cyborg” sounds of 2018’s Mania, according to lead singer and lyricist Patrick Stump.
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It’s a blending of the band’s eras that also acknowledges the passage of time and the increasing rise of a “pretty not authentic world,” said bassist Pete Wentz, thanks to things like the metaverse and NFTs.
“We live in a world where it’s NFTs and avatars and my kids are constantly buying Fortnite skins,” Wentz said. “I get it, I’ve understood it, they’ve educated me, I’m downloaded on what this all is. But at the same time, I think that there’s something in Fall Out Boy’s DNA of being a little counterintuitive. I would rather do tangible things — I want this record to feel like it’s something you could touch; you could go inside.”
That rejection of tech’s growing presence in everyone’s daily lives extends to the presence of chatbots and lyrics, with Stump sharing that a family member had once gotten ChatGPT to produce some lyrics.
“They prompted it to write a Fall Out Boy song and then showed me the lyrics going, ‘Wow, look at this!’” Stump recalled. “I’m going, ‘Those are the worst lyrics I’ve ever read.’”
The singer acknowledged that artificial intelligence will get better with time, but said that ultimately it won’t matter because what it creates will lack artistic authenticity and intent. “I think it’s very much in the realm of possibility that AI starts writing songs, that the songs start being good, whatever,” he said. “The thing I wonder, in that Dr. Malcolm [from Jurassic Park] way — ‘You ask what you could do, you never ask if you should’ — is why? Art is about expression, so if you’re consuming art that has no expression behind it, what’s the point?”
And while Stump said that he “understands it from a capitalistic perspective,” for consumers, “as somebody experiencing art,” it has little value.
“There was this big controversy in New York about it but the artist was from somewhere in Africa where that specific material meant something specific,” the Fall Out Boy frontman said, referencing Chris Ofili, a British artist of Nigerian descent, whose 1996 painting The Holy Virgin Mary featured one of the Virgin Mary’s breasts rendered in elephant dung. “It didn’t mean the same thing to us that it meant to him. So, the context was all of the art. If an AI did that, there’s no story behind it. You have no connection with the AI.”
Stumps added that technology will probably advance to the point that he’s no longer hired to score movies, “but at the end of the day, I would hope there’s still art that people are making, because that’s the point. That’s the stuff we shouldn’t be automating.”
Still, not all the technological advances of the past two decades are so bad. While the band remains weary of things like algorithms, Wentz said that streaming has increased the exposure of younger generations to older music and given newer artists the chance to play with the song form.
“You’re in this era where anything can get big and old songs get big, you could have a minute-long song, you could have no chorus, there’s not a lot of rules,” he said. “If you have a good song and an interesting perspective, maybe people will at least give it a shot.”
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