• Laura Smith

Bot the Heck?! Australia Enters AI Eurovision Song Contest



The COVID-19 pandemic may have cancelled the Eurovision Song Contest, but a number of new song contests are springing up in the hopes of filling the Eurovision-shaped void in the world’s hearts and sharing the joy of music in these difficult times. One of these contests is the AI Song Contest.


The AI Song Contest is a project organised by Dutch public broadcasters featuring songs created with the help of artificial intelligence.

13 teams from eight different countries in Europe and Australia will be participating in the inaugural event, with some countries even having multiple teams.


The countries taking part are:

  • Australia

  • Belgium

  • France

  • Germany

  • The Netherlands

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

  • United Kingdom


The result will be decided by a panel of AI experts and a public online vote.

The team Uncanny Valley are representing Australia with the song ‘Beautiful The World’.


https://youtu.be/sAzULywAHUM


The team is made up of members with a variety of academic backgrounds including computer science, maths, social anthropology, evolutionary & adaptive systems, music, and interactive design.


‘Beautiful The World’ was created by training a neural network on audio samples of the calls of kookaburras, Tasmanian devils, and koalas, as well as a pool of 200 Eurovision songs (you might be able to hear the influence of works such as ‘Ding-A-Dong’ and ‘Monsters’ in the song’s lyrics). The melody and lyrics were created using artificial intelligence, although human singers were later used to sing the melody, and a human producer helped bring the song to life.


Uncanny Valley views their work as a response to the recent Australian bushfires which took the lives of many native animals, and the actual audio output generated by the AI trained on the sounds of these animals can be heard in the final recording.


Their message is one of “hope that nature will recover and triumph”. Although the team’s message is important, Uncanny Valley has stated that their main priority was that the song should be “fun” and “a song you could play on your guitar around a campfire”.


So, how can artificial intelligence be used to compose music? Getting a computer to write a song isn’t quite the same as Alexander Rybak’s songwriting process. At the time of writing this article, an AI system cannot generate new musical ideas on its own, AI models have to ‘listen’ to large amounts of existing music (data) input by humans before it can generate meaningful musical ideas.

In the AI Song Contest, the participating teams have fed AI programs with data ranging from Eurovision songs, to Dutch folk songs (Can AI Kick It, The Netherlands), and even a fake news generator (Dadabots x Portrait XO, Germany)!


Although the AI Song Contest is not the first time an AI song has been created using data from Eurovision entries, with the AI-created song ‘Blue Jeans and Bloody Tears’ taking the internet by storm in recent years, there are many interesting and innovative songs in this year’s contest that are sure to surprise!


Just like Eurovision, the result will be determined by both a “jury” (a panel of AI experts who will evaluate the songs based on the degree of AI used in the composition) and a public vote.

Voting is open until 10 May 2020, so be sure to have your say and vote for your favourite entries in the AI Song Contest 2020!


You can evaluate your favourite AI Song Contest songs here: https://www.vprobroadcast.com/titles/ai-songcontest/vote.html


The winner of the AI Song Contest will be announced on 12 May 2020.


You can listen to all of the AI Song Contest songs that have been uploaded so far on Spotify in this playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4xnBi0S21rFHhhK0iGHpiS?si=b1eVJ8w5SHqyuU_tvsCWdw

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