I’ve had a song stuck in my head for the last two weeks, and though the music is very real, the band is not. Daisy Jones and the Six is a TV adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel by the same name, and in the course of making the show, they recorded enough songs for a full, real album. It turns out other people have been listening, too, as “Aurora” topped the iTunes charts last week.
It’s nothing new to assemble notable singer-songwriters like Marcus Mumford, Phoebe Bridgers, and Jackson Browne to write the lyrics and music for a TV show or movie. It’s another thing altogether to have the co-stars, who had never previously sung professionally, record it. Lead Riley Keough has some genetics to lean on as the granddaughter of Elvis, and I guess the rest of the cast should sign up for 23andMe just to make sure.
Meanwhile, in another case of a real song by an artist that’s not exactly, well, an artist, an AI-generated song mimicking Drake and The Weeknd went viral on social media and music streaming services. According to the BBC, “On Spotify it was streamed 629,439 times before it was pulled. At Spotify's lowest royalty rate of $0.003 per stream, that means it earned about $1,888 (£1,500).”
At the same time Universal Music Group was using its influence and legal department to get the song scrubbed from mainstream music platforms, Grimes, more recently known as the partner of Elon Musk, but who also had the song of the year in 2012 according to Pitchfork, invited fans and collaborators to use her likeness, tweeting, “I'll split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice. Same deal as I would with any artist i collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty. I have no label and no legal bindings.”
While I’d hate to see musicians lose any more revenue opportunities, the best way to avoid losing out may be jumping in and embracing the generative power of some of these tools before other opportunists do.
The news this week got me thinking of other standout songs made for TV or movies that held their own on the charts. Here are four of them…
Don’t forget about a fake band (the Planotones in “American Hot Wax”) that sang a real song (“At the Hop”) that became a real band (Kenny Vance and the Planotones) that had a hit with a fake song (“Looking for an Echo,” which purported to be a ‘50s doowop song but was actually released in 1996) - “We are the Planatones, from…Brook-Lyn-New-Yawk!!”
I still listen to the Nashville tv show soundtrack!