If you’re a fan of The Beatles, you’ve probably heard the band’s latest release, Now and Then. From an unfinished project recorded in 1970, it finally became a complete song, followed by a video. Well, today, we’re talking about that video, as it wasn’t very well received. It shows a remarkably obvious (and rather terrible) use of AI, and “troubling,” “uncanny,” “horrendous,” and “digital necromancy” are just some of the ways the critics describe it.
The story behind this song is quite fascinating. John Lennon recorded the vocal on tape back in 1970. In 1980, he was murdered, and Paul, George, and Ringo first worked on his demo in February 1995. It was part of The Beatles Anthology project, but it remained unfinished partly because of technological challenges. Then, in 2001, George Harrison passed away, and the song was seemingly forgotten.
“For years it looked like the song could never be completed,” the video description reads. “But in 2022 there was a stroke of serendipity.”
“A software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team, used throughout the production of the documentary series Get Back, finally opened the way for the uncoupling of John’s vocal from his piano part. As a result, the original recording could be brought to life and worked on anew with contributions from all four Beatles. This remarkable story of musical archaeology reflects The Beatles’ endless creative curiosity and shared fascination with technology. It marks the completion of the last recording that John, Paul and George and Ringo will get to make together and celebrates the legacy of the foremost and most influential band in popular music history.”
As I mentioned, the critics didn’t receive the video very well. Some of the frames are so terribly bad that it looks like Peter Jackson used a free AI video generator on his phone. In fact, I can’t believe that the same man who’s behind The Lord of The Rings made this. The bit where John Lennon watches at the sunset, and young band members appear… Oh dear!
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one cringing at the video. Gizmodo says the video “will surely go down as some of the worst artistic decisions in the history of pop culture.”
“I went into the video in a forgiving mood. There’s no way for a piece of art like this to be truly great in the traditional sense. It’s a nostalgia project, a message of love, and maybe some closure for the fans. But this isn’t charming or cute. It’s tactless, gruesome, and undeniably disturbing. If you want to be generous — far more generous than this video deserves — the kindest word you should call it is embarrassing.”
AV Club was the mildest in its criticism, calling the video “a goofy little time capsule.” They describe it as if “it looks more like when someone adds a sticker GIF to their Instagram Story than a Peter Jackson-worthy visual effect.” The Daily Beast believes that the remaining members of the Fab Four should have just “let the song be.”
Creative Bloq describes it as “bizarre” and “uncanny,” among other things. According to them, this video proves that “just because we have access to AI technology, doesn’t always mean that it’s necessary (or appropriate) in every scenario.” According to The Telegraph, the video is “more horrifying than anything in Tolkien.” I personally loved this review because it’s incredibly funny even though it’s cynical.
On the other hand, many fans liked the song and described the video as “emotional.” Daily Mail and other outlets praised it, too. Apparently, they didn’t mind the creepy Lennon or the poorly blended deceased and alive band members on stage. Also, many of them got misty-eyed seeing the empty stage at the end of the video.
As for the song, I personally like it, even though it’s far from being the best The Beatles have ever made. But I’m a big fan of the band, and I’m not a music critic, so I’m not the most objective person in the world regarding their music. So, let me know what you think of the song and the video!