The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest was held on Saturday in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Sweden's Loreen won this year's contest with her song "Tattoo."
I asked ChatGPT to write a Eurovision song and I thought it was better.
Like the United Kingdom's Mae Muller at this year's Eurovision, I wrote a song.
OK, really, ChatGPT wrote it.
But like Muller's entry at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, it was — in my completely unbiased opinion as someone who grew up in Britain — pretty good. And it also got just a handful of votes, albeit from friends who I bribed with Pimm's cups and scones to join my watch party for the occasion.
If you're reading this and thinking, "Isn't Eurovision a Will Ferrell movie?" — you are right, and you are wrong. There's the laugh-out-loud 2020 movie, and there's also the international singing contest it's based on: a high-camp, musical extravaganza where artists representing European countries (and more recently, Australia) perform an original song, typically in wild outfits and glitter with a fleet of backup dancers and pyrotechnics.
Think of Eurovision as Europe's megawatt version of "American Idol," but, instead of a cash prize, the winner gets a microphone-shaped trophy and possibly their big break; it's where the careers of ABBA, Celine Dion, and Måneskin were born. The country the winning act represents also gets to host the next year's contest, so it's really a musical tourism campaign. The notes are high and the stakes are higher.
But watching this year's contest on Saturday, held in Liverpool, England, I was mostly underwhelmed.
Though I liked a few of the performances, there was no clear winner for me — no "Zitti E Buoni" or "My Number One" — and I was curious what it takes to write a good Eurovision song. So I asked ChatGPT, an AI chatbot people are asking to handle everything from work email to designing their exercise routine, to give it a try. (OK, I asked my husband to ask ChatGPT; I was too busy watching the show.)
The result arguably has all the elements of a classic Eurovision song, and honestly, I prefer it to the winning entry from Sweden's Loreen, who picked up the microphone trophy for the second time after performing "Tattoo." (No shade on Loreen, but it wasn't for me.)
Here are the lyrics:
My initial thought was, "Wow, this isn't half bad."
The lyrics are upbeat, inspiring, and mention music, rhythm, love, a drum, the words "roar" and "fire" — all components of a Eurovision hit. "Fire" would lend itself beautifully to pyrotechnics. "Roar" could inform the costumes (catsuits with a lion vibe, obviously). And a choreographer could really go to town with these lyrics.
The consensus among my friends was that it was an impressive effort, and better than some lyrics we'd heard during the competition with the exception, perhaps, of Austrian duo Teya & Salena's "Who the Hell is Edgar?" — a song dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe for no apparent reason.
Later, my husband and I returned to the AI bot to ask for a song title. This time, I was less impressed: "Based on the lyrics, a suitable title for the song could be, 'Rhythm of the Night.'" It felt too obvious, and there are other songs with the same title.
Giving it the benefit of the doubt, we then asked ChatGPT for some creative direction.
It came up with some pretty solid stage-design ideas: a light-up dance floor, multi-level stage, LED screen backdrop, fireworks and pyrotechnics, and neon lights and laser beams. Individually, they all make sense, but why choose one when you could do them all? After all, more is more when it comes to Eurovision.
Then, we asked about costumes. For whatever reason, my husband thought a four-person band would be the best vehicle for the song, so we went with that.
Once again, ChatGPT spat out predictable results: colorful outfits (duh), coordinated looks (duh again), "shimmer and shine" to "add to the excitement of the performance" (my personal favorite), futuristic style (to match the laser beams), and, naturally, "comfortable and flexible," so you can dance. With all this in mind, I stand by my catsuit idea.
Something similar worked for this year's winner, Loreen, who went for a feline look complete with mile-long claws.
As a final step, my husband asked for a melody. This part got a bit too technical for me, as someone who quit piano lessons too soon, but my husband might attempt it on his guitar.
Ultimately, our test of ChatGPT shows that it can follow the formula for a Eurovision hit, but it won't test the bounds of creativity. At a time when Hollywood writers are on strike, partly due to worry about the future of entertainment and AI, our experiment proves that true creativity should not be squandered. Our song may be better than Loreen's "Tattoo," in my opinion, but it's no "Waterloo," which ABBA won with in 1974.
Still, part of me is curious to see how this song would land with the Eurovision crowd. Stay tuned to see if we make it to Sweden for the 2024 contest.
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