Digitalia: Microsoft Songsmith Corrects Artists' Glaring Oversights

Billy Idol, "White Wedding"... sort of

Microsoft Songsmith, a music-making computer program, has already racked up plenty of Internet accolades based on its eerily terrible commercial, wherein normal, everyday people dealing with normal, everyday problems - such as being tasked to write an ad campaign for glow-in-the-dark towels - suddenly burst into song backed by soulless, canned electronic instrumentation that lies somewhere between the soundtrack to a late-'80s children's cartoon and Thom Yorke's next solo album.

Speaking of Mr. Yorke, some enterprising souls on YouTube, a user named azz100c in particular, have taken actual vocal tracks from popular songs and run them through the program, which not only decides what instruments to back the vocals with, but even decides on a genre based on... what? Pitch? Tone? Perceived soulfulness?

Rocks Off has no idea what's going on in Songsmith's binary mind, but its results range from bizarre (Oasis' "Wonderwall" as darkwave techno) to hilarious (The Police's "Roxanne" as bouncy Latin salsa) to possible genius ("Creep" by Radiohead as an up-tempo near-reggae tune that sounds like a Vampire Weekend cover).

And then there's the darkness of The Village People's "YMCA," which gets transformed into a gloomy dirge so overblown it wouldn't sound at all out of place running over the closing credits of The Omen. Of course, it's impossible to fully explain the process to you. You'll have to see for yourself.

Rush, "Tom Sawyer"

Marvin Gaye, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"

The Village People, "YMCA"

Rocks Off has to apologize to all of you: if you're anything like us, you're obviously going to spend the rest of your day watching and listening to these. Just try to get some work done tomorrow.

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John Seaborn Gray