By Haley Moore, January 29th, 2009

Microsoft recently introduced a new utility called Songsmith, which takes a vocal track and creates background music for it.  The utility is in beta, and as cutting-edge as the technology might be, the music it produces isn’t exactly compelling.  The best it seems to be able to do is match your vocals with bouncy, overloaded midi tracks.

However, there is a bright side to this story. Further confirming my faith in the Internet to spin bad ideas into comedy gold, a music geek going by azz100c on YouTube has started plugging the vocal tracks from classic pop songs into Songsmith and dubbing the results over the original videos.  The results are naturally hilarious.

Since then, other users have picked up the meme and started songsmithing everyone from Rick Astley to Barack Obama.

It’s interesting to watch Songsmith re-interpret familiar songs.  The program seems to have neatly recast Billy Idol’s White Wedding as a bluegrass song, and it takes the reggae influences on The Police to an extreme I think we’re all uncomfortable with.  The voices on I Heard it Through the Grapevine are almost right, but the composition is still immensely wrong.

The funny thing is that these videos are more entertaining than the actual YouTube ads for Songsmith, which have a sort of half-baked Dr. Horrible feel to them, and simply can’t compare to the awesomeness of the We Will Rock You Calypso.  It’s an odd source of exposure for Microsoft, considering the process serves to show just how poorly Songsmith works, but I suppose there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Brought to you by the letter H, hat tip to Amanda.

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Haley Moore is a newspaper reporter, artist, and playwright based in north Texas. She has worked on several indie, fan and commercial Alternate Reality Games.


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