The Popstream: Notorious B.I.G. vs. Microsoft Songsmith
We're not even past the first month into 2009, and we've already got what could be the most ridiculous musical event of the year. No, I'm not talking about that new Animal Collective album -- I'm talking about the release of Microsoft Songsmith. Songsmith is an application developed to create on-the-fly MIDI instrumental backing to a pre-existing vocal track, using some user-defined parameters which are then fed into some kind of algorithm or something, though I have no idea how it's really supposed to work. Mostly because it frequently doesn't: throw in anything with too complicated a time signature or too distinct a style, and you'll get all kinds of laughable stylistic mismatches that people will subsequently record and post to YouTube to point and chortle at. This is probably the funniest one I've run across so far: an acapella of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Dead Wrong" set to... uh.
Maybe -- maybe -- the first few seconds of this track hint at something that might work for some dude who's just starting out and selling CD-Rs out of the trunk of his Caprice. But that's before the melody comes in, and this is where the programming goes haywire: how did this computer-music-robot contraption figure that the best accompaniment for one of the most authoritative, booming voices in hip hop was flute and harpsichord? The fact that this is one of Biggie's more raw-assed tracks, with one of the dirtiest sex-with-your-moms scenarios ever pressed to CD, just makes it even goofier.
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