Drake and The Weeknd have both been very vocal about their decisions not to submit their music to the Grammy Awards in recent years. However, there will be at least one track featuring their voices being considered for the 2024 ceremony. Or something close to them. It has been confirmed that producer Ghostwriter has submitted his controversial track ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ – which features AI-generated vocals mimicking both artists – for consideration.
Released earlier this year, the track quickly went viral on TikTok and sparked much debate. It also appeared on the streaming services, although Universal Music moved quickly to have it taken down as the label for both Drake and The Weeknd. Neither the training of any AI model with their music nor the imitation of their voices had been approved.
Who knows if voting members of the Recording Academy will actually vote for such a track, but in theory it is eligible. Earlier this summer, Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr confirmed that songs using AI could be submitted for awards that focus on songwriting, so long as there was some human involvement in the making of the song.
Mason elaborated that while an AI-generated performance would not be eligible, the human-composed elements of a song could be. He also praised Ghostwriter directly for initiating dialogue around the evolving role of AI in music and recognised the track’s potential to stir controversy.
‘Heart On My Sleeve’ was submitted for Best Rap Song and Song Of The Year, categories that recognise the song’s writers rather than performers. And while the vocals were computer-generated, the lyrics in the track were written by Ghostwriter.
It still remains to be seen if ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ makes it through to the shortlists though. Particularly as it may fall foul of Grammy rules requiring “general distribution”, or broad availability, of a track. It may be that Universal’s move to have the track removed from the streaming services means it will not be considered readily available enough to be put forward for further consideration.
However, if it does get through, that would make next year’s Grammys very interesting. And controversial. Drake and The Weeknd have not yet commented on all this, but if ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ is shortlisted, it seems unlikely that they’ll stay quiet. No AI will be necessary to get their mouths flapping.