I have… questions.
First, on a gut level I just don’t understand the appeal of an AI popstar. So much of pop stardom (and especially K-pop stardom) is built around personality and charisma. Those aspects can be programmed to some extent, but computers are never going to be able to replicate the quirks and charms that inspire the kind of idol worship K-pop has built its business around. Beyond that, I just don’t see the need. There’s certainly not a shortage of trainees, and I doubt their ever will be.
Regardless, tech (?) company Pulse9 has gone and created their own virtual girl group. From their dead eyes to their robotic dance moves, Eternity is like a nightmare come to life. You half expect the girls to pause mid-song, voice lowered to a hellish tone, and mutter “I’m going to kill you in your sleep.”
In reality, the vocals that “perform” I’m Real sound more like wailing cats. I’m a little unclear whether the audio is also computer generated or just a warped version of actual voices. Either way, the result is muddled, off-key and deeply creepy. You’d think that computer-assisted pop music would result in product that was more polished, but Eternity sounds drunk and ornery, as if these robots were at the end of their battery life. I’ve never needed to use words like “melting” and “malfunctioning” to describe vocals, but I’m Real is giving us a lot of firsts.
The song’s instrumental is basically every K-pop trope thrown into a blender. It’s algorithmic, which isn’t surprising given the nature of this project. I’ll throw it a bone for its adventurous spirit – a little organ here, a little guitar there – but like everything else about I’m Real, its structure is a mess. Elements appear without any purpose beyond distracting from those ghastly vocals.
Oh, Eternity. Thanks for single-handedly dragging down my cumulative rating for March!