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The Beatles Release a New Song

The British rock band the Beatles just released a song called “Now and Then.”

The Beatles in dark suits and black ties pose together, each one holding a medal in a small box.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This photo of the Beatles was taken in 1965. It shows (from left to right) Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison.

The British rock band the Beatles broke up in 1970, more than 50 years ago. But in 2023, they released a new song, which they produced with the help of technology.

Called “Now and Then,” the song was written by former band member John Lennon long after the Beatles had broken up. Lennon recorded the song at his home on a small device called a tape recorder in the late 1970s. It’s not a very clear recording. Lennon’s piano playing made his voice difficult to hear, and a TV could be heard in the background. Lennon never made a professional recording of the song. Sadly, he died in 1980.

Today, only two of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, are still alive. The other Beatle, George Harrison, died in 2001. The three of them last worked together in 1995, when they added their voices and instruments to a couple of Lennon’s other recorded songs. They tried to work on “Now and Then,” but it was impossible. They weren’t able to make Lennon’s voice clearer or erase the sound of the TV in the background.

But today, a technology called machine learning allows people to separate different sounds on a music recording. With help from music producer Giles Martin, McCartney and Starr cleaned up Lennon’s recording of “Now and Then” so that only Lennon’s voice and piano could be heard, and his voice was clearer. Then they added more sounds. McCartney played guitar and piano, and Starr played drums. The song also includes a recording of George Harrison’s guitar playing.

John Lennon’s son, Sean Ono Lennon, is a fan of the finished song.

“My dad would’ve loved that, because he was never shy to experiment with recording technology. I think it’s really beautiful,” said Ono Lennon in a short video the Beatles released.

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The new Beatles recording was made with the help of a form of technology called artificial intelligence (AI). AI can be used to write songs, a fact that has many people upset. They believe that music should be created by people, not machines.

The Best Ever?

A smartphone cycling through a playlist of the music artists with the most number one hits

Getty Images: Michael Ochs Archives, Christopher Polk, Graham Wiltshire—Hulton Archive, Phil Walter—Hulton Archive, Jeff Haynes—AFP, Gregory Shamus, Kevin Mazur—Wire Image; PRNewsFoto/Kodak/AP Images; © Cinemafestival/Shutterstock.com; © Arvind Kumar/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Why is a new Beatles song such a big deal? Because the Beatles were big.

The Beatles were a band from Liverpool, England, made up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison started playing music together as teenagers, and Starr joined them a few years later. In the 1960s, the Beatles became the most famous band in the world.

Part of what made the Beatles so popular was their ability to write catchy songs that people could remember and sing long after hearing them. As the 1960s continued, the Beatles changed their sound. Their songs became less simple and more complex. They helped change popular music because as the Beatles changed, so did many other rock bands.

Between 1964 and 1970, when they broke up, the Beatles had 20 songs that went to number one in the U.S., meaning that for a time, they were selling more than any other song. Here’s a list of the artists who have had the most number one hits.

The Beatles (20)

Mariah Carey (19)

Rihanna (14)

Drake (13)

Michael Jackson (13)

Madonna (12)

The Supremes (12)

Whitney Houston (11)

Janet Jackson (10)

Taylor Swift (10)

Stevie Wonder (10)

The Fab Four

The early Beatles pose together wearing suits.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

You can read more about the Beatles, also known as The Fab Four, at Britannica!

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Word of the Day

retrospection

Part of speech:
noun
Definition:

 : the act of thinking about the past or something that happened in the past

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