The Beatles releasing a new song definitely wasn’t on our 2023 bingo card, but the release of ‘Now and Then’ will surely go down as one of the most memorable pop culture moments of the year.
The song, which took over 50 years to be completed, was brought to life with the help of a software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team, and features all four Beatles.
It’s been a week since the ‘Now and Then’ music video was released, so let’s take a look at how the Beatles’ final single has been received.
The Ringer notes that ‘Think about me every now and then, old friend,’ were John Lennon’s last words to Paul McCartney, which adds some depth to the song’s title. Despite the fact that both John Lennon and George Harrison are no longer with us, the song itself is a true collaboration between the four, incorporating ‘Lennon’s singing, Harrison’s 1995 guitar work, harmonies sampled from Beatles songs of the ’60s, new recordings by McCartney and Starr, and additional orchestration.’
However, the Peter Jackson directed music video has received mixed reviews, with one YouTube commenter referring to it as ‘horrifically bad’, and ‘distasteful’, expressing dislike for the ‘ai corpse puppetry’. Another commenter called the video, ‘A bit of a Frankenstein’. Other comments were more positive, with many sharing their deep emotional responses. One commenter wrote, ‘I can't watch without breaking down in tears. This is truly emotional.’ Another said, ‘There is some real Beatle magic in here.’
Although there are noticeable critiques of both the song and the video, the fan opinion is overwhelmingly positive. After all, this is The Beatles we’re talking about. The New York Times writes:
‘Over half a century since the Beatles split up, their songs still permeate our lives. We sing them in nurseries and in stadiums; we cry to them at weddings and funerals and in the privacy of our bedrooms.’
Aside from opinions on the artistic qualities of the song and video, ‘Now and Then’ wouldn’t exist without the AI software that enabled Lennon’s vocals to be isolated from the original demo and incorporated into the final track.
YouTuber Rick Beato explored this technology in more detail. Beato explains that although he loves that this track has been made possible, ‘Maybe sometimes things are better left undone.’ He believes that the vocals and instrumentation are mismatched, with the bass, drums and guitar sounding too modern when paired with Lennon’s original vocals.
YouTuber Anthony Fantano also reviewed the track, stating that many are focusing on the AI aspect of the new song in order to generate buzz, rather than concentrating on the music itself. After listening to the track, Fantano said ‘I don’t care for this. I don’t care for the way they did it.’ However, he adds that John Lennon’s voice is the best thing about the track.
Criticism aside, this is a momentous part of Beatles history. For seasoned fans, ‘Now and Then’ is special because it triggers a sense of nostalgia, and for others, it is a novelty to be alive at a time in history when The Beatles have released a new song. In fact, this ‘last song’ from the Fab Four has managed to break a new record: since the track reached No 1 on the charts, the Beatles are now the artists with the longest gap between No 1 singles in history. For Beatles’ fans of all ages, it’s a sentimental moment, and one that might never come again.
Feel free to share your thoughts on ‘Now and Then’ with us on social media, we’d love to hear from you – and don’t forget to check out our Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite print.
Image credit: WingNut Films Productions via ABC News.