Christmas carols get butchered by AI

How's this for lyrics? "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, was the best sleigh in all of Nantucket..."

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read

Computers may be replacing a whole lot of human jobs, but we don't think they're quite ready for writing songs for the holidays. A research scientist trained her neural network on 240 different Christmas carols to see what the artificial intelligence system could learn about the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. She asked it what comes after the line "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and it responded with several renditions, including one that started off like this:

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, with its red belly
The All-gracious King of all the earth,
Had a baby at Christmas time, On Christmas Day,
A true and holy Deity, Went down to earth,
With human flesh for sacrifice...

Research scientist Janelle Shane also asked her neural network to produce an original carol. The AI seemed to focus on the commercialism of the holiday, writing a song about buying a yacht "now."

"I can't tell whether it has misunderstood what Christmas carols are all about, or understood some of them only too well," she wrote in a blog post Tuesday about her experiment. 

Shane, who last Christmas created AI-generated names for Christmas cookies -- it came up with "Merry Hunga Poppers," "Grandma's Spritches" and "Apricot Dream Moles" -- has also produced pickup lines using AI. The researcher has been using self-learning neural networks, which are modeled on the human brain and are able to determine individual rules and responses after being fed and trained on large amounts of data.

She previously used them to generate superhero names ("Superbore" and "Red Fart"), new phrases for Valentine's Day candy hearts ("sweat poo," love 2000 hogs yeah" and "stank love") and new Dungeons and Dragons creatures and spells (like "Summon Ass" and "Shield of Farts").

Last minute Christmas gift ideas

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