Somehow, perhaps by some cosmic intervention, I haven’t gotten tired of hearing Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” on the radio. Apparently, I’m not the only one because tens of thousands of people have gone to the effort of making covers of the song and uploading them to YouTube. In celebration of its music video passing 1 billion views, YouTube and Google Creative Lab have turned all of those covers into an interactive AI experiment. “Infinite Bad Guy,” which YouTube calls “the world’s first infinite music video,” collects thousands of covers and blends them together, using machine learning to align each one within quarter-beats of the original.
Going to billie.withyoutube.com pulls up the original “Bad Guy” music video with cover videos on either side, set against a background of hundreds of tiny video thumbnails floating around a black void. When you click over from one video to another, the second will pick up on the same beat the first left off on. Pausing pulls up stats about how many covers you’ve watched and how many times you’ve played through a full loop of the song. When the song reaches the drop at the bridge, the color of the interface turns from green to red.
The fun thing is that they’ve also curated different tags that you can browse. There are predictable keywords like guitar, choir, and signing (for sign language covers) as well as some funkier selections like ASMR, cat, and… toy chicken? As I clicked around, I became less interested in the actual song and more in the variety of instruments, genres, and goofs.
It’s a cool premise, though not quite seamless. When I tried it out, there was a bit of a lag as each video loaded, so it doesn’t exactly satisfy the craving for a fluid DJ mix. Differences in quality are particularly evident when covers are played back to back — out of thousands of covers, not all of them are going to be good covers. Some of the “covers” are actually just homemade music videos set to the original audio. There also isn’t audio leveling from one video to the next, so you may end up fiddling with your volume as you travel through the playlist.
Despite some clunkiness, it’s an engaging way to spend a few minutes away from the usual algorithms. I recommend you experience it yourself and see how many melodica solos you can get through before you close your browser.
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