Holly Herndon Drops an AI Deepfake Cover of 'Jolene'

Holly Herndon Drops an AI Deepfake Cover of 'Jolene'

The everlasting Dolly Parton classic, "Jolene," is a record that has been covered countless times. From Miley Cyrus to The White Stripes to even Lil Nas X, artists across genres have released their own renditions of the heartbreak anthem over the years. However, you've probably never heard of an artificial intelligence lending its digital pipes to the country ballad.

Experimental electronic composer Holly Herndon returns today with her own cover of "Jolene" made with the help of her AI-powered vocal deepfake, Holly+. The stripped-down cover was made by feeding a modified score into Holly+ with new harmonies. The result was then generated into Herndon's own voice. Featuring additional accompaniment by Ryan Norris on guitar, the cover is truly impressive in its uncanny likeness, being able to seamlessly reproduce Herndon's dynamic vocal range without wavering.

Embracing the era of deepfakes rather than being disenfranchised by it, Holly+ is the latest tool developed by Herndon and her collaborators to allow other artists to upload their own audio and receive a download of that track sung by the digital avatar. Herndon first showed off the capabilities of Holly+ in a TED Talk last month, underscoring the importance of artists owning their own intellectual property in the age of artificial intelligence. Working sort of as a proof of concept, Herndon's Holly+-assisted cover of "Jolene" proposes a new way for artists to experiment, remix and play with pre-existing material while circumventing copyright infringement lawsuits that would otherwise squash creativity.

Holly+ isn't Herndon's first foray into working with artificial intelligence to make music. 2019's PROTO introduced the world to her AI baby, Spawn, whom Herndon and her compatriots spent three years training and developing prior to the album's release. Using a mixture of sample-based and modeling techniques to bring Spawn's voice to life, the record showcased the creative potential of a world where musicians and technology could live in harmony.

Check out Holly Herndon's cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" below and check out all that you can do with Holly+ here.

Photography: Team Rolfes