We live in confusing times, and the diffusion of the once omnipresent monoculture means our entertainment media is fractured into hundreds if not thousands of small subcultures. Gone are the days of one dominant music act like the Beatles or Michael Jackson dominating the narrative. Now, it’s entirely possible for a wildly successful act like, say, Machine Gun Kelly or Saweetie to become absurdly popular within one subculture while the broader mainstream has no clue who they are. All that is to say, don’t feel bad if you haven’t yet heard of the latest Gospel music sensation J.C. For one thing, our fractal mess of subcultures means no one person can hear about every exciting new musical artist. For another thing, J.C. isn’t real.
Not real in the way we think of it anyway. J.C. is an AI-generation Gospel artist, built entirely out of 1s and 0s by Marquis Boone Enterprises in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a photo of “him.”
The press release says J.C. was designed to be a “forefront runner in the Metaverse on Meta” and if your brain is already feeling a little wobbly you may want to back out now, because we’ve already got J.C.’s first single. It is, as far as we know, the first Gospel song written by an algorithm, recorded by an algorithm and preformed by, that’s right, an algorithm. It’s called “Biblical Love,” and the press release says it is “about unquantifiable love beyond description or measure – a love of biblical proportions that transcends to everyone and everything!”
We hope you meta enjoy it.
Church music has a long and fascinating history that spans eons and empires. It would be fascinating to run this digital creation of J.C.’s back to Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley or Fanny Crosby and get a few notes on the line “don’t come up against yourself when demons in your head get loud” but, alas, time travel technology doesn’t exist. All we have is this technology.
It’s not a new technology. Music labels in places like China have been experimenting with A.I.-pop stars for years, with some huge success. In the pop sphere, the novelty is easy to understand. We already treat pop stars like cartoons who exist entirely for our enjoyment, so why not just take the obvious step and make just such a cartoon? No huge loss there.
In a way, it’s not surprising. So much of the modern Christian worship industrial complex is already fueled by market tested formulas that it’s probably no enormous loss to cut out the middle man and just let a slightly modified calculator do the work. With A.I, there are no complicated egos, no messy spiritual deconstruction process, no doubts and, of course no career-jeopardizing scandals. All you’ve got is all the modern worshiptainment biz really needs: a pretty chorus, a few Bible-y buzzwords and a passably diverting emotional high.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.