Did AI write this blog?

Recently, author Neil Gaiman posted on Mastodon a link to a blog titled “The 20 Best Lou Reed Songs of All Time” with this comment: “the first time I’ve read an article that I could swear was generated by AI. Whenever it actually describes the lyrical content of a song it’s either slightly wrong, very wrong, or so generalized as to be possibly talking about any possible song.”

I don’t know much about music, but I know a little about writing, so I was curious whether the form was as revealing as the substance. It was.

Here are the first two sentences about song No. 10: “How Do You Think It Feels” is a track from Lou Reed’s 1973 album “Berlin.” The song is a haunting ballad that explores themes of heartbreak, loneliness and despair.

Now song No. 11: “Disco Mystic” is a track from Lou Reed’s 1979 album “The Bells.” The song is a funky, upbeat track that features a driving bassline and infectious rhythm.

No. 12: “Ennui” is a track from Lou Reed’s 1974 album “Sally Can’t Dance.” The song is a laid-back, jazzy track that features a smooth saxophone solo and Reed’s trademark deadpan vocals.

No. 13: “Kicks” is a track from Lou Reed’s 1976 album “Coney Island Baby.” The song is a fast-paced, guitar-driven track that showcases Reed’s trademark snarling vocals.

I don’t know whether this unbylined blog was written by a computer or by a cat walking on a keyboard. But a human writer seems unlikely. In all my years of editing writers good and bad, I’ve never seen anyone use identical sentence structures on repeat. For every entry, the first sentence had as its subject either the song title, the words “the song” or a synonym, all followed by “is” then another synonym for “song,” often “track.” Then they repeat Lou Reed’s full name, followed by a year, followed by an album title.

At their heart, all 20 first sentences say, “The song is a song.” Here in my recent column is a closer look at why the writing seems not human, plus a look at how real, talented writers might do it.

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