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AI correctly predicts Grammys 2019 song of the year

DataRobot's machine learning model successfully predicted Childish Gambino's triumph at the the 61st Grammy Awards, demonstrating AI's music industry "potential"

By Jon Chapple on 11 Feb 2019

Childish Gambino, Governors Ball 2017

Childish Gambino performs in 2017

image © DeShaun Craddock

American data scientists correctly predicted Childish Gambino’s song of the year win at the 61st Grammy Awards, held at Staples Center in Los Angeles last night (10 February).

Using its machine learning platform, Boston, Massachusetts-based DataRobot analysed all Grammy song of the year winners since 1959, identifying common traits – including the genre of the song, amount of profanity, general sentiment, total word count and various audio features derived from Spotify, such as tempo, time signature, key and duration – to determine this year’s most likely victor.

After six minutes, during which the artificial intelligence (AI) generated 140 data models, DataRobot’s Taylor Larkins established the best model, which “performed about 44% better than randomly guessing during my testing period [from 2012–2018],” he explains.

“Machine learning … can have applications well beyond the traditional ones we are used to seeing in fields such as banking or insurance”

This model correctly predicted Gambino’s ‘This is America’ as most likely song of the year candidate, with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s ‘Shallow’, from A Star is Born, as a close runner-up (screenshot courtesy of DataRobot):

DataRobot Grammy 2019 predictions

“With this experiment, we’re demonstrating that machine learning cannot only be fun but can also have applications well beyond the traditional ones we are used to seeing in fields such as banking or insurance,” explains Larkin.

“The music industry could tap into its potential, studying what makes a song successful and understanding why people listen to the songs that they do. With the volume of great music being produced, having quick insights into song popularity could be another tool to help musicians and music producers to refine their expertise.”

Kacey Musgraves won the Grammy for album of the year, for Golden Hour, with Dua Lipa taking home the prize for best new artist. Gaga and Cooper’s ‘Shallow’, meanwhile, won best pop duo/group performance.

See the full list of winners at the Recording Academy website.


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