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I asked ChatGPT to write the next Eurovision entry… but was it good?

Nikkie Thorpe

Over here at BestNewBingoSites, we’re big fans of Eurovision – we’ll be hosting our own Eurovision parties and fangirling wildly – but even we have to admit that the songs featured in the contest can be a little bit formulaic. While a few acts have truly surprised us over the years, we can all make a reasonably good guess at the themes of the lyrics and the type of music we will be hearing. There are some tropes that are so common, you could easily mark them all off on a Eurovision bingo card.

ChatGPT is generating all kinds of controversy, but little is generating as much ire as its use in songwriting. Iconic musician Nick Cave recently said that ChatGPT songwriting is ‘a grotesque mockery of what it means to be human’. Many musicians appear to agree with Cave, feeling that using ChatGPT to write songs is ‘cheating’ in some way, though there are a few who feel it could be used as a tool to improve songwriting; notably, the group Blossoms used AI to help them write their song ‘Your Girlfriend’.

With both these topics in mind, we decided to first ask ChatGPT to write us the next Eurovision song contest entry for the UK, and then explore whether what it produced was a good fit for the contest.

The prompt

Write the next Eurovision UK entry song.

ChatGPT screen generating the lyrics of 'Rise Above'.

The song

Title: “Rise Above”

Verse 1:

I’ve been lost, I’ve been broken

Felt the weight of the world on my shoulders

But I won’t give up, I won’t give in

I’ll find the strength to begin again



We’ll rise above the darkness

And we’ll light up the night

Together we’ll break free

And we’ll shine so bright


Verse 2:

There’s a fire inside us

Burning brighter than the sun

We’ll let it guide us

Until the battle’s won



We’ll rise above the darkness

And we’ll light up the night

Together we’ll break free

And we’ll shine so bright



It’s time to break the chains

And leave the past behind

We’ll spread our wings and fly

With a new hope in our minds



We’ll rise above the darkness

And we’ll light up the night

Together we’ll break free

And we’ll shine so bright



We’ll rise above it all

And we’ll never fall

Our spirit’s unbreakable

We’ll conquer it all.

The analysis

An analysis of every song entered into the contest between its inception in 1956 and 2019 revealed that the two most common words were ‘love’ (though this was split between the English word and the French word, ‘amour’) and ‘life’. ‘Love’ has been the most commonly-used word in Eurovision lyrics in 6 out of the 7 decades in which the contest has existed! This isn’t particularly surprising, given that love is arguably the most unifying factors in existence: we all experience love in some way.

Dr Joe Bennett, an expert on the psychology of songwriting, argues that Eurovision entries’ lyrics tend to fit into six broad categories: Love, Unity, Self-Assertion, Partying, History and Music. In his analysis, love songs account for about 69% of all entries, and around 83% of entries placing within the top 3! It’s interesting, then, that ChatGPT did not write an unambiguous love song here. Instead, its output fits most comfortably within Dr Bennett’s category of self-assertion: the lyrics deal with overcoming difficulties and finding strength.

Still, the themes of rising above, overcoming hardship and finding strength in the face of serious tribulations do gel well with Eurovision’s typical fare. 2014’s winner, Rise Like a Phoenix by Conchita Wurst, is perhaps the strongest example of this theme, with lyrics including: ‘Rise like a phoenix/ Out of the ashes/ Seeking rather than vengeance, retribution/ You were warned/ Once I’m transformed, once I’m reborn’.

Eurovision song contest stage featuring Ukranian flag filling up the letter 'V'

However, these categories don’t always fit neatly. Sam Ryder’s ‘Spaceman’, 2022’s runner-up and recently crowned as the UK’s favourite Eurovision entry ever, arguably fits the theme of self-assertion in the sense that self-discovery – which ‘Spaceman’ deals with in its story of a person floating in space, realising that what they really want is back on Earth – is necessary before self-assertion (‘I know what I want!’) can occur. ‘Spaceman’ therefore straddles the line between classic love song (its subject is pining for the lover they left behind on Earth) and self-assertion (its subject realising that what they really want is to be with their lover). 

This is a great example of how good songwriting can be complex and multi-layered, and therein lies the problem for AI songwriting. What ChatGPT can’t do – as Nick Cave says – is inflect the lyrics it generates with real human emotions. Much of the most well-regarded songwriting is attributed to its writer’s deep emotional connection to the material.

While the lyrics ChatGPT has provided are pleasant enough, they are undoubtedly generic. This isn’t inherently a bad thing – lots of the most popular music in existence could be considered generic, as its aim is to appeal to as many people as possible – but it does mean that it is unlikely to ever reach the heights of well-regarded songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney or Taylor Swift. Those frequently named among the greatest songwriters of all time all share one thing in common: raw human emotion.

Even ChatGPT itself seems to know this is a problem. I asked it to critique the song it had produced, wondering whether it would recognise its own technical limitations. This was the reply I received:

“The song has a positive and uplifting message of overcoming adversity and finding strength within oneself. The chorus is catchy and easy to sing along to, with a memorable melody. The use of imagery in the lyrics, such as the fire burning inside, adds depth to the song.

On the other hand, the song does not have a strong narrative or storyline, which is a common feature in many successful Eurovision entries. It may also lack a distinctive sound or unique elements that make it stand out from other entries. Additionally, it would be beneficial to add more variation in the verses to keep the listener engaged throughout the entire song.

Overall, while the song has some strengths, it may need some revisions and fine-tuning to be a competitive entry in the Eurovision competition.”

ChatGPT critiquing the song 'Rise Above' that it wrote.

I noticed that ChatGPT mentioned the ‘memorable melody’, a part of the song that it obviously did not generate (though AI does have this capability), as a positive factor. Its other thoughts about the song’s strengths seem reasonable: fire imagery is a key motif in plenty of excellent songs, and the message is certainly in line with other uplifting, empowering anthems. 

However, its critique of its own limitations is the most interesting. It acknowleges the lack of a strong storyline or narrative; songwriting experts share a consensus that a song should tell a story in some way, however vague, and ChatGPT’s effort could certainly be called vague.

It also acknowledges the lack of variation in the verses, which links to the storytelling component. Verses are typically used to flesh out the events of the story, while the chorus usually focuses on the central emotion sparked by those events. The verses here narrate events in only the most abstract and general way. 

Lets compare ChatGPT’s first verse with ‘Spaceman’ and ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’’s first verses:

Spaceman – verse one Rise Like a Phoenix – verse one ChatGPT’s Rise Above – verse one
If I was an astronaut, I’d be floating in mid-air

And a broken heart would just belong to someone else down there

I would be the centre of my lonely universe

But I’m only human, and I’m crashing down to earth

Waking in the rubble

Walking over glass

Neighbors say we’re trouble

Well that time has passed

I’ve been lost, I’ve been broken

Felt the weight of the world on my shoulders

But I won’t give up, I won’t give in

I’ll find the strength to begin again


Both ‘Spaceman’ and ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ narrate clear and obvious events. ‘Spaceman’ has its protagonist speculating about what it would be like to be an astronaut in an obvious metaphor for feeling lost and disconnected, whereas ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ has its protagonist walking through rubble and glass – a clear sign of carnage and chaos – toward the more optimistic sentiments of the chorus. 

ChatGPT’s effort at a verse reads more like a chorus, focusing on the generic emotions of wanting to fight hard and never give up without ever outlining the struggles they’re trying to overcome. It lacks the understanding of building up a narrative to reach a peak of emotion that songwriters instinctively understand.

The verdict

I was quite surprised by how on-brand the lyrics sounded when ChatGPT first generated them. It very clearly captured the common Eurovision theme of self-assertion and used a lot of key words that tend to feature in songs of this type, even venturing into metaphor with the insertion of the fire imagery.

However, the more you look at it, the more shallow it seems. The song feels like it could have been written by anyone about anything, and that makes it feel somewhat empty: the lack of a clear storyline impacts on the listener’s level of engagement with the protagonist’s struggle. 

Chat GPT’s effort could probably just about pass muster in the Eurovision lineup, and may even be a good song if all the other components of excellent music were carefully plotted. However, we conclude that Chat GPT’s songwriting is missing the one thing it can never achieve: humanity.

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