YouTuber Ruins Johnny Cash With AI Cover of ‘Barbie Girl’

You gotta hear this…

As Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie is set to hit theatres this weekend, a cover of Aqua’s 1997-hit “Barbie Girl” by the late Johnny Cash is racking up views on YouTube — except that’s not Johnny Cash.

A YouTuber with a channel called “There, I Ruined It” -Dustin Ballard uses an augmented version of his voice by an AI voice model to sing his creations.

The video, which also mashes up “Wannabe” by Spice Girls and “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus with Cash’s signature style, was posted to Ballard’s channel, “There I Ruined It,” and has racked up more than 650,000 views. Ballard says his channel — conceived “in a moment of musical boredom” during the COVID-19 pandemic — is dedicated to taking beloved songs and “lovingly” destroying them by changing the genre and melody, but keeping the lips synched to the words. 

Early examples of his work include Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” as an old-fashioned swing tune or a honky-tonk version of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. 

The technology gives content creators a fun and exciting opportunity to express themselves, but it has also started a debate over legal issues involving intellectual property rights and copyright law. 

An AI-generated song simulating Drake and The Weeknd’s voices and styles went viral in April before it was removed from several major streaming platforms over copyright concerns. The song, “Heart on My Sleeve,” spotlighted how copyright law may apply and evolve in response to rapidly advancing AI.