Did you catch America’s Got Talent this week with its deep fake performance of Simon Cowell belting a love ballad? It fit the definition of shockingly great TV.
Cowell is one of four judges for the summer reality talent competition. And he was the one who quizzed a two-man Metaphysic team about what sort of act the pair was about to perform. If you’ve watched America’s Got Talent, you know you can see pretty much any kind of act. There could be the traditional, like dancing or singing. There are illusionists, comedians, acrobats and even sword swallowers. Anything goes.
But America’s Got Talent never had an act that relied on artificial intelligence creating a deep fake of someone else singing. Tuesday night definitely was a first. Contestants usually need a hook to catch a judge’s eye or ear. Metaphysic made it all about the toughest judge on the panel.
The act featured Tom Graham from Australia and Chris Ume from Belgium. Graham explained that because of the pandemic, the two had met in person only two days before the America’s Got Talent audition. Graham said the company uses AI “to create hyper real content.”
A Former America’s Got Talent Finalist Stepped to Stage
How real? Well Graham then welcomed Daniel Emmet to the stage. He’s an opera singer who made the finals of season 13 in 2018. Last time the America’s Got Talent audience saw Emmet, he was performing a duet with opera legend Placido Domingo.
But on Tuesday, Emmet used his big voice to sing Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.” Graham and Ume left the stage to hang with host Terry Crews as someone rolled in a big camera. The music started and the judges were stunned. The crowd gave a collective gasp. That’s because there was a giant screen above the stage. Everyone heard Emmet’s voice, but he had Simon Cowell’s face.
Cowell’s real face, not the deep fake one, told the story. He looked in awe and kind of bashful. There were times he hid his face. He was the first judge to stand and applaud. Everyone joined him.
“Is it inappropriate to fall in love with a contestant?” Cowell asked. “I know it’s strange, but I love you Daniel.”
“Simon, I love you, too.” Emmet replied. Then Cowell added: “I’ve always said is there such a thing as a perfect contestant — a great singer who looks incredible. We just found him.”
Judges Not Named Simon Also Loved the Performance
Heidi Klum, another America’s Got Talent judge, said “honestly, this is the best thing I’ve seen all day. … And because of you, I’m going to get five more wrinkles because I was laughing so much.” Fellow judge Sofia Vergara said of the deep fake “I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into making something so perfect. Because (if) I was not paying attention, then I see this on TV, I think it’s Simon. 20 years ago singing. I loved it.”
Howie Mandel was the first yes. “Don’t you love the fact that talent can be anything,” he said. “And you guys are pure talent, to make us smile and to make us laugh. That’s what we want from whomever stands on that X.”
Check out this performance from America’s Got Talent for yourself. It’ll be interesting to see how Metaphysic follows this up in the next round.