OneRepublic’s New Song “A.I.” Featuring Peter Gabriel Is As Confusingly Mediocre As the Movie ‘A.I.’
Kubrick didn't die for this.
Ryan Tedder is truly the Steven Spielberg of music. He shows up to a song and adds the barest hints of his brand to claim credit and then creates family-friendly consumer products as his main gig in OneRepublic. In that sense, Peter Gabriel is the Stanley Kubrick of music, objectively better than Tedder and uncompromising on all fronts. He left his soon-to-be-stupidly-famous band Genesis to defend his artistic integrity and ended up being one of the few people to have Kate Bush bless their music with her presence multiple times. Also, Peter Gabriel's last name is that of a biblical angel and Genesis' name is in Neon Genesis Evangelion, the anime which has bad guys named "Angels." Crazy stuff. Anyhow, it would only make sense that the meeting of both Gabriel and Tedder would end up being called "A.I." It's the same name as 2001's A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the only joint film between Kubrick and Spielberg and it's as much of an oddly fascinating, vaguely unsatisfying mess.
A.I. the movie begins with an incredibly boring sequence where William Hurt dryly explains how the movie's life-like robots work (they're called "Mecha" because fuck anime) instead of letting the setting show us those mechanics. "A.I." the song mirrors this obvious intro by opening with a synth that sounds like a deflating balloon that is quickly overtaken by a limp disco beat. A.I. actually gets going once we're introduced to the main character David, a cute mecha kid played by future Kingdom Hearts hero Haley Joel Osment. He's programmed to love his adoptive mother but his actual human brother, Martin, is an enormous dick to him because David is really fucking creepy to be around. Ryan Tedder sings "my hope and my fear is human interaction / I just want my love automatic / if artificial love makes sense" in "A.I." so perhaps Tedder and David aren't too dissimilar after all. Both are adorable and almost impossible to recognize as human, as shown below.
Eventually, David's mother dumps him in the woods and he ends up captured and taken to a Mecha demolition derby of sorts where he meets Jude Law's character, a flamboyant and somewhat homophobically caricatured Mecha sex worker named Gigolo Joe. David and Joe escape from the clutches of the derby staff and industrial legends Ministry(?) and instead of trying to find a way back to civilization, they go on a quest to find the fairy from Pinocchio so that she can grant David's wish to become human. The movie's abrupt shift from Kubrick's tense psychological drama to Spielbergian fantasy-adventure is replicated in OneRepublic's song as Peter Gabriel suddenly appears and his ghostly voice begins singing about soft skin and how no emotion "really make[s] my head spin." We've truly entered whimsical territory here!
The endings of both works are the exact same thing: inchoate, faux-profound, and slow-as-shit. David ends up trapped in an ice age in Manhattan (don't ask) and a 2,000-year-long time skip is really boringly narrated. David is thawed out by the Mecha, who have all evolved into Windows ClipArt people. He's then taken to a replica of his old home and he spends the day with a clone of his mom, who for some reason has to die that same night. And then David sleeps. Or shuts down. It's not really clear, it's anticlimactic, and the whole thing probably should have ended sooner. OneRepublic's "A.I." actually straight-up stops playing for several seconds only for Gabriel to float back in and moan over a synth pad for a minute and a half before teetering off. Anyways, let's not listen to this turd again and let's all sit back and watch Peter Gabriel and Genesis perform all 24 minutes of their apocalyptic prog-rock masterpiece, "Supper's Ready."
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