Rhyming is hard
5 min read

Rhyming is hard

Rhyming is hard
Original Lyrics  When I get older losing my hair Many years from now Will you still be sending me a Valentine Birthday greetings bottle of wine If I'd been out till quarter to three Would you lock the door Will you still need me will you still feed me When I'm sixty-four You'll be older too And if you say the word I could stay with you  AI Lyrics  To taste instructions preheat oven On medium high In a medium bowl combine flour and Dark brown sugar combine eggs and From the dry ingredients and beat Or beat for about Another couple minutes add the beet. In a medium And heavy saucepan Add egg yolks for about An uzbekistan

Although many people have generated AI poetry and lyrics, you’ll notice that they generally don’t rhyme. That’s because generating a decent rhyme is super hard.

You can get an inkling of this if you prompt the neural net GPT-2 with rhymes to complete. It will fail almost every time.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I want to eat french fries with my nice ham and cheese
I want to eat all the bacon I can get
I want to eat the fresh frozen clams
The reason I love your spice rack is because there's no place to hide
You got potatoes the size of postage stamps

In part, this is because English spelling is so nonuniform. How would a model trained on just written English know that it can rhyme throw with dough but not with brow? Not to mention stress patterns and syllable counts.

A few people have attempted to get neural nets to rhyme, and one of them is a new online demo by Prof. Mark Riedl of Georgia Tech. Give it example lyrics to a song - for example, the first two verses to the Gilligan’s Island theme - and it’ll try to fit the number of syllables and rhyming scheme, as well as take inspiration from a short phrase you supply.

Prompt: “If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake”
Tune: Gilligan’s Island theme

Original lyrics Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip That started from this tropic port Aboard this tiny ship.  The mate was a mighty sailing man, The skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.  AI lyrics A cake with one of my favorite
Italian ingredients
Including basil and walnut.
Easy ingredients. A cake with some of my favorite.
You might be coming and.
A cake that you have never had
With another cake 
you might be coming and.

Ok, but this is terrible. It’s TERRIBLE. One of the problems is a complete disregard for emphasis, making this inhumanly awkward to sing. It also does a rather cheap shortcut of rhyming words with themselves.

Prompt: “The mighty pudding god will devour you.”
Tune: Gaston’s Waltz from Beauty and the Beast

Original Lyrics: No one's slick as Gaston No one's quick as Gaston No one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston For there's no man in town half as manly Perfect, a pure paragon You can ask any Tom, Dick or Stanley And they'll tell you whose team they prefer to be on No one's been like Gaston A king pin like Gaston No one's got a swell cleft in his chin like Gaston As a specimen, yes, I'm intimidating My, what a guy, that Gaston  AI Lyrics  Is in the form of this Magical dragon cris And in the form of this magical dragon biss  You will be given a magical egg Other than this magical Dragon egg which is in the form of tegge Egg and also in the form of this magical  Egg in the form of chris'. Magical dragon fiss And magical eggs also in the form of chris' The magical egg was given by dr j By the name of alusuisse.

Here we are not only off-topic and awkward but absolutely bonkers. It has made the rather daring move of incorporating a reference to Alusuisse, which wikipedia informs me is a defunct Swiss chemical company. In fact, looking back over the program’s output, it made this decision when looking for a rhyme for “this”, and it skipped past “bliss”, “dismiss”, and “Chris” in favor of the former aluminum manufacturer. When choosing rhymes it scores potential words according to their similarity to the prompt, and there must have been something about Alusuisse that screamed “vengeful pudding god”.

Its syllable counting also breaks in weird ways.

Prompt: “Destroy all humans”
Tune: “Baa baa black sheep”

Original lyrics Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full! One for the master, And one for the dame, One for the little boy Who lives down the lane Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, Three bags full  AI version On august Sixteen seventeenth august The entire world Was changed forever. This would not have been so In history as It was in history. Seventeenth august In history. The august

Looking back over the logs, it did correctly count 11 syllables for “baa baa black sheep have you any wool.” But this AI is built of lots of carefully-coordinated sub-programs, each of which only does a small piece of the puzzle, and apparently the sub-program that was supposed to suggest 11-syllable lines shrugged and went “on…. august? that’s all i got”.

Prompt: I am a turnip
Tune: The wonderful thing about tiggers

Original version: The wonderful thing about tiggers Is tiggers are wonderful things! Their tops are made out of rubber Their bottoms are made out of springs! They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one  AI Version  In a long line you don't know who they Are until they can help you in. Also there is still alot to Know before they can help you in But not until they can help you out. And when they can help You out it is alot to know about them too. A Turnip hoowelp welp

This makes the world’s worst karaoke, and yes, Riedl has built a karaoke-making function for this. If you want to weird someone out, just casually sing a song with the AI lyrics instead of the real ones.

Botnik Studios also recently built a karaoke-generating algorithm (“The Weird Algorithm”) that instead of generating lines from scratch, picks them from some other source file, trying to match meter and rhyme. (for example, rewriting The Rainbow Connection with lines from X-files scripts). Here’s Jamie Brew demonstrating the system, including singing the lyrics as they pop up onscreen - if you tried to sing any of the lyrics above, you’ll know how darn impressive his singing is. Each line is independent, though, so if the song makes sense as a whole, it’s by accident.

So today’s AI can only sort of generate rhyming poetry. “Sigh. Natural language is hard,” Riedl tweeted, when he saw the Turnip hoowelp welp results. AI won’t be beating humans at rap battles anytime soon.

You can generate your own inadvisable karaoke using Riedl’s app.

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