A hologram of Michael Jackson performed at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night, marking the second time a dead musician has been resurrected by a visual effects company. Are holograms the future of musical performances?
So, the King of Pop performed at Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards. Yes, you heard us right and no, there’s not a new King of Pop who has finally claimed the late Michael Jackson’s crown. Michael Jackson himself performed on stage at the award show. Sort of. Before any of you start panicking that a bunch of necromancers organised the event, let’s clear something up. It was a hologram of Michael Jackson that took to the stage, and not the singer, who died in 2009 from a cardiac arrest.
A hologram of Jackson, dubbed the 'King of Pop' performed at Sunday night's Billboard Music Awards
The scarily realistic hologram performed Jackson’s song “Slave To The Rhythm,” taken from the upcoming posthumous album. The hologram, dressed in a gold jacket and red trousers, even performed Jackson’s signature moonwalk. This is not the first time that a hologram of a dead musician has performed at a large-scale event. Back in 2012 a hologram of rapper Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in 1996 aged 25 years old, performed onstage at Coachella Music Festival.
Created by a visual effects company called Digital Domain, the hologram of Shakur performed alongside rappers Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. The hologram was so successful that it was suggested that the two rappers tour with it, although this was turned down by Dr. Dre. We're sort of with Dre on this one, it would feel a bit like cashing in on something very unfortunate. Plus, we're pretty sure he doesn't need the money.
Both hologram performances were hugely successful, the Billboard audience was reported to have been very moved by Jackson’s digital performance, while the Tupac hologram was all that anybody could talk about for months after Coachella. We’re not entirely sure how we feel about the whole thing. There’s something a bit unsettling about resurrecting a dead musician for a performance. Sure, there’s plenty of performers we’d loved to have seen when they were alive, hundreds of groundbreaking gigs that we’d give our right arms to have been at, but that’s part of the reason that they were so extraordinary. Great performers and performances don’t come around all that often, that’s the magic of them.
A hologram of the rapper Tupac performed at Coachella festival in 2012
Next thing we know the entire of the 1969 Woodstock Festival will be simulated and holograms of the full The Beatles lineup will be touring the world. Where do we draw the line between going to see a performance by a real person and a hologram? Will there come a time when we are no longer concerned with the real thing and a hologram is sufficient?
What do you think of the whole hologram thing? Creepy or cool to get the opportunity to see one of the greats perform?