At the Billboard awards show over the weekend, Michael Jackson performed as a hologram. That is a sentence we now say and it is true. Jackson's hologram sang along to a newly-released song, "Slave to the Rhythm," the latest off his posthumous album Xscape. The spectacle was all anyone could talk about that night, the next day, and probably for a while to come.
So maybe holograms are ushering in a new form of live entertainment?
To be fair, one of the first (if not the first) live hologram performances was back in 2007, when Celine Dion was "joined" onstage by none other than the King of Rock and Roll. Together, Elvis Presley and Celine Dion "performed" the 1968 Presley song "If I Can Dream."
But holograms weren't really talked about again until 2012, when one in Tupac Shakur's likeness made an appearance at a 2012 festival with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.
Reactions to Tupac's performance were divided, with some wondering if this new technology was cool or just plain creepy. For some, the fact that these holograms effectively bring artists — like Tupac and MJ — back from the dead is just too much. For others, the idea of jamming to a digital artist just seems bizarre. But is it really?
After all, people were impressed when the holographic technology was used to bring two currently-living pop stars together, as was the case when M.I.A. and Janelle Monae did a bi-coastal performance last year.
And, for as many people who were bothered or put off by the MJ performance, just as many were moved, astonished, and enthralled. When we asked some of the TicketNetwork.com fans if they'd see a hologram perform, some said yes, especially for greats like Elvis or Freddie Mercury. (We're thinking the demand would be huge for Nirvana's frontman, Kurt Cobain, too.)
As hologram performances become more popular, they will undoubtedly shed that "creep" factor all together, and likely take on a life of their own. Take a look at Lady Gaga's opening act, Hatsune Miku — a 16-year-old girl with turquoise pigtails who is a hologram.
Seriously. Hatsune Miku kicked off Gaga's ARTPOP Ball on May 6, and will continue to perform with her through June 3. For Gaga, the fact that Miku is a hologram ain't no thang. In a Google+ post promoting the upcoming artRave Tour, Gaga simply referred to Miku as her "favorite digital pop star" and said, "Look at how cute she is!"
Eventually, we will probably all be singing and dancing along with holograms and not bat an eye. While normal artists are bound by the limits of the human body — they can't perform every night, for example — these holograms will never, ever get tired. They'll also always sound great (they are a recording, after all), and they're crazy marketable. The future is here, man.
Would you see a hologram perform live?