Whitney Houston’s hologram is going on a world tour. Is nothing sacred?

This latest development sounds like it’s been lifted from a crass 1980s sci-fi film

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a light show, there'll be no rest for poor Whitney

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a light show, there'll be no rest for poor Whitney

 

Technology in music has proven to be a good – often great – thing, but the latest development sounds like it’s been lifted from a crass 1980s sci-fi film.

Holograms are not a particularly new development in music. Over the past few years, artists such as Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G. and Michael Jackson have been “brought back to life” using augmented reality. Their one-off performances have split opinion into “cool novelty” and “definitely creepy”, but it’s now been announced that as well as a hologram of Billie Holiday “starring” in a daytime show at New York’s Apollo Theatre later this year, a hologram of the late Whitney Houston will embark on a world tour next year.

These reanimated musical ghosts are the creation of Hologram USA, and Houston’s tour has been fully sanctioned by the president of her estate, her sister-in-law Pat Houston. Despite both parties stating the tour is an opportunity “to share her spectacular gifts with the world again”, it’s difficult to see how the idea will resonate with anyone other than their bank managers.

Apart from the obvious tackiness of exploiting a deceased singer in a way that goes further than the usual posthumous DVDs or Best Of collections, it raises questions about what audiences have come to expect of a live performance. Does spontaneity and atmosphere count for nothing? Isn’t a huge part of any successful gig due to the engagement between fan and artist? Where do you draw the line?

Having seen Houston play in Dublin two years before her death in 2010, it was clear that she was far from her best. Occasionally, she was great. Sometimes, it was sad to see how far she’d apparently fallen. But at least it was real, which is more than can be said for a money-spinning hologram that serves no musical or memorial purpose.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.