Musicians We Can Hologram: Kurt Cobain? Elvis? Eazy E? Biggie?
Tupac Hologram: The Floodgates Are Open
The horse has fled the barn: the Tupac hologram at Coachella 2012 has proven that a lifelike concert projection of a dead musician is viable. Not perfect, not entirely un-creepy, but viable.
- Tupac Hologram to Tour with Dr. Dre
- Tupac Hologram at Coachella 2012: How Did They Do It?
- Tupac Shakur Hologram Video from Coachella
Whereas earlier attempts at holograms have more or less worked, they were static, background affairs. The Tupac hologram, though, could actually work the stage. Fans went ballistic, and as we all know, rewarded behavior is repeated.
Surely concert promoters are licking their chops at the possibilities of hologram-driven shows, let's not kid ourselves about that.
So, which dead musician is next?
Musicians We Could Bring Back
Let's take a quick look at some of our favorite musicians who are no longer with us. Whether or not we could successfully bring them back would depend on a few factors:
- Is there enough archival footage to build a realistic concert-worthy hologram?
- Do fans think of the artist in the present-tense?
- Does their appearance require them to hold anything?
- Is there someone close to the performer who is available to help the technical team fine-tune the projection? The mannerisms and quirks are what sell it: the audience loved the Tupac hologram not just because it looked like Tupac, but because it moved like Tupac. (This is also what made it so creepy.)
The musicians who spring immediately to mind are:
- Kurt Cobain: This one seems a no-brainer, but probably wouldn't work. Kurt Cobain's fans are pretty settled with the idea of his being dead, and resurrection for a tour would fly in the face of Cobain's worldview, particularly the fact that he quite deliberately killed himself.
- Jimi Hendrix: The guitar is problematic. Jimi Hendrix is best known (duh) as a guitarist, so he'd have to play a ghost guitar. This probably wouldn't sell, aesthetically speaking. Suspending a real guitar and projecting Hendrix around it would just look silly.
- Notorious B.I.G.: Yes. As with Tupac, his fans are still engaged in his story; his murder remains (publicly) unsolved. There are no real obstacles to a Biggie hologram that haven't been tackled by the Tupac hologram.
- Eazy E: Yes. Another Dre collaborator as well. A true NWA reunion is once again possible.
- Nina Simone: It would be awesome to resurrect the High Priestess of Soul. The only problem would be that she couldn't play piano. Kind of a big compromise. How cool would it be, though, to show up at a tiny Paris café, and there's Nina Simone? The answer: very cool.
- Freddie Mercury: a 2D hologram wouldn't suit a pan-dimensional rock diety like Freddy Mercury, but that's not stopping the producers of We Will Rock You, who are indeed preparing to stage a Freddy Mercury illusion of some kind.
- Keith Moon: No, because of the whole instrument thing. Keith Moon was a legendary drummer, but a ghost on ghost drums would just seem too weird and distracting. Sorry, London 2012, Keith Moon is dead.
- Jam Master Jay: Again, the instrument thing. A holographic DJ can't really DJ. Fans would probably reject it in performance, even if it seemed like a good idea beforehand.
- Richey Edwards: The rhythm guitarist and songwriter for Manic Street Preachers disappeared in 1995: he may not even be dead. The trick here would be to project him somewhere other than onstage. Manic Street Preachers are touring Europe in April-May 2012, their first such tour in a decade. A ruthless marketer would project Richey Edwards a day or two beforehand in the city the Manic Street Preachers are about to visit.
- Frank Sinatra: This has already been done, actually, in 2003.
- Elvis Presley: Also, already been done. Now, though, Elvis could do year-round residencies in Vegas. An entire career retrospective in one show, complete with morphing clothes, hair, age, and weight. In 2007, a holo-Elvis performed with Celine Dion for American Idol (yes, this is basically kicking music in the groin), and Elvis holograms have already made many concert appearances. Also, the continued success of Elvis impersonators proves the viability of the Elvis-resurrection market.
Alternately, and I'm just throwing this out there, we can let our musical heroes rest in peace, and simply enjoy their legacy.
Tupac Shakur: We Just Can't Let Go
The bedrock of this issue isn't money-hungry producers (though that's part of it), but us, the music fans. We can't let go.
We have Tupac issues, in ways that we do not have issues with other deceased artists.
It's not just that Tupac Shakur is dead, he was murdered. It's not just that he was murdered, but that he was murdered at 25; and that the murder is unsolved. Tupac still had so much potential, at that haunts us, because for every Tupac or Biggie, there's another young person out there taken before his or her time, someone who could have done so much more, if only given the chance.
A hologram (or whatever you choose to call it) isn't the answer: all the bespoke CGI in the world won't make it anything more than a recording. The hologram can never fulfill the real artist's potential.