The Michael Jackson hologram just performed at the Billboard Music Awards, and reaction has been largely positive. Words like "stunning," "amazing" and "just as confusing and uncomfortable as we imagined" were used (I said it was "largely positive," not entirely positive).
Holo-Jackson is just the latest hologram to achieve prominence. But is it the best? Here's how he stacks up against other holograms, ranked from worst to first:
4. Holo-Yellin and Holo-Will.i.am
On election night in 2008, CNN thought it would be a good idea to have a hologram version of correspondent Jessica Yellin beam into Wolf Blitzer's studio. Holo-Will.i.am joined a clearly uncomfortable Anderson Cooper later than night. It was not a good idea. It was weird, pointless and distracting and we all made fun of CNN for a long time afterwards.
Sorry, Billboard. I know you worked on this thing for half a year, but it wasn't quite there yet. I have a feeling it looked much cooler to the live audience, but up close on screen you could really see how weird and videogame-y it looked. Plus the audio wasn't in sync with the video, adding another layer of unrealism.
Tupac Shakur came back from the dead (if he is actually dead) in hologram form in 2012 for Coachella. It was pretty good! And his abs looked better than ever. The company that did this was acquired by another company, which then sued Billboard for using its hologram tech to create Holo-Jackson. (The suit was dismissed, but not before it ruined what was supposed to be a surprise Michael Jackson performance.)
1. Jem and the Holograms
Jerrica's father died and left her a computer than could make the most convincing holograms this side of the Holodeck. They were so convincing that Jerrica's own boyfriend was kind of cheating on her with her hologram-enhanced version, which was Jerrica but with different hair and makeup. She then used that amazing technology to become a famous singer. But in a world where rival bands actually try to kill each other (the Misfits were awesome and their songs were better, but they were also psychopaths), I guess you take any edge you can get.