The 2014 Billboard Music Awards is a gentle reminder that dead pop musicians can raise eyebrows. A Michael Jackson hologram performed “Slave to the Rhythm,” a song off the Xscape album. From our seats we witness a restored Michael Jackson acting as a puppet to preserve the Legacy of the King of Pop. I don’t need the Xscape; MJ already made enough hits.
As a song, “Slave” is some middling dance tune about a woman having to escape the mundane world through the power of music. As a spectacle, the hologram performance is interesting but artificial. CGI Jackson was doing his Greatest Hits of Movements. Moonwalk, shoulder swerve, crotch grab. Check, check, check. The out-of-sync lip movements and dark red, non-spangly socks are a bit jarring.
Nostalgia is the catalyst for Big Music’s new hologram revolution. Remember the awe at Tupac? Remembering pop megastar Michael Jackson will generate sales for the young who aren’t exposed to his greatness. Before controversy consumed MJ, a new album release was a major event. That was a long time ago.
As a fan of his music, I feel a little uneasy about his posthumous work knowing he was a musical perfectionist. Newer fans might enjoy the slick outtakes. Then again, I’m still waiting for the Freddie Mercury/Queen & MJ songs to see the light of day. I’d rather leave how he’d get in the rhythm to my imagination. There are always peeks at a living, spontaneous MJ: Motown 25 or even (some of) his variety show stuff. Onto the Freddie hologram…