The thriller is not gone.
Michael Jackson, the deceased pop icon, will appear in the form of a holographic image during the telecast of the Billboard Music Awards on May 20. "You will see his hologram on Sunday night," said Paul Anka, who spoke to the Globe and Mail about Jackson and the late singer's hit single Love Never Felt So Good. The song, co-written by Anka and the King of Pop in 1983, appears on the just-released Xscape, a collection of reworked, previously unreleased material featuring Jackson's voice. (There are two versions of Love Never Felt So Good, one a disco-tinged cut with Jackson's vocals alone and another a more contemporary duet with Justin Timberlake.)
The official word from the Billboard Music Awards is that a "world premiere experience" involving Jackson will occur during the broadcast. Rumours regarding a hologram have swirled, but nothing as to the exact nature of Jackson segment has been confirmed by ABC or the show's producer, Dick Clark Productions.
The Ottawa-bred Anka, whose rose to fame as a crooning teen idol in the 1950s and later scored a hit with 1974's (You're) Having My Baby, is co-founder of Dilebrity Inc., a company (with offices in Los Angeles and Toronto) that is developing technology involved with the digital representation of celebrities, displayed as a holographic projection. "It's the future," says Anka, who prefers the trademarked term HumaGram to hologram. "As the technology is mastered, this kind of imagery is going to be a big part of the music business."
At the moment, the company is seeking relationships with the estates of famous people, with the aim of using digital likenesses for publicity or performance applications. "I'd love to get the Jimi Hendrix estate involved," said Anka. "I could see Jimi Hendrix in about eight major cities at once, in venues up to 800 people to watch him."
Dilebrity is not at all connected with the Billboard broadcast, but Anka has been involved with Jackson's posthumous career before. During the same 1983 sessions that produced Love Never Felt So Good, Anka and Jackson co-wrote the song This is It, released months after Jackson died in 2009.