Sorry to harp on music one last time…
…but since last week I went on about the Vocaloid’s a thought it’d be only fair to bring up something interesting I found. In 2011 Ueki-loid was annouced. This Vocaloid uses the late singer, Hitoshi Ueki, as a voice provider. Contrary to what you might think, the YAMAHA didn’t have to a séance so they could raise the man’s spirit and record him – they simply recreated his voice from old recorded songs.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned before this year’s Coachella Music Festival had Tupac Shakur perform using a 3D projection. Afterwards, it was rumored that very-much-alive rappers Snoop Dogg and Doctor Dre would go on tour with “Tupac” using the same projection technique. The tour never happened but Dre does suggest that it could happen.
Some fans would love the prospect: “I would die if I can’t see dat n***a just once more. I remember when I went to see him at marin city festival back in 1989” - cody
But some isn’t everyone: “Tupac never consented to this - probably never even considered that this could become a possibility. By creating a realistic CG Tupac, they're able to turn a dead man into a money-making puppet.” – Kathryn Kramer
Either way, the fact that we can make performers sing and dance for us long after their singing and dancing days are over does raise a pretty big moral question: Should we? On the one hand, you could say that the fans would appreciate hearing the voices they’d never thought they’d hear again, that it would be a good way to introduce to the younger generation to music of the past, and that it’s no different that listening to the Beastie Boys or Michael Jackson on Spotify.
But you could also argue – and I’m going to argue – that it is fundamentally different in other ways. First, like Kramer states, no one can ask the dead permission to do anything. We have no idea if Tupac would’ve wanted his image used like it was at Coachella, or on a tour, or doing anything else like that where he's simply a manipulable computer program. But the cheering of old fans and the potential cash flow going to producers drowns out this question whenever it’s asked.
Next, I’m not sure if the copy can compete with the real thing. If you click the video above you'll hear comparisons between some of the Vocaloids and their voice providers. Sometimes it’s a miracle how the former came from the latter. You better believe they’ll be flame war after flame war in the Twitterverse if Aaliyah sounds even a decibel higher “live” than on her old tracks.
All and all, maybe some shows shouldn’t go on.