Whitney Houston hologram to haunt Las Vegas with new residency
It's not right, but it's… actually, no, it's just not right.
Whitney, we will always love you… but not like this.
Billed as An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Concert, the residency, beginning Oct. 26, will feature a holographic recreation of Houston "performing" alongside a live band, backup singers, and dancers, accompanied by "cinematic special effects," according to a press release. The concert will include such classic hits as "I Will Always Love You," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," and "The Greatest Love of All," among others.
"In 2011, Whitney and I discussed her idea of an intimate, unplugged concert tour. It was a project we called Whitney Unplugged or An Evening With Whitney," Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law and CEO of her estate, said in a statement. "While Whitney's no longer with us, her voice and legacy will live on with us forever. An Evening With Whitney is another chance for us to relive and celebrate the talent that we were so lucky to receive for more than three decades, and we're excited to bring this cutting-edge musical experience to the fans who supported the pop culture phenomenon that was Whitney Houston, because they deserve nothing less."
Truth is, they might deserve something more. Reviewing the touring version of the concert for EW in February 2020, Emma Madden wrote, "This could never be mistaken for a live Whitney Houston show. With tacky and outdated graphics — blue smoke, clouds, thunder, flames — the design and production value was more befitting of a cruise ship singer than one of the greatest performers of all time."
Madden went on to call the tour "a successful misremembering of the late Grammy winner," claiming that "the hologram projected a fantasy of a woman unmarred by fame, abuse, drugs, the pressure to uphold an unstable vision of perfection. It was everything we wanted Whitney to be, as we temporarily allowed ourselves to forget the consequences of such eulogistic thinking."
VFX company BASE Hologram is behind this, um, experience, having also masterminded holographic recreations of Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly.
"Whitney Houston was a talent beyond words, and her influence and artistry transcended all boundaries," CEO Brian Becker said in a statement. "What we are creating here is a new theatrical concert experience designed to capture that magic."
"When she performed, there was an unmatched level of charisma and emotion to it. That's what we're bringing to audiences," Becker continued.
Madden would beg to differ. "While the hologram has some of the visual cues of Houston — flailing her handkerchief around, tapping at her hips with a syncopated rhythm — it wasn't as visibly possessed by her own music as she was," she wrote in her review. "During her live shows, Whitney was enraptured. Her eyes were often closed as though she was in communion with God. None of that spiritual ecstasy was present during the Sheffield set. Meanwhile, scattered applause from the audience accompanied the end of each song, while one man jokingly screamed 'Get off the stage!' to the unresponsive hologram just before her rendition of 'I Will Always Love You.'" Ouch.
Still, Becker insists, "It's an honor to be able to help add to her legacy with this project and present her incomparable talent in a way that will resonate with longtime fans and new generations alike. If you were lucky to see Whitney perform live, this is an opportunity to see her again. If you weren't so lucky, this is the closest you may ever get to experiencing what it was like."
Besides, you know, watching one of the countless amazing videos of the actual diva performing live or something.
Tickets for An Evening with Whitney go on sale at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on Friday.