Were you unsettled when you read that a Michael Jackson hologram was going to be performing at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night? Because it never seems quite right when deceased people are re-created to look real again? Well…your fears were confirmed.

A very, very human-looking “Jackson” was joined by a chorus of real (?) backup dancers as he performed the new tune “Slave to the Rhythm” from his recent posthumous album, “Xscape.” Jackson’s image was seen sitting on a throne, apparently part of the set decoration — then he started moving and you realized it was a hologram.

Dressed in red pants, white shirt, and gold and white striped jacket == with his hair pulled back while doing some complicated choreography — it looked incredibly real. Whether it was tears of joy upon seeing their favorite artist somehow back and performing, or tears of sadness because the image was so disturbing, some in the audience were crying. It was, in a word, upsetting.

The audience was cheering wildly, of course — though some could not figure out how to react. The camera panned to one group sitting there slack-jawed. A woman was shown wiping off tears streaming down her face. One guy was dancing, though.

The 2014 Billboard Music Awards featured nearly 20 performances Sunday, but the computer-generated Michael Jackson stole the show. The hologram performed "Slave to the Rhythm," off Jackson's posthumous album "Xscape." (Reuters)


Performances featuring deceased artists are not new, of course — a CGI/hologram-type Tupac was beamed into the Coachella music festival a couple of years ago. Celine Dion did a “duet” with Elvis awhile back on “American Idol.”  But the technology has come a long way, because even compared to those pretty recent examples, this seemed extremely real. Twitter reaction was mixed; some loved, some hated, some were crying, some were terrified. Other agreed it was pretty disturbing.

The hologram almost didn’t happen. According to the Los Angeles Times, a federal judge decided to allow the hologram at the last minute. The two companies behind the technology filed a lawsuit Thursday against the hologram, claiming that a competing business was using their product to create the spectacle.

List of televised Billboard Music Award winners:

Lana Del Rey “Born to Die”
Fall Out Boy “Save Rock and Roll”
Imagine Dragons “Night Visions” — winner
Lorde “Pure Heroine”
Mumford & Sons “Babel”

Top Billboard 200 Artist:
Luke Bryan
One Direction
Justin Timberlake — winner

Top New Artist:
Capital Cities
Ariana Grande
Lorde — winner

Top Country Artist:
Luke Bryan — winner
Florida Georgia Line
Darius Rucker
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift

Top Rock Song:
Capital Cities “Safe and Sound”
Imagine Dragons “Demons”
Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”
Lorde “Royals” — winner
Passenger “Let Her Go”

Top Female Artist:
Miley Cyrus
Katy Perry — winner

Top R&B Song:
Beyoncé feat. Jay Z “Drunk in Love”
Drake feat. Majid Jordan “Hold on, We’re Going Home”
Pharrell Williams “Happy”
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams “Blurred Lines” — winner
Justin Timberlake feat. Jay Z “Suit & Tie”

Top Streaming Artist:
Miley Cyrus — winner
Imagine Dragons
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Katy Perry

Top Country Song:
Luke Bryan “Crash My Party”
Luke Bryan “That’s My Kind of Night”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Nelly “Cruise” — winner
Darius Rucker “Wagon Wheel”
Blake Shelton feat. Pistol Annies & Friends “Boys ‘Round Here”

Top Hot 100 Song:
Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball”
Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”
Lorde “Royals”
Katy Perry “Roar”
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams “Blurred Lines” — winner

Milestone Award:
Ellie Goulding
Carrie Underwood — winner

Top Artist:
Miley Cyrus
Imagine Dragons
Bruno Mars
Katy Perry
Justin Timberlake — winner

Icon Award
Jennifer Lopez