Besides the outrageous outfits and pounds of glitter you expect to see at Coachella, you also expect to see humans — crowds of them.
There have been holograms at Coachella before, but they were of human performers who had passed, such as Tupac, made more corporeal by a body double. Even Gorillaz, the greatest band that never existed, had the bodies of the actual band members behind their animated personas. That's about to change.
Hatsune Miku, the vocaloid with blue Sailor Moon-ish twintails who is forever 16, will take the stage at Coachella later this year. This is not trolling. After recent headliners Beyoncé and Ariana Grande turned around what GQ magazine says was a notoriously male-dominated festival, Coachella has now found a female act that is literally like no other, never mind that she technically doesn’t exist. Being human wasn’t a mandatory qualification.
Destined to be a phenomenon, Hatsune Miku was developed in 2007 by Crypton Future Media in a collaboration with Yamaha that soon went viral. It helped that YouTube had just launched in Japan at the time. Powered by just a computer, Vocaloids can sing original songs you write for them without any additional downloads. The fandom soon exploded when people began recording songs with Hatsune’s digital voice and uploading them to YouTube. This may be hard to believe, but she had a No.1 album in Japan and now tours as a hologram.
She is even listed as a “humanoid persona” on Wikipedia. Close enough.
So how does a hologram perform as if it's flesh and blood? She needs a double-sided projection so she can appear 3D. That needs “multiple projectors and a couple sheets of polyethylene,” according to one of her many fansites. She will have a human band to back her up, but the actual songs the Vocaloid will sing have all been created by her legions of fans. There will be no body double or humans lending her their voices like Gorillaz. She can also change costumes faster than you can blink.
If there ever was a crowdsourced pop star, Hatsune Miku is one. Fans may even be able to touch her someday as hologram tech continues to level up.