According to Entertainment Tonight, Christina Aguilera will perform with a hologram of the late Whitney Houston on an upcoming episode of The Voice. You heard that right: A hologram of "The Voice" will appear on The Voice.
The news raises many questions about the ethics of posthumous hologram performances. Would Whitney Houston approve of the performance? Would she be cool with her duet partner? And, assuming the story isn't just a rumor, who asked for this? And why? For the love of Nancy Kerrigan, why????
Here's what I found.
ET reports the duet will air during an upcoming episode of the NBC singing competition's 10th season (the finale airs May 24), although it's unknown which episode will feature the performance.
Aguilera herself remained tight-lipped during a red carpet interview with ET Monday night.
"I'm sworn to secrecy," the Voice coach said. "I can't say anything, but I'm very excited about the finale. [She nervously siiiiiings, then laughs.] Very exciting things happening."
NBC has neither confirmed nor denied reports of a hologram duet on The Voice. (I reached out to NBC's press office, and I'll update the story if I hear back.) Hologram USA, the company that owns the exclusive rights to the Whitney Houston hologram that is reportedly scheduled to go on tour later this year, declined to confirm anything Voice-related when I reached them for comment. But a grainy cell phone video, seemingly filmed by an audience member during what appears to be the hologram performance's recent taping, may be all the confirmation we need.
In the clip, uploaded to YouTube on May 6, we see Aguilera getting hair and makeup touch-ups before launching into "I Have Nothing," one of Houston's many classic hits off the 1992 chart-topping Bodyguard soundtrack. The video then cuts to Xtina announcing "Ladies and gentlemen, Whitney Houston" as a hologram of the late singer takes the lead on the "Dooooon't maaaaake meeeeee…" key change. The clip then jumps to the two midway through Houston's version of Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman"—an unsettling sentiment, considering one of the two women singing isn't a physical woman at all, but a towering crosshatch of light and sound.
It's impossible to know for sure whether Whitney Houston would approve of this posthumous hologram performance, much less her hologram's upcoming world tour. The seven-time Grammy-winning artist died on February 11, 2012, a full two months before the ongoing debate over posthumous hologram ethics kicked off thanks to the appearance of a Tupac hologram at that year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Houston did not live long to be asked her opinion about the slain rapper's hologram—much less Ol' Dirty Bastard's at Rock the Bells in 2013, Michael Jackson's at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, or the now-scrapped Amy Winehouse hologram tour—so no such comments exist on record.
Hologram USA partnered with Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law and president of her estate, to create the hologram in the first place, so all we know is that at least some members of the musician's family are OK with it.
As for the Houston hologram's duet partner, it should be noted the late vocalist thought favorably of Christina Aguilera's work. The "Beautiful" singer herself is a huge fan of Whitney's, just like most people are. The Voice coach once told Oprah Winfrey that she performed "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" at an elementary school talent show. There's also this video of her covering "I Have Nothing" on the Mickey Mouse Club back in the early '90s, and more recently, Aguilera has been known to break into "I Will Always Love You" at random.
Christina was even selected to perform Houston's "Run to You" at the 2001 BET Awards as part of the iconic singer's Lifetime Achievement honors.
After that performance, Houston took the stage and showed some love for the young artist.
"First of all, I'd like to thank Miss Christina," Whitney said. "I really would, thank you. You are one that I truly enjoy in today's music. You've done the best rendition of 'Run to You,' besides myself. Thank you very much."
And yet Houston could have been the biggest Xtina stan in the world—crying herself to sleep at night over the Bionic Tour that never was—and still not approve of a hologram styled in her likeness, pantomiming her songs long after she'd passed away. Or perhaps she would have loved it! We'll simply never know. All I can say is that maybe all parties involved in greenlighting this duet probably should've just… not.
Bad at filling out bios seeks same.