Ed Driscoll

Wow, Did I Time This Right, Or What?

“The Making of a Pop Star 2010” was an article I wrote for Tech Central Station (later TCS Daily, now the video-oriented Ideas in Action Website) back in 2004, in which I predicted that the pop star of the future would be even more synthetic than the average made-for-MTV product of the past:

Max Headroom was an amusing mid-1980s look at what an entirely electronic newscaster of the future would be like. Eventually technology caught up with the fantasy, and in the late 1990s, Websites such as Ananova began to use a combination of digital animation and speech synthesis to have their own virtual newsreaders. [who by 2010 would eventually go the way of all pixels, apparently — Ed]

There will always be humans making music, but just as flesh and blood anchormen have been joined by Max and Ananova, human singers may very well be eventually joined by synthetic counterparts. It’s entirely possible that within ten or twenty years, teenagers will be worshiping entirely computerized pop stars: digital video animation will create their looks, programs such as Vocaloid will create their vocals, and a combination of pre-recorded loops of sound, crack studio musicians and software synthesizer programming will create their backing tracks. There have been plenty of rock videos shot for MTV that have been built around digital animation — building them around entirely digital singers seems like only the next logical step.

(One suspects that even with entirely digital video artists, wardrobe malfunctions will not remain a thing of the past, of course…)

For decades, Mick Jagger sang, “Time Is On My Side.” before eventually, it began to catch up with him. For the virtual pop star of the future, aging will be much less of a concern. And if she ever gets into a contract dispute, there’re always the control, alt and delete keys.

At least for the moment.

What I hadn’t considered was the role that live performance would play in these synthetic singers. Not surprisingly, given their culture’s obsession with robotics and its own (very much related) concerns with aging and demographics, the Japanese now have that covered.

Or as Allahpundit writes, “Japanese holograms now giving pop concerts or something.” Click over for the video.