For the most part, every tiger resembles every other tiger and every mushroom resembles every other mushroom. Resemblance is a widespread hallmark of nature; it is so widespread that even in humans, the most distinct species, resemblance still exists.
Beyond the fact that all humans have two feet, forward-looking eyes, a set of 32 teeth and so on, some people do truly look like other people. We’ve all met or seen someone that looks so much like someone else, it was shocking. This visual similarity is part of the “Over-Striking Resemblance”.
Meeting someone who looks “exactly” like someone you know doesn’t usually put people off; in fact it pulls them closer. Over-Striking Resemblances have been the foundation for ill-fated friendships and failed romances.
Apart from the obvious danger of being mistaken for your doppelganger who might be wanted for some crime, an Over-Striking Resemblance isn’t necessarily a bad thing in terms of mere looks. It’s usually a bad thing though, when the resemblance is more than skin-deep.
This is especially true in popular culture, where OSR is almost always a guarantee of failure.
The Legion of Wizkid Impostors
Let’s start at home: there exists today, in Nigeria, an incredibly large number of singers who sound disturbingly like Wizkid. It’s disturbing because most of them sound horrible. Those singers who actually sound good while sounding like Wizkid just don’t have a chance because the general populace adores him and apparently there’s no space in their hearts for an artiste who sounds just like him.
It gets worse because OAPs and DJs are practically turned off by Wizkid sound-alikes so these artistes usually find a hard time getting airplay or song spins. Truly, Wizkid is the only man they want.
Of course, a quick assessment and rebranding should follow in an attempt to solve their acceptability problems but many of these artistes and their handlers have told themselves that being like Wizkid is the only way. In view of Wizkid’s wild success, I don’t blame them very much so good luck to them.
Some of these clones claim to naturally sound like Wizkid, protesting that they can’t possibly change their God-given voices. I understand that but surely, dressing like him, getting the same haircut and rocking the same Ray Ban frames (albeit the fakes) isn’t helping their cause. It’s simply an Over-Striking Resemblance.
Note that none of these sound-alikes have truly made it. You might point to the Mavin 2.0 boys but in the real sense, Reekado Banks and Korede Bello aren’t Wizkid sound-alikes. Reekado’s singing has stylistic elements reminiscent of Wizkid’s but his voice texture is a lot different and Korede, with his very delicate vocals just doesn’t sing like Wizkid. They both have different haircuts too. See?
There are numerous other cases of musical doppelgangers but let’s just consider D’Banj vs. Durella, Vector vs. Jay Z and Praiz vs. Bez.
In a nutshell, D’Banj’s attitude and musical direction differed from Durella’s, Vector’s incorporation of Afro elements in his music brought a marked distinction from Jay’s music and Praiz has finally found his true calling: making music that encourages bumping and grinding.
These examples show only a vocal resemblance and that isn’t an Over-Striking Resemblance, hence the success of these artistes.
The Case of Victor Frankenstein
“Victor Frankenstein”, is a sci-fi, fantasy, horror movie released in 2015. I never heard about it all through its production and cinema run and I didn’t get to see it until just a few days ago. I was eager to see it for even though I am familiar with the story of Frankenstein and his grotesque monster, I haven’t seen the full-length movie and subsequent remakes. I have also not read the original classic novel by Mary Shelley (maybe because it was published in 1818).
I personally liked “Victor Frankenstein” but right off the bat, I could tell it was heavily inspired by the “Sherlock Holmes” movies directed by Guy Ritchie up to the point that it was almost imitating them. The eccentricity of the lead character was very similar to that of Sherlock Holmes and the down-to-earth nature and moral compass exhibited by Igor closely mirrored that of Holmes’ good friend and partner, Dr. Watson. That might have been pardoned but the costumes and setting were a little too similar; the stunts, effects and the very tone of the movie all looked so strikingly like Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein might have as well been a sequel to it.
After embarking on a little research, I found that viewers and critics disliked the movie for the above-stated reasons; it was simply an Over-Striking Resemblance and the movie eventually became a box-office bomb, with a present grossing of $34.2 million despite a budget of $40 million.
The Over-Striking Resemblance is a dangerous phenomenon and should be treated as such. If you intend to pursue a career in impersonation, wait till the original act is dead and proudly label yourself an impersonator, like Jeffrey Perez, who is on “tour” impersonating Michael Jackson.
But if you’re going to call yourself by a unique name while running around looking, sounding and generally reminding people of someone else, chances are, your efforts will fall flat.
The Keyboard Ninja