1. Frank Sinatra aka Bob Anderson
Five nights a week at the Palazzo Theater in Las Vegas, Bob Anderson undergoes a two-hour transformation into Old Blue Eyes (and yes, that includes the use of colored contact lenses). Makeup artist Kazu Tsuji oversees the transformation. And when Anderson takes the stage, his voice and in-between-numbers repartee complete his embodiment of Frank Sinatra. Rat Packers Jerry Lewis and Steve Lawrence both commented on the uncanny verisimilitude, saying that they only wished Frank were alive today to witness the show. (BTW, if you happen to be Las Vegas you can get tickets to his show, “Frank, the Man, the Music” here, or by calling 866.641.7469.)
Check out the two-hour process that allows Bob to transform into Sinatra.
2. Justin Bieber aka Kate McKinnon
To date, McKinnon has graced us with five appearances on SNL doing her dead-on impersonation of the Biebs. Each time out, she kills it, adding the slightest tic or subtle gesture that nails the imitation. The tour-de-force came in late January when she and Cecily Strong teamed up for the #myCalvins parody. McKinnon went on Conan last year and characterized the essence of the spoof, saying that the key is, “looking like a puppy who just piddled and is sort of sorry about it.” That sounds about right.
3. Michael Jackson aka Navi
Short of Elvis, there is no other performer that has more imitators than MJ – and serious ones at that. Joby Rogers, Kenny Wizz, E’Casanova, and others (search them out on YouTube – it’s worth it) all capture an aspect of Michael, but the reigning King of Kings of Pop is Navi. Skillful as any of the impressions on this list might be, none of them have been hired by the celebrity they impersonate to be a decoy for paparazzi. Navi has. Over the last three decades, Nave has traveled the world, doing more than 150 concerts as Michael Jackson.
4. Madonna aka Nadya Ginsburg
As a performer who has consistently reinvented her music, her style, and even her accent on occasions, Madonna has somewhat defied imitation. (Sure there was Julie Brown back in the ‘90s, but that was more parody than impersonation.) Over the last few years, Nadya Ginsburg — writer and performer in VH1s own short-form series, “Madonna Dearest” — has wrestled and pinned the Madonna impression to the mat. She sends up “Her Madgesty” with a pitch-perfect Michigan-girl-meets-British-aristocrat accent, adding a dash of Kaballah-tinged New Yorker. Her series and live show, The Madonnalogues, is a must-see for any Madonna fan.
5. Beyoncé aka Skye Townsend
As has been long established, it’s Beyoncé’s world; we just live in it. No one approaches her wide-ranging talent. Even her speaking voice — with its deep, halting, sometimes-shy-always-fearless quality — is uniquely her own. Well, that is, unless you’re listening to YouTuber Skye Townsend in any of the videos she’s posted imitating Queen B. The cadence is dead-on, right along with the odd phrasing and Houston-inflected drawl. Careful – this one is addictive.
6. Cher aka Chad Michaels
Cher’s own son, Chaz Bono, officially closed the book on the question of Cher impersonators when he said, “Give me Chad Michaels or don’t waste your time.” Even People magazine was fooled once, mistakenly using a red-carpet snap of Chad in a Cher photo spread of “Celebrity Transformations″ in 2009. Chad first graced the airwaves as Cher on RuPaul’s Drag Race doing his homage during the Season 4 “Snatch Game” episode. Not surprisingly, Cher towers above all the other purported send-ups, legend that she (and Chad) is.
7. President Barack Obama aka Alphacat
The Obama of YouTube — that’s how Alphacat (real name: Iman Crosson) has come to be known. His break-out moment happened shortly after the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound when he quickly recorded and released a video entitled, “Momentous Day.” That video traveled around the world, racking up over 10 million views at last count. Iman reflected back on the experience of making “Momentous Day” and the aftermath in an episode of VH1’s “Huge on the Tube.”
8. Everyone aka Frank Caliendo
Drop the mic. There’s no one in the business of impersonations that can hold a candle to Frank Caliendo. His scope is impressive, to say the least, ranging from obscure sports figures to American Presidents to legendary actors. Behold…
Promotional consideration was provided to VH1 as part of this story.