There comes a time to use a certain app to replace the faces of music industry superstars with one’s own face in a half-brilliant, half-grotesque parody of the biggest charity anthem of the 1980s. Co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and famously produced by Quincy Jones with an all-star celebrity choir, 1985’s “We Are The World” brought together a staggering assortment of chart-topping singers ranging from Bob Dylan to Diana Ross to Willie Nelson. At the time, comedian Kevin Meaney famously worked the pious song into his act, contorting his face and body to impersonate the parade of celebrity soloists who appeared on the record. He donned sunglasses to portray Steve Wonder, got on his knees to impersonate height-challenged Paul Simon, and squinted mightily to convey the passion of Bruce Springsteen. But as YouTube’s Rhett LeCompte demonstrates, all it takes these days to impersonate the stars of “We Are The World” is the self-explanatory Face Swap smartphone app.
LeCompte knows that his version of the song will be disturbing to some viewers, so he begins his performance with a warning: “I think you should pee before you watch this. I think I’m gonna pee doing it.” Forewarned is forearmed. From there, the song and the face-swapping magic begin. As the T-shirt-clad LeCompte sways in his chair, the facial features of various famous singers are projected onto his own face. In a weird way, this video emphasizes the unifying oneness of humanity, as a single performer manages to change age, gender, race, and ethnicity many times over the course of five minutes. Thanks to Face Swap, LeCompte can be a black man one second and a white woman the next. Rarely does an example of David Cronenberg-esque body horror carry with it such a positive and uplifting message.