This TikToker’s Impression of Ben Platt Is So Good Even Ben Platt Agrees

The Jewish singer thinks Malik Bilbrew does a "gorgeous" job.

Editorial note: This piece has been updated after publication with comments from Malik Bilbrew.

I know Ben Platt’s voice when I hear it. Last summer, I had the revival Broadway cast recording of “Parade” on repeat, highkey sobbing along to the Jewish singer’s powerful renditions of “It’s Not Over Yet,” “All the Wasted Time” and the Shema. I’m not an expert on vocal performance. But from those listening sessions, it was clear to me that Platt has a distinctive sound. Ben Platt is a singer who can soar on high notes and dig in on low ones, and impress the audience with his riffing and vibrato.

Or at least, I thought I knew his voice when I heard it. Then, I heard this TikTok from Malik Bilbrew.

@malikbilbrew_

Part 9 – this one is especially silly. Thank you @Miley Cyrus for this bop. #comedy #benplatt #concertresidency #noshortshorts #singing #satire #theclimb #mileycyrus #sza #CTRL

♬ original sound – Malik Bilbrew

 

Last month, the 24-year-old actor and singer started posting videos of themself doing uncanny impressions of Ben Platt’s singing voice and style. He quickly went viral. At time of publication, his most popular video is an impression of Ben Platt singing “What Is Love Baby Don’t Hurt Me” to the tune of 1.7M plays and 293.4K likes.

Coincidentally, it’s an impression that has roots in Malik’s own history with the musical “Parade.” Malik was cast as Jim Conley in a high school production of “Parade” and was “deeply mesmerized” by Jason composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s “riveting, raw and complex” music. Through listening to the entire “Parade” album on repeat, Malik absorbed most of the melodies and lyrics, even beyond the songs they were performing. So when Ben Platt starred in “Parade” on Broadway last year, Malik started singing the songs once more.

“I naturally started singing it as Ben and my partner Anthony began to laugh — his laugh was proof enough,” Malik explains to me via email. “He implored me to record myself doing different songs, and the first video I did of ‘What is Love’ went viral, and that’s when I knew this was a journey worth expanding on.”

But it’s not just Malik’s mockingbird-like abilities which have garnered them views. (Though, to be sure, their voice and impressions are incredible.) Their impression videos have the kind of earnestly playful spirit that the internet rarely fosters. Holding random props and singing songs from Hannah Montana’s “The Best of Both Worlds” to The Wiggles’ “Fruit Salad,” Malik is clearly having a good time. Each video ends when he cracks up, laughing too hard at the silliness of it all to sing.

Even Ben Platt himself is enjoying Malik’s videos. He commented “Gorgeous” on the “What Is Love” video. In reference to his recent concert residency, he later replied, “Adding to the set list” on a video of Malik singing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. For a celebrity who’s previously been a bit edgy about how he’s perceived by the public, it’s exciting to see Platt recognize that the joke is a celebration of his artistry, not a mockery.

“He’s someone I admire, and seeing that I was having that kind of impact was a special feeling,” Malik tells me. “If I could have that kind of impact on him, then to me it felt worthy of continuation because who knows what sort of value it could be to others. I intend to bring joy to those around me, and this feels like the work I came here to do on this earth. What better way to share my gifts with others?”

In addition to continuing his Ben Platt impression (with more Disney and Nickelodeon themed songs for plenty of Gen Z nostalgia), Malik also plans to post more videos just singing as himself. “Allowing folks that view of me, I think, is just as important,” they say.

Malik adds, “I’m also manifesting that one of these videos one day Ben will pop into and we’ll sing together. I think it would be amazing to have that kind of collaboration with him.”

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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