The pop/dance group Milli Vanilli released their US debut album in 1989, Girl You Know It’s True, and it was a smash success. 4 of the songs from the album charted, with two of the singles going platinum and the album itself going 6 TIMES PLATINUM. That means it sold over 6 million copies. (Little known fact: the album went diamond in Canada! That means it sold over 10 million copies there. Oh, those Canadians.)
The songs were unforgettable and catchy. I love ‘em.
Girl You Know It’s True
Baby, Don’t Forget My Number
Blame It On The Rain
Girl I’m Going To Miss You
When a sexy male artist starts off a song with “Girl” or “Baby,” that means when you’re listening to it at 2 o’clock in the morning under the covers while reading Judy Blume books with a flashlight– they’re talking to you!
I was a fan. I thought the music was good. I was 13, but hey. The guys were boss. They were tall, groovy looking guys with long braids. After awhile, they started to seem a little cheesy. They started seeming fakey and too commercial. I think this opinion was based on my assessment of their fashion. They wore those big, boxy blazers.
I hated those big boxy blazers. They also came out in bicycle shorts (remember bicycle shorts? on men? as a fashion statement?) all the time. I was not a fan of the fashion as the act developed over the next few months into overnight media sensations! I became a lesser fan.
But it was the 80s and overall fashion was horrible. I liked the songs though. The songs were infectious. I danced to them in front of my bureau dresser mirror with the hairbrush as the mic many times I’m sure.
Look at this video. They look cool in this video. It’s my favorite one:
But then IT ALL CAME OUT.
These two dudes who were going around singing these songs were impostors! They were these German model/dancer guys that were just lip-synching all the songs. That’s pretty scandalous.
This is what the real Milli Vanilli looks like:
That’s most of them any way.
The public was duped! And we were mad! Screw you guys! What does that even mean, “Milli Vanilli”? Our minds were blown. Our worlds were torn apart. The backlash was hardcore. They were all over the news. All the talk show hosts dogged them. People just hated them. Pretty much everyone hated them, but there’s actually more to the story. I’m about to make you feel sorry for these guys.
First of all let’s get real and let’s get philosophical. If you were a young poor person and you were approached by some rich dude who was like “Hey, here’s some money– get on stage and pretend to sing,” would you do it?
I mean, in your wildest imagination, would you think that you were about to become an international star? Wouldn’t you just think that you were going to tour around the clubs a little bit and make some cash?
Again, you are just a young broke German guy with weird hair and weird fashion, dancing in the discotecs of Europe, with a best friend that apparently likes to jump up and chest bump with you sometimes. Is that how you spell “discotec”? Anywho, apparently, they were given a bunch of cash and they went and spent it on clothes and hair products. This is true. This is the story.
After they had spent all the cash advance, the record producer was like, “You guys have to lip sync for us or pay us back.” They didn’t have any money, so they were like slaves. This is all information that I got from wikipedia because it has been many years since I watched the VH1 Behind The Music special about it which incidentally was the first Vh1 Behind The Music ever made. I love that show.
Anyway, I guess I’m feeling like they were kind of in a situation that they couldn’t get out of. And they were the laughing stock of the world. It was public humility and scorn.
After the firestorm, it seems like at least one of the guys, Fab, turned out okay… but Rob apparently turned to a life of drugs and crime and eventually overdosed himself and died. Who knows– it might have been intentional. Who’s to say what really happened to him? It’s just really sad.
I named this blog, “Blame It On The Rain” because that’s the name of one of their popular songs. And obviously, they took all the blame. Who’s really at fault? Who decided that the real artists weren’t pretty enough to sing on MTV? It is the record company’s fault.
I like Pink Floyd’s commentary on the music industry and what pigs they are.
Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”
I am ready for a Pink Floyd laser light show, yeah! (but I digress)
These guys’ lives were ruined. The whole gruesome tale, to me, resembles some sort of epic story, like the rising to great heights and falling into the lowest lows found in a Shakespeare tragedy… or probably more like a Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex (The Duo!) or something… very dramatic. They are actually planning to make a movie about it, but I don’t know if it is going to be any good.
I love you Rob. <3
Well, that is all I have to say about this subject matter. Until next time, I hope this post doesn’t bring you too down. It’s good to know things that happened in history. Even if it is relatively recent history. Even if it from the 80s. You can try to learn from the mistakes of other people. Moral: don’t get seduced to do something iffy for a buck or hair products.
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