Back in the spring of 1989 when Milli Vanilli released their smash Album, Girl You Know It’s True, a friend of mine introduced them to me. I made a copy of her cassette (life before CDs in my world) and practically wore it out in my tape deck. It was one of the first CDs I eventually bought when I got a CD player.
The album was great driving music. I jammed to it many a time on my commute to and from my retail job at Sears that summer. My senior year of high school followed in the fall and I began a lot of my mornings with Milli Vanilli’s peppy, infectious tunes. It helped get me through that final year.
It was also great party music. It seemed that everywhere I went that summer, a Milli Vanilli song made it into the music rotation. The album is easy to listen to and easy to dance to, even for a disjointed white boy like myself.
Then, in 1990, the world crashed. Milli Vanilli was caught lip-syncing to their songs in concert. Not on TV when they were sick and worried about losing their voices (Ashlee Simpson). No, they were busted in a real live concert when both were perfectly healthy and jumping around the stage just like in their videos.
Their 10-times platinum album that spawned five Top 10 songs, three of which went to Number 1, was immediately the scourge of the music world. The bomb dropped. Milli Vanilli wasn’t Milli Vanilli. The two guys we identified as Milli and Vanilli (Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan) were not the singers on the popular album. They just had the look.
Hindsight being 20/20, the world finally understood how these two pretty boys could talk with those thick accents and sing without them. Like all great puzzles and shams, the answer was obvious once you knew it.
Milli Vanilli was shamed. Rob and Fab fell from their pedestal. Album burnings were held nationwide. Overnight, Milli and Vanilli went from Kings to Jesters in the court of public opinion. Disgusted fans turned their backs on the two and pretended the group never existed.
But they did. And someone sang a great album. And someone produced a pop masterpiece that still rings in my ears to this day (maybe because I’m rocking to it right now). The great sadness in this debacle is not that Rob and Fab didn’t sing, but that the real guys singing never got their proper credit.
Brad Howell, John Davis and Charles Shaw (who sang the title track), I salute you.
I’m proud to announce that I’ve continued to listen to my Milli Vanilli album, even after all these years. Just last week, in a fit of nostalgia, I finally ripped my Milli Vanilli CD onto my computer. I’ve listened to it at least once every day since then and I’m not afraid to admit it.
Among my circle of friends, I’m the only person that still refers to Milli Vanilli in the present tense because to me, their music still lives. I’ve got a lot of great memories attached to their album and every once in a while, I still catch myself humming the tune to “Blame It On The Rain.” Thank you guys.
The Last Milli Vanilli Fan.