Friday, September 09, 2016

use 2 bee & spoze 2 bee

 Let me apologize once again for promising this op-ed (what should I call these things other than blog pieces?)11 days ago-- almost 2 wks -- that I promised a compare-and contrast between modern forms of entertainment and the primitive Punch & Judy shows you can see on the streets of London 
town in season. 

The problem is that we're talking about such vastly different species there's hardly any room for comparison. I chose Milli Vanilli, the great pop phenomenon of the late 80's, not least because they turned out 2 B fraudulent -- a verdict I have trouble accepting even today.

The late-80's duo called "Milli Vanilli," hit show business with tremendous impact in 1987 with their first and as it turned out, best big hit, "Girl you know it's true" If it had just been a simple matter of a couple kids from the neighborhood getting a band together and doing their own songs, they'd have never come to grief as they did, but this was the late 20th century, and neither Rob Pilatus (l) nor Fab Morvan was from the US; both grew up in Munich and neither even spoke English when the project began. Even though they were universally vilified for fakery in selling a lip-sync job under false pretenses, I tended then as now to see them as naive, modestly talented victims, ground up in the SoCal production machine.

Frank Farian, the producer of this piece, and also the true founder of Milli Vanilli, is a shadowy figure who had ambitions of his own, but also but also felt he lacked the looks or dynamism to beome a level 1 star. When he heard "Girl you know it's true" he bought it, then began looking for front men to deliver the song. He did a lot of the lead singing for the  the "product" as it took shape, but was both too old (early 40's) and too white to appear on camera.

He got really excited over the appearance of Morvan and Pilatus, but decided working on their English skills was not worth it, as he was contracted to deliver a record by a certain date.

In 2011 Morvan claimed that Farian manipulated the two by giving them a small advance when he signed them. The pair spent most of it on clothes and hairstyling, then several 
months later Farian called them back and told them they had to lip sync to the prerecorded music or, per the contract, repay the advance in full. "We were not hired, we were trapped" Morvan recalled. (Wikipedia, s.v. MIlli Vanilli) 

("[GRIL you know it's true] - -awoo woo woooo - I love ayou hooo!). Yes !U know its true!!  (GRI*I*I*IL*LL)    Awoo hoo hoop, I LOVE YfsOU-HU!

official video of "Gril (sic) U know it's true" here.

However I feel the best and 'truest" version of this song is the one the producers of the grammy awards uncorked in 1990, starring the original quintet, but weighted down with all the enormous impedimentia of the era --backup singers, a dozen or so dancers, extra musicians and imported sound effects. Watching, you may realize you know the exact date the era of bread and circuses arrived.

It just as quickly departed.

(Charles) Shaw, a US Army veteran, was reportedly paid $6,000 to perform the rap on Milli Vanilli's hit "Girl You Know It’s True". In December 1989, Shaw disclosed to New York Newsday writer John BLeland that he was one of three singers (The other two were John Davis and Brad Howell) on Milli Vanilli's hit debut album, and that Milli Vanilli frontmen Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan were impostors. Milli Vanilli producer Frank Farian reportedly paid Shaw $150,000 to retract his statements.[1]
Morvan and Pilatus went on to win the 1990 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, but rumors about Shaw's involvement persisted. Eventually the true story of the band was exposed in November 1990 when Farian broke the story himself, and the duo's Grammy Award was subsequently withdrawn. (Wikipedia, s.v. MIlli Vanilli) 
After 1990 the duo, formerly kings of the world,were driven from door to door.
The real tragedy of Milli Vanilli didn't occur until 1998--the year Rob Pilatus took his life, with an overdose of opiates and alcohol. The other guy, the pretty one in the red jacket with the outrageous shoulder pads, is still plying the rocky shoals of showbiz, knowing how badly they can injure and that they're occasionally fatal. Looking at various current interviews with Fab, who is now in his late 40s, He seems to have adopted a middle-aged philosphical outlook on past disasters and  takes his biggest pleasure from gaining credibility the hard way -- by getting up on stage and singing -- and with some commercial success.  KFC is the beneficiary of Fab's newfound vocal abilities, which he comes by as honestly as any singer who ever sang an ad jingle.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Good and thoughtful exonoration that has changed my perspective on Milli Vanilli. Now my mind has formed word associations with the group name: Milli, like in "run-of-the-mill," and vanilla, like with "plain vanilla."