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Trivia / Milli Vanilli

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  • Author Existence Failure: The group was planning a comeback with Rob and Fab as the actual lead singers, with the "Girl You Know It's True" vocalists as back-up singers. Their album, Back and In Attack, was cancelled when Rob suddenly died of a drug overdose in 1998. A few years earlier, Rob and Fab (who had already recorded as Empire Bizarre before the creation of Milli Vanilli) released a new album of their own performances, without the Milli Vanilli moniker. Despite a promotional appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, the album fell afoul of distribution problems, and very few copies made it to stores. Since Rob's death, Fab Morvan has recorded as a solo artist, and has made European TV appearances singing Milli Vanilli's hits. Obviously, his renditions sound absolutely nothing like those of the original vocalists.
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  • Breakthrough Hit: "Girl You Know It's True."
  • Creator Killer:
    • Their career came crashing to the ground in 1990 when it was revealed that the faces of the band were not only lip-syncing during live shows, but that they never recorded the vocals on the album at all, the songs having actually been sung by other artists in the studio (who, after the controversy, recorded an album of their own as The Real Milli Vanilli). This was enough for the duo to have their Grammy for Best New Artist be withdrawn, and more broadly, the affair triggered a strong backlash against dance-pop that lasted well into The '90s and fueled the growth of both "alternative" genres (such as Alternative Rock, Gangsta Rap and Hip Hop Soul) and easy listening.
    • The lip-syncing debacle also led to Frank Farian's once-stellar career to derail, though he did have a brief comeback in the mid-Nineties producing hits by pop trio No Mercy.
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  • Development Hell: The planned comeback, Back and In Attack, will probably never see release now, due to Rob's death.
  • Genre-Killer: The fall of Milli Vanilli arguably triggered the revolt against pop music that occurred in the United States in the early 1990s, which ended the careers of just about every pop artist not named Madonna and led to the rise of Grunge and Gangsta Rap, thanks to them having more of an air of authenticity, while most vocal pop acts transitioned into easy listening. It wasn't until the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears finally broke through in the latter half of the decade that bubblegum pop music became okay to like again for a new generation of kids and teens.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Zig-zagged. The original album is still out of print, but Sony, the parent company of Arista Records, released a Greatest Hits Album in 2006 with all of the original UK-recorded masters.
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  • Non-Singing Voice: What they're best known for. Both "The Real Milli Vanilli" and Rob & Fab attempted to avert this, but nobody bought it.
  • Old Shame: How'd you like to be known solely for one of these? Fabrice Morvan more or less treats his past with Milli Vanilli as a cautionary tale.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Their fame and fortune abruptly ended just a year after their breakthrough album, Girl You Know It's True, was released. The album's producer Frank Farian admitted that the duo didn't actually provide the vocals nor wrote any of the songs for the album, creating a chain reaction of events that resulted in the duo's Grammy Award for Best New Artist being withdrawn, Arista Records voluntarily destroying all unsold copies of Girl You Know It's True and the album masters, and dozens of lawsuits against the duo from customers demanding refunds. Despite this, they actually didn't immediately die off from the fallout, as the duo continued performing up until co-frontman Rob Pilatus died of a drug overdose in 1998.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact: Not an entirely positive one, as you can imagine. Even after bubblegum pop became socially acceptable to enjoy again, every single act has been under scrutiny for authenticity, be it lip-syncing or Autotune, in fear that another Milli Vanilli will happen. Still, it wasn't all bad: the incident's notoriety did lead to the creation of a law which requires all music albums to credit exactly who provides the vocals, which still exists to this day and helped certain singers get out of similar jams shortly after, most notable being Martha Wash, who successfully sued C+C Music Factory after her vocals on their their mega-smash "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" were mimed by a younger, slimmer actress in the music video.
  • What Could Have Been: Look up any of the videos of Fab Morvan singing live on YouTube. Frank Farian really should've let Fab sing.


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