It’s hard to imagine that we once lived in world where musicians were reprimanded for lip syncing. Let us not forget some of the questionable Grammy nominee’s choices in recent years. However, back in 1990, for the first time ever the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences stripped the best new artist Grammy from the group known as Milli Vanilli. Anyone who knows the group’s hit single “Girl You Know It’s True” won’t find anything too challenging about it vocally. We can also agree that even if they did not actually sing on the album it came from, it was still a pretty solid release. Unfortunately, on November 19, 1990 their lip sync fail came into light by the media and did a lot damage to their careers, more than it has to any other pop artist.
It started off with just another MTV performance. Just days before, they had been giving interviews with accents that could have made you question how they even sang the way they did on the album. Their performance seemed to go well until an accident with sound caused the backing track to skip and led to the repetition of a line from the song, over again and over again. Even though it was clear that these two German natives were not actually singing it almost went unnoticed by the crowd until a couple days later. Slight speculation from the media finally pressured their producer Frank Farian to come forth with the truth that Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan did not contribute to any of the singing on the album. The buzz for these up in coming artists came crashing down right after one of its members claimed they were the next Elvis.
When the record was first released in Europe there was no indication that they were actually the singers on the track, so once it came to America for release, all its origins had “disappeared.” A Grammy award for Best New Artist and three number one hits later, the face of Milli Vanili was shattered and stripped of its dignity. After the many lawsuits and public humiliation, Milli Vanilli will always win as the most high-profile lip synching fake outs in the history of pop music.
Even after the controversy, their producer tried to redeem the image of the group by coming out with a comeback album known as The Real Milli Vanilli. It featured many of the artists from the original tracks and its purpose was to rebrand and rebuild after the public disaster. However, it never really did what it intended to do. A couple years later Pilatus and Morvan tried their hardest to make a name for themselves again in the music industry. They started to record an album together, once they reunited after some time of not speaking to one another. Their attempt at the music business was cut short as Pilatus died in 1998, way before the album was released. To say the least it was not very successful when it was released but we will never forget what the controversy of their lip syncing taught us. Let this remind us that at one point in time we actually cared if pop artists could sing their own music.
Revisit “Girl You Know It’s True”: