If you don't have Paramount +, either subscribe or find yourself a password like I did because this documentary is phenomenal. I'm definitely going to watch it again.
I've been fascinated with Milli Vanilli's story since I first learned about them, thanks to VH1 literally decades ago. I told their story to countless people, but if you somehow don't know who they are...for about two years, they were one of the biggest duos on earth (culminating with the 1990 Grammy for Best New Artist), except they were actually lip-syncing. People weren't super thrilled to learn that little factoid.
Whatever you may think about them or the entire situation, there's no denying the music was actually good. There's a reason "their" first five singles went to #2, #1, #1, #1, and #1 respectively. I pride myself on my music tastes, and I love Milli Vanilli with zero shame. Quick Power Rankings of my favorite songs: 3. Blame it on the Rain; 2. Girl, You Know It's True; 1. Baby Don't Forget My Number.
Some people love to bitch about how "soft" today's society is becoming, but those people are usually Neanderthals. It's a good thing that some people want to evolve and improve and (excuse me for using one of my favorite cliches) see that the world is not black and white. Understanding and accepting nuance is crucial.
Unfortunately for Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, too many people were missing that key emotional skill in 1990. The reactions they dealt with from fans and the media were cruel, and the anger channeled at them was misdirected. It's like when I was a kid, and I'd get mad at an athlete for signing with another team and call them "greedy," when in reality, it was their team's owner being cheap and not valuing their asset. It's like the idiots who blame inflation and other economic issues on workers getting paid a living wage and not CEOs making tens of millions. The scene where they show news footage from a parent suing them for how they deceived her son is so cringe. Fuck that mom and her shitty kid. I bet that guy grew up to be a cuck.
Milli Vanilli's rollercoaster rise and fall is both fascinating and tragic. What ultimately should've been a victimless crime cost a man his life. There's no denying that Milli Vanilli deceived people, but they didn't just come up out of thin air. Record producer Frank Farian carefully crafted them. It's crazy that scumbag is still alive. Checkout in birthplace! How fitting for a piece of shit?
Rob and Fab were simply a cog in the record industry machine (which is notoriously scuzzy). A few years after Milli, boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were victims of a Ponzi Scheme under Lou Pearlman (rest in piss). John Mulaney's Berry Gordy joke is funny..because it's true. Watch the Elvis movie. There are probably thousands of examples of artists being fucked over in one way or another. Again, Rob and Fab aren't blameless here (as you'll see in the doc, Rob says some outrageous things about other artists), but they were pretty powerless in this situation. As Fab explains throughout the doc, it's easy to see why they'd participate in this elaborate ruse. If I had the chance and was in their shoes, I'd probably do the same thing.
It's just so fucking sad to see how many talented people were hurt during these displays of greed at any cost. Frank Farian is an evil man and it's fucked up he basically sold them out and moved on. Meanwhile, the actual talent dealt with the wrath and consequences. The actual singers were fantastic, and had to watch other people get rich from their gifts. Rob and Fab were great dancers and models that people in power positions manipulated. They just wanted a chance to live their dreams, but they were used to sell a product to the world. The backup singers were more in the shadows than usual. I feel so bad for everybody involved.
The story of Milli Vanilli is one of the most unusual in music history, but they are far from the first or last lip-synch group. In 1990, the music video for C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat" used model Zelma Davis to "sing" parts actually sung by Martha Walsh (of The Weather Girls!..aka the group that gave us "It's Raining Men!").
Regardless of your take on Milli Vanilli, this is a must-watch documentary for music and non-music (what kind of weird doesn't like music???) fans alike. I learned a lot, so you'll learn a ton. While I don't think they should get their Grammy back, Reggie Bush should absolutely get his Heisman back.
Fab can actually kind of sing. I'm glad he's doing well and at peace. It's kind of ironic that he's singing the song that Rob "sang" lead on.