A few days before the Grammys, USA Today ran a really intriguing piece on the only living person who can be described as an ex-Grammy winner. I refer, of course, to Fabrice Morvan, one-half of the dance-pop duo Milli Vanilli.
Many hardcore music fans remember the story of Milli Vanilli, the critically-loathed commercial behemoths that scored five consecutive U.S. Top 5 hits and a Best New Arist Grammy before admitting later that year that they didn’t sing a note on the record. The Grammy was famously revoked and Arista deleted their album, Girl You Know It’s True, from the label catalogue. Morvan’s musical partner, Rob Pilatus, died in 1998 of an apparent drug overdose, but Morvan continues as a solo musician and consultant on an in-development biopic of the group.
I really related to some of Morvan’s quotes in the story, notably the irony that many current performers engage in live lip-synching and overuse of vocal effects without the kind of controversy that Milli Vanilli endured. (The fact that Taylor Swift, one of the night’s biggest winners, also gave one of the worst performances of the night really drives that point home.)
But as I read, a question formed in my reissue-addled brain – a question I now ask of you: should a Milli Vanilli film actually happen, in turn reviving awareness of their music, would it be prudent to bring the music out in print?
More thoughts after the jump.
There’s something interesting and risky about the notion that Legacy – who would distribute such a reissue – may one day revisit these records. Copies of Girl You Know It’s True (and the album’s European equivalent, All or Nothing) are actually rather easy to find on Amazon.com, as well as a 2007 greatest hits record (fun fact: the album cheekily credits Pilatus and Morvan with “visual performances”). But as someone who doesn’t own a copy of that compilation, I can’t confirm that there are any liner notes addressing the major controversies of the band.
That might be interesting if a reissue of Girl You Know It’s True (with or without additional content – there were dozens of dance remixes commissioned on both sides of the Atlantic) acknowledged the hard facts in the liner notes while still noting that Milli Vanilli’s output was dangerously catchy pop that obviously appealed to the masses. The question is, would catalogue fans like you actually buy it?
Labels have reissued the work of famous flops before (Jobriath particularly comes to mind), but would this go over well with the reissue enthusiasts out there? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.