Milli Vanilli‘s career is something I remember this happening at the time. They had a meteoric rise to power, then crashed the year later, so hard.
Under the tutelage of producer Frank Farian – who also brought Boney M to the fore, since Frank sang on dancer Bobby Farrell’s behalf (which I didn’t know before this) – Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan won awards aplenty… until it quickly became known that they never actually sang on their own records. Then again, how much of today’s entertainment is real, anyway? And how many politicians lie to us? Almost all of them! Same with the mainstream media.
We start in the gorgeous city of Amsterdam, where Fab takes out a pictures of him and Rob, reminscing on their rise and fall, reflecting on his own beginnings, and meeting Rob for the first time. Sadly, for Rob, his contributions can only come from archive footage because he passed away in 1998 after their downturn in fortunes hit hard.
Additionally, family relatives speak, along with record company executives, industry insiders and those who did the real singing in the band, since all the two leads were allowed to do was dance and be the face for Milli Vanillii.
A lot of people who weren’t around back then won’t realise just how quickly this all came and went. Their first single, Girl You Know It’s True, went to No.1 in many countries (albeit No.3 in the UK), and they signed with Arista Records, run by Clive Davis, who brought Whitney Houston to the fore, as shown in 2022’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, where Stanley Tucci played Stanley Tucci… I mean, he played Clive Davis.
Their album, All or Nothing – the European version, retitled Girl You Know It’s True in the US, with a slightly different track listing – sold millions, went to No.1 in the US and Canada album charts for seven weeks.
Alas, it ALL comes crashing down hard, when people involved say things that they’re not allowed to talk about, and having signed contracts to state they’d say NOTHING. Hence, in a way, there’s your ‘All or Nothing’.
In fact, their career appears to mirror that of The Monkees. I wasn’t around for their early days, but for their first album, they didn’t write most of the songs or play their instruments. Once this was outed, and they rectified this for their second album, the public had lost interest.
This Milli Vanilli documentary is essential viewing for anyone who remembers them at the time, or who has any interest in trying to get rick quick in the pop industry.
Again, it’s sad to note this all led to Rob Pilatus’ passing in 1998 – given that they got the full blame, yet loads of people were involved including Farian, who refused to be interviewed for this documentary. However, for Fabrice Morvan, he appears to be in a much better place, these days.
Just going back to Boney M, and the song Rasputin, for the lyrics:
- # Then one night some men of higher standing
Set a trap, they’re not to blame
“Come to visit us”, they kept demanding
And he really came #
Well, if those men set the trap which led to Rasputin’s death, then they ARE to blame.
Thanks to our friends at Paramount+ for the screener prior to release.
Milli Vanilli is on Paramount+ from tomorrow, but is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 103 minutes
Release date: October 24th 2023
Director: Luke Korem
Producers: Bradley Jackson, Luke Korem
Music: Mondo Boys
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.