Thursday, February 24, 2022

"Girl You Know It's True" by Milli Vanilli

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3762
Date:  01/07/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  2
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Dance-Pop, New Jack Swing


Pop Bits:  Both famous and infamous, this Germany-based duo of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were part of one of the biggest scandals to hit the music business in ages and it all got kicked off in the US with this first hit. Morvan and Pilatus were dancers/models who met in Munich. With similar interests and a goal to become stars, the pair set their sights on a career in music. Their first venture together was part of a trio called Empire Bizarre (with a singer by the name of Charlene). They would record the single "Dansez," which was released early in '88 on the indie Munich label Zip. It sold a few copies, but didn't do much to help their career. Things took a major turn when producer Frank Farian happened upon Morvan and Pilatus. Farian was working up a track and needed a couple of vocalists. With their model good looks and dance abilities, Farian brought in Morvan and Pilatus for the job. He offered them a deal and with the young duo wanting to be stars, they signed on without representation or reading the contract. Farian got the pair in the studio, but quickly found out that the quality of their voices were not up to his standards. Needing a finished product quickly due to a show already booked, Farian got other studio vocalists (including Charles Shaw, John Davis, and Brad Howell) to complete the track. Released in the summer of '88 in Germany as by Milli Vanilli, the song began to catch on. Morvan and Pilatus were sent out on some promo performance dates as Milli Vanilli, but they would lip sync to the track. With the song doing well, Farian began to work up tracks for an album. Morvan and Pilatus had asked to be more involved, but Farian basically strung them along and kept them just being the face of Milli Vanilli. With the other vocalists, Farian finished off an album titled All or Nothing and got it released in November of '88. Sensing success, Farian then got Milli Vanilli a deal with Arista Record in the US. "Girl You Know It's True" was issued out and it started to climb the charts. Eventually it would get to #2 Pop, #3 R&B, and #3 Dance. Around the time the song was in the Top 10, the All or Nothing album was revised, repackaged, and released as Girl You Know It's True. Within two months, it would be a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  Girl, we didn't know what was true at the time, but a year later we did. Millions of folks were duped by the deception (including me) and although Morvan and Pilatus were naive participants in it, the blame for all this sits squarely on Farian's shoulders. Although his career would take a bit of a ding, he still went on to form more successful groups, albeit with actual vocalists, and make a ton of money whereas Morvan and Pilatus were left in the dust. It was all so sad. Setting the controversy aside, we are still left with the recordings of a project credited to Milli Vanilli, which can be judged on its own merits. So the question remains - were the songs actually any good? According to some critics and publications, not really. Even prior to the truth coming to light, the LP made "worst of the year" lists including from Rolling Stone. However, 6+ million folks bought the album, so that says a lot. For me, I liked this song when it came out and bought the 45. Its rap/sung approach along with its new jack groove and hooks was a bit different and fun. It was saccharine-laced bubblegum that was perfect for the time it was released. I grew weary of the tune as it was all over the place and I lost interest in Milli Vanilli with their second single so I never got the album. I haven't fully heard this song in years and I have to say that for a product of its time, it holds up fairly well and is still kind of fun.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the Baltimore-based group Numarx. The group had formed as a DJ collective and in '87 they issued out their first single "Rhymes So Def." It did well locally and even got a little national exposure, so the group then followed it up with "Girl You Know It's True." I fared less well, however the tune saw some action over in Europe, in particular in German dance clubs. That is most likely where Farian heard the track and decided to do his own version. Numark would record one album and a couple more singles before folding. One group member, Ky Adeyemo, who is a credited writer on the song, was also a member of the popular 80s R&B band Starpoint.  2) Milli Vanilli was not Frank Farian's first venture into hiring faces for an already recorded song. In 1974, Farian recorded a song titled "Baby Do You Wanna Bump." He did the vocal parts himself and released the tune under the moniker Boney M. The record got some traction in a couple of countries, so Farian decided to put together a group to perform as Boney M. Of the four people he hired, only two were proven singers. Farian would use their voices along with his own to record tracks for a debut album Take the Heat Off Me. It's first single, "Daddy Cool," would be a major hit around Europe (#65 US). Over the course of four albums from '76 to '79, the group would score ten big hits in Europe with eight of those hitting #1 in their home base of Germany. The group didn't necessarily translate well to a US audience. Their biggest hit in the US came in 1978 when "Rivers of Babylon" got to #30 Pop/#35 AC. The group's fortunes waned in the 80s, but various lineups continued to perform over the years. The difference between Boney M. and Milli Vanilli was that members of Boney M. did contribute vocals on the recordings and other members who did not would later be able to perform parts in a live setting. Milli Vanilli, on the other hand, never got the chance to do either.

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