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Listen Now: Blame it on the Fame: Milli Vanilli

Listen Now: Blame it on the Fame: Milli Vanilli

Update: 2024-06-031
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The podcast "Blaming on the Fame" delves into the Millie Vanilli scandal, a major pop music controversy in the early 1990s. The episode focuses on the story of Rob and Fab, two young men who were presented as the stars of the Grammy-winning R&B group Millie Vanilli. However, the truth was revealed that they never actually sang on their own songs, leading to their downfall from fame to infamy. The episode highlights the role of German music producer Frank Farian, who orchestrated the entire scheme. Farian, inspired by the success of artists like Michael Jackson and Prince, sought to create a pop sensation, regardless of the ethical implications. He strategically chose two charismatic and talented dancers, Rob and Fab, who lacked vocal abilities. To overcome this obstacle, Farian employed ghost singers to record the songs, creating a facade of musical talent. The episode explores the exploitation of Rob and Fab, who were thrust into the spotlight without any real control over their careers. The episode also delves into the media frenzy that ensued when the truth was exposed, highlighting the public's reaction and the ethical dilemmas surrounding the scandal. The podcast provides a unique perspective on the exploitation of young artists in the music industry and the complexities of fame and fortune.

Outlines

00:00:00
The Millie Vanilli Scandal

This chapter introduces the Millie Vanilli scandal, a major pop music controversy in the early 1990s. It highlights the story of Rob and Fab, two young men who were presented as the stars of the Grammy-winning R&B group Millie Vanilli. The chapter reveals that they never actually sang on their own songs, leading to their downfall from fame to infamy.

00:01:08
Rob and Fab's Press Conference

This chapter focuses on a press conference featuring Rob and Fab, where they face questions about their lack of singing abilities. The chapter highlights the tension and pressure they faced as they attempted to explain their situation. It also reveals the media's relentless pursuit of the truth and the public's reaction to the scandal.

Keywords

Millie Vanilli
Millie Vanilli was a German-American pop duo that achieved international fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group was known for their energetic dance music and their charismatic stage presence. However, the group's success was built on a lie, as the two members, Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, did not actually sing on their own albums. The truth was revealed in 1990, leading to the group's downfall and a major scandal in the music industry. The Millie Vanilli scandal became a symbol of the exploitation of young artists and the dangers of manufactured fame.

Frank Farian
Frank Farian is a German music producer who is best known for creating the pop group Millie Vanilli. Farian is a controversial figure in the music industry, as he is known for his use of ghost singers and his manipulation of the public. He has been accused of exploiting young artists and creating a facade of talent. Despite the controversy, Farian has had a successful career in music production, producing numerous hit songs and albums.

Rob Pilatus
Rob Pilatus was one of the two members of the pop group Millie Vanilli. Pilatus was a charismatic dancer and performer, but he did not have any vocal abilities. He was chosen by Frank Farian to be the face of the group, despite the fact that he did not sing on their albums. Pilatus struggled with drug addiction and personal demons throughout his career. He died in 1998 at the age of 32.

Fab Morvan
Fab Morvan was the other member of the pop group Millie Vanilli. Like Pilatus, Morvan was a talented dancer and performer, but he did not have any vocal abilities. He was chosen by Frank Farian to be the other half of the group's image. After the scandal, Morvan attempted to rebuild his career, but he never achieved the same level of success as he had with Millie Vanilli.

Ghost Singers
Ghost singers are singers who record vocals for other artists, often without being credited. The use of ghost singers is common in the music industry, especially in pop music. Ghost singers are often used to enhance an artist's vocal abilities or to create a specific sound. The use of ghost singers can be controversial, as it can raise questions about the authenticity of an artist's performance.

Exploitation
Exploitation is the act of using someone or something unfairly for one's own advantage. In the context of the music industry, exploitation can refer to the use of young artists without their consent or the manipulation of their talents for financial gain. The Millie Vanilli scandal is a prime example of the exploitation of young artists, as Rob and Fab were used as puppets by Frank Farian to achieve his own goals.

Q&A

  • What was the Millie Vanilli scandal?

    The Millie Vanilli scandal involved the revelation that the two members of the Grammy-winning pop group, Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, did not actually sing on their own albums. The truth was exposed in 1990, leading to the group's downfall and a major controversy in the music industry.

  • Who was Frank Farian and what role did he play in the scandal?

    Frank Farian was a German music producer who created the pop group Millie Vanilli. He orchestrated the entire scheme, using ghost singers to record the vocals for Rob and Fab, who were chosen for their charisma and dance abilities, not their singing talent. Farian's actions led to the exploitation of Rob and Fab, who were thrust into the spotlight without any real control over their careers.

  • What happened to Rob and Fab after the scandal?

    After the scandal, Rob and Fab faced public scrutiny and criticism. They attempted to rebuild their careers, but they never achieved the same level of success as they had with Millie Vanilli. Rob Pilatus struggled with drug addiction and personal demons throughout his career, and he died in 1998 at the age of 32. Fab Morvan has continued to work in the music industry, but he has not achieved the same level of fame as he had with Millie Vanilli.

Show Notes

When Frank Farian first laid eyes on Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, he saw everything he wasn’t. They were handsome, young, and Black. But Frank had something they didn’t. He had power.


So, Frank offered them a devil’s bargain. Almost overnight, Milli Vanilli’s debut album went five times platinum and scored a Grammy nomination. But when the lie at the center of their success started to unravel, Rob and Fab would discover the hard way the difference between star power and real power.


From Wondery, Blame It on the Fame is a story about the lie that shot to #1 and what it cost to tell the truth. Hosted by Amanda Seales.


Listen early and ad-free exclusively on Wondery+: Wondery.fm/BIOTF_MV

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Listen Now: Blame it on the Fame: Milli Vanilli

Listen Now: Blame it on the Fame: Milli Vanilli