Milli Vanilli – Blame it on the Rain

First Hit #1: November 25, 1989

Yesterday, I wrote that Diane Warren’s songwriting tends to take over and render bands somewhat indistinct. So it’s a surprise that Milli Vanilli, of all groups, can turn Warren into something their own. It’s still possible to recognize her voice in the song, but Frank Farian and crew chop it up with some distinct, vaguely tropical percussion and lead vocals that distort her propensity for big moments through a R&B lens. It’s different than what you expect it to sound like, and it’s almost a battle of wills between two distinct musical visions. Sometimes such battles result in a mess, but here it almost works. The problem is that it’s an extremely repetitive song, and the repeated line “Blame it on the Rain” isn’t sung with much variation, meaning it starts to grate after a while. Still, it makes me think Warren’s songs should be given to more people who aren’t rock bands in search of a ballad, including control-freak producers who front their bands with German models.

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One Response to Milli Vanilli – Blame it on the Rain

  1. RBerman says:

    I used to think singers who wrote their own lyrics were better than singers who don’t. That’s a silly generalization. Many singers are songwriters, but few are great songwriters, either with melodies or music. Does anyone think less of Mozart or Beethoven or Bach because they didn’t write their own words? (Granted, all three of those guys were awesome keyboard players since childhood.) If you happen to be some kind of remarkable triple-threat who can sing and write melodies and write lyrics, good for you. Otherwise, you ought to hire somebody who’s really good at their part, and you can do the part that you’re really good at, rather than settling for mediocrity. Specialization is what separates men from insects.

    But alas, financial forces conspire to make singers pretend they are songwriters, because that’s what keeps those royalty checks coming in decade after decade. For Diane Warren, that means she gets to live in luxury without setting foot in a recording studio or concert hall. For performers, that means everybody tries to grab a piece of the writing pie. Modern songs often have an amazingly low ratio of notes-per-credited-author. Even “She Drives Me Crazy” has two authors to credit for its twelve note melody, counting both verse and chorus. Six notes per author! Not a bad gig, if you can get it.

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