Vanilli Is Back, and Nine Other Dreadful Comebacks
Girl, you know it's true. Vanilli (birth name Fab Morvan) one-half of notorious late-'80s lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli, is reportedly constructing a comeback. Most shocking of all, it is not even his first try. Back in '03, the dreadlocked pop-star wannabe released his solo debut, Love Revolution, to tepid reception.
That album was written, sung, and produced by Vanilli himself. This time around, it looks like he wised up and tapped major mix-masters the Alchemist (Eminem's DJ) and world-renowned Dutch house music sensation DJ Tiësto to assist in production. Yes, you read right. Hey, who knows? Perhaps Tiësto & Vanilli will be a top draw at Ultra's main stage next year. (They couldn't be much worse than LMFAO in 2010, right?)
This revival business from one of music industry's most infamous frauds got us thinking about the history of unwelcome, unsolicited comebacks. After the jump, check out our list of other ill-favored returns.
New Edition member and ex-Whitney Houston hubby Bobby Brown's new album, The Masterpiece, was said to be coming out at the start of the year, then pushed back until May, and as of now has no discernible official release date. Delayed new albums are never a good sign of a successful return to form. We seem to think the founder of New Jack Swing might be better off sticking to the 30-year anniversary celebration of New Edition under way than branching out on his own. Need proof, check out the one single from what will be his fifth release, titled "Get Out the Way"-- a flaccid piece of R&B that showcases just how deteriorated Brown's vocals have become.
The New Cars
There is no denying that demand for the bubblegum new-wave pop dished out by '80s group the Cars exists -- and thank goodness that they are now back together. But when the band's seminal frontman, Ric Ocasek, had no interest, Cars' guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes banked on it after witnessing '80s-influenced rock surge in the mid-decade with bands like the Killers and the Bravery. Without Ocasek, the two persevered and found a willing frontman in soft-rock balladeer Todd Rundgren. Perhaps it's slightly pardonable when a band replaces its lead vocalist because of death. We get it; the surviving members need to make a living and all. But when the lead singer is still kicking -- and is such an undeniable iconic force in the group's output -- replacing him is downright objectionable. Rundgren basically turned Cars' upbeat classics like "Not Tonight" and "Just What I Needed" into easy-listening snoozers.
Ugly Kid Joe
Annoyingly catchy pop-metal single "Everything About You" skyrocketed this California quintet to the top of the Billboard charts in '92. A mediocre power ballad cover of Harry Chapin's folk classic "Cat's in the Cradle" followed suit and kept them in the limelight for a while. The debut full-length, America's Least Wanted, garnered respectable sales. It was downhill from there, however; the band could never regain the glammy pop appeal of its hit single, and two disastrous albums followed. Recently, the group's drummer, Shannon Larkin (who also played in Godsmack), told journalists that the five-piece had reunited. The band now consists of the same group of fellas that worked on Ugly Kid Joe's worst-selling album, '95's Menace to Sobriety (the album that cost them their record deal with Mercury). Perhaps not the best move, boys? The unnamed big album is said to be completed but does not have any release date.
Los Del Rio
OK, this one is totally made up. As far as we know, Spanish duo Antonio Romeo Monge and Rafael Ruiz, who spawned the global novelty dance craze that was '93's "Macarena" (and altered the future of bar mitzvahs and quinceañeras until the end of time,) have no plans of reuniting after going their separate ways back in '07. But considering that their hit is still such a draw on wedding dance floors, we think bringing back the twosome's rollicking flamenco-pop makes sense. The Spaniards will need a big-time DJ to add some spark and modernity to their sound. Who better than global sound mashup king DJ Diplo? His background in worldly beats and experience in Brazilian carioca is the perfect fit. We can only imagine what jerky dance moves will come out of this pairing (step aside, "Ketchup Song" dance). Los Del Rio with Diplo behind the decks will rightfully earn a spot on the Carl Cox and Friends Stage at next year's Ultra, where thousands of narcotized teenyboppers will partake in the newest dance trend -- El Diplo Dip.
Giving credit where credit is due, this '90s electro-rock hybrid led the way for the indie dance revolution that would ensue years later with its megahit "Right Here, Right Now." Unfortunately not much else on their sophomore effort, Doubt -- and the rest of its career, for that matter -- resonated quite as loudly. This English quintet just will never outlive its one-hit-wonder branding. In 2003, the lads came together again and landed on the motivational conference gig circuit. We hear that performance consisted of one song with the same exact encore -- we are sure you can guess which track that was.
Alice in Chains
Guitarist Jerry Cantrell certainly had some big shoes to fill when he attempted to revive his heavy-metal-leaning grunge band in '05. Who could come close to hitting the epic, cathartic howls of his deceased frontman, Layne Staley? Cantrell chose relative unknown William DuVall, a singer who had cut his teeth with several cultish punk bands in the '90s and fronted neo-grunge act Comes With the Fall. Although DuVall's pipes had a girthy cadence -- in the vein of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell -- they lacked Staley's inflections of torment, thus turning what was one of Seattle's bleaker acts into something a little heavier than Nickelback. It was a postgrunge disaster.
We wish we were kidding about this one. Much like Vanilli himself, we wonder how much tolerance American audiences have for notorious lip-synchers? Granted, the younger sis of Jessica Simpson was caught just once doing the deed while performing on Saturday Night Live in 2004, and as far as we know, she actually sang with her own pipes on her debut, Autobiography -- but her credibility still took a massive blow. Back in May of this year, Simpson tweeted that she was ready to make her "pop comeback." We don't know what direction she will take after releasing urban-pop blight Bittersweet in 2008; suffice to say it will be something flavor of the month. The album is said to be completed by the end of the year.
Perhaps the most incendiary, divisive and influential groups of the punk genre, this band's attempted reunion in 1996 was a flash in the pan. Its former nihilist leader, John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon, turned into nothing less than a fat-cat capitalist trying to milk all he could from the band's 20th anniversary. Needless to say, Lydon's renowned sneer had lost its spunk by this point. Joined by Glen Matlock -- original bass player who was replaced by Sid Vicious, then won his spot back after Vicious OD'ed -- guitarist Steve Jones, and drummer Paul Cook, the group has tried to tour a few times after that, but watching Lydon current day doesn't even come close to the 20-something venting angst the monarchy. Lydon looks more a middle-aged man acting like an adolescent brat.
Guns N' Roses
Fifteen years in the making, Chinese Democracy was one the biggest letdowns in modern time. Perhaps in retrospect, it wasn't completely dreadful, but after Rose took all that time and spent a reported $11 million in production, everyone was expecting it to be his freaking magnum opus. It certainly was not. It sounded exactly like the workings of an individual who had obsessed over each individual multitrack with a fine-tooth comb, and the output was a bloated, pompous, self-aggrandized mess of a record. Ditching every single member of the original GNR, Rose decided to bring a new cast of characters who just couldn't measure up to the chemistry between Slash and bassist Duff McKagan. Lest we forget the mammoth disappointment Rose gave us when in '02 he staged a GNR comeback without any original members on MTV.
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