Meet the Belgian Singer Who Never Sang a Note

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Apparently lip-syncing is a universal form of art.

In his 1977 world-wide hit single, punky Belgian pop star Plastic Bertrand described the trashy-sounding life of the tune’s hero, whose approval of his seedy existence is evident in the song’s title “Ça Plane Pour Moi” (roughly “Everything’s Cool With Me”). On July 28, however, Bertrand finally acknowledged things weren’t really so neat-o: that in addition having never sung “Ça Plane Pour Moi”, his voice was also conspicuously absent on the four records produced and sold under his name in following years.

At least now we know how to say “Milli Vanilli” in Belgian (or would, if Belgian were a language).

Plastic Bertrand (whose real name is Roger Jouret) told the Belgian daily Le Soir Wednesday that the composer and producer of “his” music, Lou Deprijk, sang on all the recordings attributed to him. Bertrand says Deprijk agreed to give him half a percent of sales and royalties if “I kept my mug shut”. All the photogenic and vivacious Bertrand had to do under the deal was lip sync in public performances like his 1977 appearance on Top Of the Pops (video above), when “Ça Plane Pour Moi” began a run that wound up selling eight million singles—awaiting a re-recording of the hit by Bertrand himself as promised by Deprijk.

That righting of pop history never transpired, of course, and the pressure on Bertrand not to use his real voice to denounce the imposture grew with each new successful Deprijk-warbled record. Perhaps it was for that reason that when he finally spilled the long-suspected beans in Le Soir, Bertrand–very un-Milli-like—claimed to be the casualty in a 30 year career built on deceit. “I was the victim,” Bertrand insisted. “I wanted to sing, and he banned me from going into the studio. I was stuck.”

Bruce Crumley