I want my…no, wait. No I don’t.
What happened to MTV?
It has nothing whatsoever to do with the M anymore. So how did it get here and why?
Let’s get this straight. MTV (if you loved it or hated it) revolutionized a hurting music industry on August 1st 1981 at 12:01 a.m.
I’m actually old enough to remember staying awake for days watching it. ‘Video Killed the radio Star’ was the first video, followed by some tv static (while producers put in the next video, no kidding) then Pat Benatar’s ‘You better Run’.
Soon the VJ came on to introduce us. It was Birmingham Alabama’s Alan Hunter (by accident) who said, “And I’m Alan Hunter, Let’s get to it.”
In reality it’s a miracle they even made it. When they first started out, their selection of videos was incredibly limited because the concept of the music video was new to America. Britain, however, had been experimenting with music video “promo-clips” and many of the early videos aired on MTV came out of Great Britain. In fact, music acts like Duran Duran, who were not receiving radio airplay at the time, more or less owe their international success to the heavy rotation and repetition of the small cache of videos in MTV’s collection.
But it caught on quick. And changed the music industry just as quick. And like most trend setting moments, not always for the best. Music became visual, which was bound to happen. But now a great video could sell a pretty crappy song.
Looks and flash mattered.
But MTV had landmarks. With the show 120 minutes they broke underground bands like Nirvana, Weezer and Oasis to name a few. With Headbanger’s ball they brought and broke Metal. (real metal).
In 1988, they broke the color barrier with ‘Yo, MTV Raps’. The series is absolutely responsible (or guilty) with the spread and popularity of hip hop to the masses.
And do you remember the unplugged series? It was more than groundbreaking. Squeeze was first (for those who want to know such things), and then a litany of great performances followed. Paul McCartney redeemed himself, Eric Clapton showed he not only could play a Strat, and Nirvana proved that there were real songs behind their music. Don Henley, REM, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, and more memorable performances to name.
Then in about ’92, they aired a reality show called ‘The Real World’. The success of the show started a downward spiral away from music that changed MUSIC television, to just another reality show channel for kids with no attention span and acne.
So where has it landed now?
There is literally NO music on MUSIC television anymore. If “video Killed the radio star” then “Reality shows killed the video music star”.
Maybe with the popularity of Youtube it doesn’t make sense now. And they must have viewers, because they don’t seem to want to change a thing.
I’m not sure I miss it. I may be a little nostalgic for it….But they could be instrumental in truly breaking GOOD new bands and artist, and that I think is a shame.
Have any thoughts or memories of MTV?