Now that’s a scary thought…
MTV is older than the last girl I dated… : )
It’s hard to imagine the 80s without Music Television – you know, back in the days when the station played music videos.
We had heard about MTV, but growing up in West Texas meant we were at least a year or so late to the game. We had to beg our parents to add the channel to our cable subscription (and probably had to beg our parents to even get cable).
But, once we had it, especially during the summer, when we were home and anywhere in the proximity of the living room television, MTV was on. That was assuming, of course, Dad wasn’t watching anything else.
Instead fo just heairng the bands, we could see them. Before long, everyone was trying to do something different with their videos. Some would just be weird, some were artistic. Others would wisk us off to exotic locals or simply push the limits of sexuality on television. A few would push the limits of technology (remember Money For Nothing?)
I was trying to think of a list of things that were so cool about MTV:
1) The videos, obviously. How many 80s bands kicked off their careers or were propelled to superstardom through MTV? Duran Duran, Madonna, U2, Howard Jones, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dire Straits, The Fixx, Billy Idol, Men at Work, etc etc. How big would Michael Jackson be without his videos on MTV?
2) The original VJs. They all had distinct personalities, and every guy had a crush on Martha Quinn.
3) The crazy contests where if you were lucky you might appear in a video or have your favorite band play at your house.
4) World premiere videos. Depending on the artist, you had to be there to catch the “premiere” of the latest and greatest video. Of course, if you missed it, chances were pretty good you could catch it again in a couple of hours. How many people remember catching the 20 minute premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”?
5) The impact of adding pop/rock songs to movie soundtracks. I think “Footloose” had a major impact on this as well, but think about how many 80s movies had a pop/rock soundrack (and of course, related music videos) to go with it? Imagine “Top Gun” without the corresponding “Highway to the Dangerzone,” or “Ghostbusters” without its themesong. Hell, imagine any John Hughes movie without the soundrack. How many proms in the 80s just had to play “If You Leave” by OMD? Would Prince have made “Purple Rain”? Would Madonna be an actress?
(ok, forget about that last one)
It wasn’t all good – after all, MTV helped advocate the concept that “image is everything” where the music/talent eventually didn’t matter as much so long as the video worked (see – Brittney Spears)
Plus, MTV somewhat pioneered “reallity television” that now dominates most of the channels today.
Of course, these days, with the internet and access to video software, it’s easy for just about anyone, not just the bands, to come up with their own interpretations of videos for their favorite songs. It’s not MTV, it’s YouTube.
One of the other cool things is that XM satellite radio has brought the original MTV VJ’s back, and they can be heard on the 80s channel (and a couple of others).
So, MTV may not be what it used to be, but there are still ways to get a taste of MTV back in the “good ol’ days”
“I want my, I want my, I want my M… T… V…”