So, yesterday MTV and its sister stations (CMT & VH1) decided to do this thing where they played music videos for a specified period of time instead of airing reality show after reality show as they have been for a ridiculous amount of years. For a brief moment, I actually thought that MTV was going to take it old school and play a diverse mix of videos that spanned decades and genres. What they did instead was play a whole lot of Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift.
The three stations ran music videos for a 12-hour period of time, starting in the morning and running until early evening. Regular programming resumed once the “Music Independence Day” concept came to an end. I’m unbelievably curious as to how many people tuned in and if the network found any value in reverting back to their roots.
All this got me thinking about a couple of things.
Over the last 10+ years, music-loving youth have been without an organized medium for learning about music. I know the Internet exists now and people can learn about different kinds of music thanks to dedicated music writers and their respective blogs. And then once someone learns about a new band, s/he can just head on over to Spotify or Pandora or YouTube or a million other music-related sites to learn more and listen to the music for free. All of these developments are positive contributions, for the most part, to the world of music.
But, the model behind the original MTV concept was special on multiple levels. First, it provided viewers the opportunity to connect with thoughtfully chosen VJs who knew their shit about music and were now available 24/7 to share that knowledge with you. It was curated content that was immediatly consumable without the hassle of having to wade through a ton of content to figure out what was worth your time and attention. There were people on the other end-smart, funny, weird music nerds that you could identify with and looked forward to watching. The MTV of the ’80s was tangible in a way that reading a blog post or listening to a playlist can never quite match.
In an effort to see if these videos stood the test of time, I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday working my way through a four-hour long compilation I’d recorded when I was a kid and MTV had just become a thing. From ’82-’84, one of my favorite things to do was sit in front of the TV and wait for my favorite videos to come on so I could record them. It has been 30 years, and I still own that VHS cassette and I am still in love with a heck of a lot of those songs. The magic I felt back when I was a 6-year-old kid watching those videos for the first time came flooding right back when I watched them all these years later.
Below are just a few of the videos that were recorded on that VHS tape. May they bring you many happy memories and remind you of a time when things were progressing without all the clutter.
What, if anything, do you miss about how MTV used to be?