30 years of music videos and counting

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, August 21, 2011

MTV turned 30 on Aug. 1.

    Wow. Time has really flown by. It seems just like yesterday I wassitting glued to the TV watching my favorite music artists.

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    Music Television, when it got its start way back in 1981, was aninnovative boost for the music industry not to mention itslisteners.

    I had just graduated from high school and cable was not yetconnected to every house on the block. Aerial antennas could stillbe found on most homes.

    MTV made music videos a household word and everyone was chanting “IWant My MTV!”

    Not only did it help launch the cable industry, I’m sure it alsohelped many a musician’s career. Now, not only did they have tosound good, they also had to look good, too.

    The “big hair” bands of the ’80s took full advantage of those earlyyears and gave us memorable videos such as White Snake’s “Here I GoAgain” and Sister Christian’s “Night Ranger.” Twisted Sister’svideo “We’re Not Gonna Take It” helped propel the band into a 1980sicon and an anthem for all wannabe rockers.

    Other “Big Hair” bands like Aerosmith took full advantage of themusic video scene and probably enhanced their fan base later in the’80s and ’90s with videos that told mini-stories.

    Even so-so songs that probably wouldn’t have garnered much air playon radio found success via video on MTV.

    I have a feeling that some music celebrities like Paula Abdul wouldnot have had the success they received had it not been for musicvideos. Mixing electrifying dance moves and choreography was avisual appeal that music videos offered that radio play didnot.

    Up until MTV’s launch the average music aficionado enjoyed theirfavorite tunes via radio, cassette tape and the occasional concert,should one come close enough to travel to.

    With the invention of MTV, now all we had to do was subscribe tocable and turn on the television. We now had 24 hours of musicvideos a day.

    How prophetic of MTV producers who chose as its first video “VideoKilled The Radio Star” by the Buggles.

    A little bit of Brookhaven trivia: Bob Pittman, who grew up inBrookhaven and graduated from Brookhaven High School, was one ofthe masterminds behind MTV. I have also heard him called the fatherof MTV.

    After Music Television’s launch, other networks and cable channelsjumped on the bandwagon with their own versions of late nightvideos.

    MTV also coined a new term for their on-air personalities – VJs(video jockeys). Martha Quinn and Downtown Julie Brown are just acouple of VJs who became almost as popular as the videos theyhosted.

    In later years, MTV began getting away from rock music videos 24/7and broke up its programming to offer segments of alternative rock,metal rock and even rap.

    MTV continued to enjoy success throughout the 1980s and 1990s andis still going strong today, even though they have significantlyreduced the hours of playing just strictly music videos.

     In the early 2000s, theyturned their attention to reality-based shows like “The Osbournes,””Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica” and “Punk’d” with Ashton Kutcher.They continue to offer reality shows, many of which arecontroversial, like “16 and Pregnant.”

    Eventually, MTV launched several sister channels, which includedVH1 that targeted a more contemporary audience and Country MusicTelevision (CMT) that was aimed at a Southern audience.

    Now there are numerous MTV channels, each one dedicated to a littledifferent programming.

    I’m not much of an MTV watcher anymore, since they don’t play manyvideos. My favorite show there is probably “MTV Cribs,” a show thattours celebrity homes.

    Yes, MTV is much different today than 30 years ago.

    “I want my old MTV!”

    And how was your week?

    Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILYLEADER at (601) 833-6961 ext. 134, by e-mail attbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602.