Monday, August 1, 2011

MTV 30th Anniversary

The popular cable channel that once carried and popularized music videos was launched 30 years ago today. I was 10 years old that year. My family did not have cable until eight years later and by then MTV had gradually slowed down showing videos. Before getting MTV I'd stay up late on Friday nights to watch NBC's "Friday Night Videos."

Below is a You Tube clip of MTV's launch just after midnight on August 1, 1981:

The first video was appropriately the Buggles's "Video Killed the Radio Star."

And remember these TV ads with various rock stars telling viewers to call their cable providers and demand, "I want my MTV" ?

The music video days of MTV are long gone, and reality shows now dominate the channel's programming. According to this article, the channel used to be cool:

I know it’s hard to believe now, but MTV used to be cool, or at least interesting. Back at the beginning, when there weren’t a lot of videos, they had to play what they got. They had Pete Townshend and Sting (before he was a total prat) doing commercials. They ran Velvet Underground outtakes and local NYC bands and anything, at all, that they could run to fill the time and space. They had “VJ’s” (instead of DJ, get it?) that actually knew something about music. Martha Quinn used to be a dj at WNYU back when that was my outpost to hear about new music, driving home from my after-school job at the medical records department at the HMO. There was 120 Minutes and The Cutting Edge – both of which you would plan your week around, even if you had figured out how to program your VCR – and the old 60′s videos from Beat Club. There was plenty of crap, to be sure, but there was always something worth watching, something worth talking about.
I don't have cable now, but know that a lot of cable channels, along with MTV, have strayed from their original focus. And many music videos from MTV's early days can be found on Youtube.

Here is one look at MTV 30 years later. And another person laments MTV's revolution continuing without a soundtrack in this link. And here the same person remembers "30
Things We Miss About MTV":


30. Dial MTV

29. Beavis & Butt-Head

28. We're Dancin'

27. Street Party

26. Live coverage of Live Aid

25. The Cutting Edge

24. Just Say Julie

23. Yo! MTV Raps

22. Top 20 Video Countdown

21. "I want my MTV" promos

20. Liquid Television

19. Chris Connelly's movie reviews

18. Tabitha Soren's politics updates

17. MTV News with Kurt Loder

16. Downtown Julie Brown

15. World Premiere Videos

14. The crazy contests

13. Adam Curry

12. Headbangers Ball

11. Remote Control

10. The Young Ones

9. Al TV

8. 120 Minutes

7. The moon man

6. Nina Blackwood

5. Alan Hunter

4. J.J. Jackson

3. Mark Goodman

2. Martha Quinn

1. Music videos

Anyone agree? I'm sure a lot of you do.

And by strange coincidence about a week ago, I was looking through my stash of old Rolling
Stone magazines from the 1980s and 1990s. Among those from the 1980s was this one from late 1983, with the cover story: "Inside MTV: The Selling Out of Rock and Roll."

And from the pages of "TV Guide"'s August 4, 2001 edition comes this image (at left) of the magazine's celebration of MTV's 20th anniversary that year, saying "We Still Want Our MTV."

Do you still want your MTV?

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