Bye Bye Music Television

February 11, 2010

From what I read, it’s now official – MTV is no longer Music Television.

It’s just MTV.

I missed out on the station’s infancy, but we were all aware of what it was. It might not have been available in our corner of the universe, but most of us had seen it on vacations and such and told spellbinding tales of what we had witnessed.

Those of us that did have cable had access to Night Flight on USA Network. The rest of us subsisted on the meager offerings of Friday Night Videos for the wonder of music videos.

Our cable providers didn’t offer MTV until 1984. The homes of our friends with cable was where we’d gather, often for hours, sprawled about some family’s den. I didn’t have the chance to truly maximize the amount of time I could waste with the channel until college a couple years later.

(and I did waste plenty of time staring vacuously at videos and MTV – with ESPN – was essential to a day of skipping classes and lounging on the couch when there was weather like we’ve had this winter)

By the time I was knocking out the last dozen credits I needed to graduate, we were already lamenting the sorry state to which MTV had been reduced. Our chief gripe was that the playlist was shrinking fast. Videos still made up most of the programming, but the latest clip by Janet Jackson or Bon Jovi popped up constantly and the more fringe acts in which my friends and I were interested were relegated to the middle of the night.

(we were often up, but we weren’t always home)

Of course, we were getting a glimpse of the future with some of the channel’s first attempts at original programming. Remote Control, the Jeopardy-like game show was on, which I dug – there was a great category called Dead Or Canadian.

And there was that dance show with Downtown Julie Brown.

(I thought Julie was fetching, but I had no interest in dancing)

There was 120 Minutes which was the place to catch videos by the college rock acts I was listening to at the time. But, though I discovered some new artists on the show, I was discovering new music elsewhere and working in a record store.

I didn’t need my MTV any longer and the channel was headed off the rails, condemning its soul to eternal damnation as it began to foist reality television upon an unsuspecting world.

It was fun for the brief time it lasted.

The 120 Minutes Archive catalogs the playlists for 120 Minutes through its years on MTV. I don’t necessarily recall a lot of the videos for the the episodes I might have seen twenty winters ago, but I do know a lot of the songs…

New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
from The Best Of New Order

New Order brings back fond memories of those years in college when it seemed as if every cover band in every club had at least a few songs by the group in their repertoire.

Kate Bush – Love And Anger
from The Sensual World

Having discovered Kate with 1985’s Hounds Of Love, I was eagerly awaiting the follow-up. I had to wait four years, but when The Sensual World finally was released, it spent months in my own personal heavy rotation.

(and you might recognize David Gilmour on Love And Anger)

The The – This Is The Day
from Soul Mining

Yes, it’s the M&M song and I say good for The The’s Matt Johnson for banking some nice coin after being essentially ignored in the States (I think that the project had a bit of success across the pond).

As for the song, it reminds me of my buddy Streuss who loved The The in college and it also reminds me of Paloma who loved The The when we met.

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
from The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. 1

The Smiths – there might be no issue more decisive between Paloma and me than The Smiths.

I’ve always enjoyed The Smiths. If you went to college between ’85 and ’89, you were legally mandated to be batty for The Smiths or risk being ostacized by certain segments of the pack.

I do dig a lot of their stuff. It’s wonderfully twisted and the music is candy-coated, but Moz’ drama wears on me in large doses.

Our difference in this matter escalated to something historical the day she declared The Smiths to be a better band than Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band.