Tuesday, July 9, 2013

MTV's First Hour Videos & Biggest Moments In The Following Years

Yesterday in the Capital Times, a feature story on the MTV anniversary included a list of the videos the channel played in the first hour. Here’s the list, with YouTube links where available:

“Video Killed the Radio Star”/Buggles. This had been a modest hit on good old-fashioned radio late in 1979–which, given its sonic oddness, was quite an accomplishment. With its iconic images of video screens rising from a pile of old radios, if it hadn’t already existed, MTV would have had to invent something like it for its first video.

“You Better Run”/Pat Benatar.
In which we could finally see the pout.

“She Won’t Dance With Me”/Rod Stewart.
Balls-out rocker in which
Rod does an itchy-dance on a headache-inducing polka-dot background, shirt open to the waist. Clearly, MTV expected people to watch without really listening too closely, given this line from the lyric: “Got a hard-on, honey, that hurts like hell/If I don’t ask her, somebody else will.”

“You Better You Bet”/The Who.
Probably the best song on the list, but MTV soon made clear that the song was no longer the thing. I’m guessing
this is the video MTV showed– a concert clip recorded in March 1981.

“Little Susie’s on the Up”/Ph.D. The most obscure tune on the list, but not a bad one. If you wanted to play one video that summed up the early MTV vibe–bands you’ve never heard of doing strange things on camera–“Little Susie’s on the Up” wouldn’t be a bad choice.

“We Don’t Talk Anymore”/Cliff Richard.
Watching early videos inspires a certain nostalgia for those innocent days when dry ice seemed cutting-edge. However, I’m betting that the disembodied-head video effects and Cliff’s nifty T-shirt seemed uncool even back then.
Video aside, it’s a good song, though.

“Brass in Pocket”/Pretenders. Finally, a video you will probably remember having seen–Chrissie Hynde as coffee-shop waitress, serving the other Pretenders.

“Time Heals”/Todd Rundgren. State of the video art in 1981, it combined computer graphics and live action. It’s widely reported to have been the second video played on MTV–but clearly not if this list is right.

“Take It on the Run”/REO Speedwagon
and “Rockin’ the Paradise”/Styx. MTV blasted to popularity in small- and medium-sized cities first, because it was easier to get cable clearances in those places than in major metropolitan areas. And once it became clear that MTV’s audience was going to be comprised largely of white suburban kids, that meant REO and Styx until you couldn’t stand it anymore.

“When Things Go Wrong”/Robin Lane & the Chartbusters.
Boston-area new-wave band with a great name and a videogenic lead singer. How could it go wrong? After much success on a local label in Boston, they signed a major-label deal and promptly got lost in the major-label promotional shuffle. After two albums and a live EP, they vanished for more than 20 years, before the inevitable new-millennium reunion.

“History Never Repeats”/Split Enz.
This may have been
the first video to depict a singer lying in bed singing–but it wasn’t the last. Split Enz became one of the first bands whose career was made by MTV.

“Hold on Loosely”/.38 Special. Not a band you remember as video pioneers–but it was a live performance by a respectable AOR band, so it got on MTV’s air in the first hour.


Moments Of Sex, Drugs And Rock 'N' Roll
(USA Today website, 2006)

Along the way, the network made headlines and supplied countless indelible memories. USA TODAY'S Cindy Clark, Jayme Deerwester, Taryn Hartman, Korina Lopez, Whitney Matheson and Alison Maxwell take us back through 25 key moments.

1. The Birth Of MTV (Aug. 1, 1981)
MTV was born. A new concept — a television network dedicated to the young and the music they love — kicked off at midnight with a video of British band The Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star.  "Like any proud parents who count the birth of their child as one of the greatest days of their lives, MTV's debut is, without a doubt, still one of the greatest moments in the lives of everyone on the crew," says Martha Quinn, one of five original "VJs." Quinn recalls that the production team had to take a school bus to Fort Lee, N.J., to watch the debut on a small television in a restaurant basement — because Manhattan cable channels weren't yet carrying the station.  "As the screen got dark and that rocket went off for the first time, our heads were exploding. We were rebels with a cause, and we had the rock 'n' roll generation and the television generation behind us."  "I think we started as an idea with very little content; it was more like a radio station with songs and cheesy, hair-metal videos," says Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks' music/film/Logo group. "But we quickly realized the novelty of music videos wore off and was not repeatable with thousands of viewings. So we evolved into being more about TV production — yet still sloppy, live and organic."

2. Kiss Comes Clean  (Sept. 18, 1983)
The moment: Rockers Kiss appear for the first time without their faces obscured by gobs of makeup.  What made it special: The publicity stunt for the album Lick It Up was the first time the band members showed their real faces in public. Record and concert ticket sales rose, and the group remained makeup-free for several years. In 1996, the band reapplied its face paint for a reunion tour.

3. Ghouls Galore (Dec. 2, 1983)
The moment: The elaborate 14-minute music video Thriller has Michael Jackson morphing from a teen on a date to a werewolf and a zombie while he and an army of the undead perform a ghouly dance.  What made it special: Directed by John Landis, the most expensive video of its time ($1.4 million in today's dollars) bridged the worlds of cinema and music and forever changed how music videos were made.

4. Not Like A Virgin  (Sept. 14, 1984)
The moment: Madonna ushered in 1984's inaugural Video Music Awards with a bang (and a bustier) by performing her hit Like a Virgin.  What made it special: Though relatively tame by today's standards, her writhing on stage and sexually suggestive moves helped cement her reputation as a risqué performer and set the stage for even more risqué MTV VMAs shows to come.

5. A United Front (Dec. 15, 1984)
The moment:Do They Know It's Christmas, by the UK's Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, is released by the all-British Band Aid, which included such performers as U2's Bono, Sting and Phil Collins. By Christmas, the single had sold 6 million copies and raised $8 million to benefit famine relief in Ethiopia.  What made it special: Beyond being a stunning all-star charity drive, it led to the even bigger American follow-up the following March: We Are the World, which benefited the same cause. Geldof appeared with superstars such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Tina Turner performing a tune by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and conducted by producer Quincy Jones. Since its release, We Are the World has raised $63.1 million.

6. A United Front 2 (July 13, 1985)
The moment: The multi-venue music collaboration Live Aid, organized by Geldof and Ure, aired to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Bands such as The Who, Duran Duran and Hall & Oates performed around the globe, with main locations in London and Philadelphia.  What made it special: The outgrowth of Band Aid drew 1.5 billion viewers across 100 countries for the live broadcast, one of the largest-scale satellite linkups and TV broadcasts of all time. It raised more than $280 million. And in July 2005, artists including U2, Madonna, Pink Floyd and Jay-Z performed at Live 8, 10 simultaneous concerts around the world to raise awareness of world poverty. It drew an estimated 3 billion viewers.

7. Beach Blanket Bingo? (March 21, 1986)
The moment: The network set up shop for spring-break shows in locales such as Miami Beach, Cancun and the Bahamas and entertained scantily clad women with games, celebrity hosts and hot music, essentially making it one big (superbly financed) frat party.  What made it special: Other than taking voyeuristic TV to new heights, there were a few noteworthy acts: Notorious B.I.G.'s performance of Big Poppa in 1995, and Gavin Rossdale's band, Bush, doing Glycerine in '96.

8. 'Sledgehammer' Breaks Out  (Sept. 11, 1987)
The moment: The animated video for Peter Gabriel's hit single Sledgehammer, directed by Stephen R. Johnson, won Video Music Awards in a record nine categories, including video of the year & male video.  What made it special:Sledgehammer's unique stop-motion animation helped it become one of the most influential and popular videos in MTV history. Several groups went on to showcase animation in their videos, leading right up to current band Gorillaz, which exist in videos as animated characters.

9. 'Remote' Turns Us On  (Dec. 7, 1987)
The moment: With Remote Control, pop-culture freaks found a gem of a game show in host Ken Ober's basement. Also lurking there: future stars Adam Sandler and Denis Leary, in skits such as "Stud Boy" and "Andy Warhol's Diary."  What made it special: The show's writing set the bar high for future TV game shows such as Win Ben Stein's Money. Categories such as "Beat the Bishop" (math) and "Inside Tina Yothers" (anatomy) simultaneously tested the college-age contestants' education and useless knowledge.

10. That's A Rap (Aug. 6, 1988)
The moment:Yo! MTV Raps premieres, featuring interviews with rap stars, live performances & comedy.  What made it special: The groundbreaking show was the first to showcase hip-hop, even as MTV was getting a rap for ignoring the increasingly influential musical genre. The initial weekly format was expanded to six days a week as its popularity boomed; ratings started to fall in 1991 after Public Enemy's video By the Time I Get to Arizona was pulled for being too violent. Yo! ran until 1995.

11. Pee-Wee Returns (Sept. 5, 1991)
The moment: At the Video Music Awards, Paul Reubens made his first public appearance as Pee-wee Herman since his arrest for lewd behavior that July.  What made it special: It was his last appearance as Pee-wee. His line: "Heard any good jokes lately?"

12. Get 'Real' (May 21, 1992)
The moment: A "reality" series, The Real World, premieres. "Seven strangers (are) picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped."  What made it special: It launched a reality-TV format still widely copied. Now in its 17th season, RW has tackled social issues such as racism, abortion, alcoholism and AIDS — most notably with Pedro Zamora, a roommate living with AIDS during the show's third season.

13. Commander In Briefs  (April 20, 1993)
The moment: 17-year-old student Laetitia Thompson stood up during a televised Rock the Vote forum and asked President Clinton: "Boxers or briefs?" Clinton revealed himself to be a tighty-whitey man.  What made it special: Clinton's stance on underwear signaled a shift in the public perception of politicians. Of course, it also served as the first time Americans learned a little more about that president's proclivities than they may have wanted to know.

14. No Strings Attached  (Nov. 18, 1993)
The moment: The Seattle grunge band Nirvana stripped out the guitar feedback to play an acoustic concert for MTV's Unplugged TV series in New York.  What made it special: Without the growling grunge sound, fans were able to hear a band in its prime. Soul-baring performances of Polly and Come as You Are were highlights. It was also one of the last televised performances by Kurt Cobain, who would commit suicide less than a year later, April 5, 1994.

15. A Kiss Is Just A Kiss? (Sept. 8, 1994)
The moment: Newlyweds Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley hit the stage at the Video Music Awards holding hands, and they received a standing ovation.  What made it special: Jackson said, "And just think, nobody thought this would last." Then he turned to Presley and passionately kissed her. Everybody was right; Presley filed for divorce in 1996.

16. Cornholio Is Born (July 15, 1994)
The moment: On the animated Beavis and Butt-Head, a sugar binge causes the normally shy Beavis to yank his Metallica T-shirt up over his head and become Cornholio, a Nicaraguan rebel in search of "T.P. for his bunghole."  What made it special: With this classic episode, Beavis went from mere sidekick to show-stealer. "Cornholio" helped give creator Mike Judge enough juice to score a network show, King of the Hill.

17. You Gotta Love It  (Sept. 4, 1996)
The moment: During the red-carpet arrivals at the Video Music Awards, Courtney Love interrupted Kurt Loder's interview with Madonna by hurling her compact at them. The rocker stole the Material Girl's thunder when she stumbled on stage — babbling about everything from Madonna's shoes to her desire to be a candy striper — then fell down.  What made it special: Although Madonna maintained her composure, Love's brazen interruption marks one of the most embarrassing moments in VMA history.

18. A Big Lil' Stunt  (Sept. 9, 1999)
The moment: Lil' Kim showed up at the Video Music Awards in a one-shouldered purple number with an exposed breast covered by a pastie.  What made it really special: Tongues started wagging when she hit the red carpet. And then when Kim arrived on stage with Mary J. Blige and Diana Ross to present the award for rap video, Ross reached over and cupped and jiggled Kim's exposed breast.

19. 'Jackass': Tipped Off  (April 12, 2000)     
The moment: The reality series, about a group of guys performing often dangerous stunts for laughs, premieres and soon becomes a hot topic of conversation. Among outrageous stunts: Frontman Johnny Knoxville voluntarily sits in a full port-a-potty, and his friends tip it over.  What made it special: The port-a-potty incident put this group of skateboarding slackers on the map, as viewers tuned in to see which crazy antics they would pull. Knoxville went on to star in films, and Bam Margera got his own MTV show, Viva la Bam.

20. Gross-Out For Good  (May 23, 2000)
The moment: Comedian Tom Green invited a camera into the operating room while he went under the knife to remove a cancerous testicle for The Tom Green Cancer Special.  What made it special: In a year that saw David Letterman thank his heart bypass surgeons on the air and Michael J. Fox quit Spin City to focus on battling Parkinson's disease, Time decided Green was the gutsiest of all. The magazine recognized how the quirky comic "took his gross-out comedy to a new level on an unflinching show that took quite a pair to make."

21. 'Glitter' Isn't Gold  (July 19, 2001)
The moment: Scantily clad in a T-shirt, Mariah Carey made an unannounced visit to the afternoon video countdown show TRL, acting strangely and delivering ice cream to the audience. She told surprised VJ Carson Daly, "If you don't have ice cream in your life, sometimes you just might go a little bit crazy."  What made it special: It marked a sort of meltdown of the multiplatinum superstar, alongside the tanking of her movie Glitter. In the months that followed, Carey was hospitalized for "exhaustion," only to re-emerge in 2005 for a major comeback.

22. Diary Of A Mad Family  (March 5, 2002)
The moment:The Osbournes premieres, following the foul-mouthed antics of metal demigod Ozzy Osbourne, his manager wife, Sharon, teenage daughter Kelly and son Jack as they go about their daily lives.  What made it special: Much like The Real World, the series inspired a wave of similar reality shows that continues to this day, drawing millions of viewers in the process. It won MTV its first prime-time Emmy in 2002. Says MTV exec Lois Curren: "It was pure entertainment, seeing extraordinary people experience ordinary situations, like Ozzy taking out the trash or going to the dentist. God bless Ozzy. I don't think he even knew we were there for the first few weeks."

23. TV's New Honeymooners  (Aug. 19, 2003)
The moment: Premiere of Newlyweds, which followed the early married life of actor/singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.  What made it special: "Is this chicken what I'm eating, or is it fish?" Simpson's line while eating Chicken of the Sea tuna catapulted the pair to A-list status. The three-season show spawned Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen + Dave, which followed the engagement and wedding of Carmen Electra and rocker Dave Navarro. Both couples have since split.

24. Girl Meets Girl  (Aug. 28, 2003)
The moment: Madonna performed her classic hit Like a Virgin with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears at the Video Music Awards. The Material Girl caused a sensation when she shared an open-mouthed kiss with Spears.  What made it special: The network hyped a "big event" before the broadcast, but no one quite expected a same-sex kiss between a music icon and a pop sex kitten. "I didn't know it was going to be that long and everything," Spears told CNN.

25. Nipplegate  (Feb. 1, 2004)
The moment: During Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston on CBS, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson performed a duet of his Rock Your Body. Near the end of the MTV-produced set, Timberlake tore off part of Jackson's costume and revealed her right breast, adorned with a sun-shaped nipple shield.  What made it special: The incident sparked public outcry, and the FCC hit CBS with a $550,000 fine, the largest penalty ever against a broadcaster. The FCC has cracked down on what it considers obscene content.


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