Blog Entry

MTV

Posted on: January 17, 2008 11:41 pm
 

My family moved from Western Massachusetts to White Plains, New York in 1983.  Back in those dark days, there was no cable in the hinterlands of western New England (at least where we lived), so moving to a metropolitan area like White Plaiins (which is about a half hour north of NYC) was quite an eye-opener for me.  I was fourteen years old.

This was my first exposure to MTV.  Back when it still had the format of an FM radio station, play songs(videos), brief interludes of djs(vjs) introducing songs, and commercials.  It was a great concept, but, in retrospect, bound for what it's become today.  But this isn't about the evolution of MTV into what it is today, this is strictly waxing nostalgic.

If my memory serves me well, the first video I saw on MTV was "White Wedding", by Billy Idol.  Man, what an experience!  A great hard rocking song with gothic imagery and interludes that had nothing to do with anything.  Again, I'm getting off-topic.  The evolution of the music video is a topic unto itself.  I'm here to talk about the music.

I was inspired to write this based on something I posted on the "What are you listening to" post the other day.  I was introduced to artists such as The Violent Femmes, Romeo Void, Siouxie and the Banshees, Talking Heads, and Laurie Anderson through MTV.  At its inception, MTV was a revolutionary thing which knew no boundaries and was not beholden to the corporate ethos.  What hasbecome of it is the inevitability of success.  Back then, you would see old videos like "These Boots Are Made for Walking" by Nancy Sinatra, "Light my Fire" by The Doors, and even more obscure songs like "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

The infancy of MTV was an important factor in my musical development, Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't believe that today's youth will get the same caliber of musical influences today that I got from the early days of MTV.

Category: General
Comments

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: February 1, 2008 9:03 am
 

MTV

MJ, I didn't know you were a lower westchester boy (albeit an immigrant).  I guess that gives us more to talk about on WAYLT.



Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2008 1:18 pm
 

MTV

And to you, Herd, who's good taste I've come to recognize, It was good fun watching tnat stuff before the record companies grabbed hold of it as yet another medium to boost sales....



Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2008 1:13 pm
 

MTV

Thank you very much for the compliment, mj, much appreciated.  Most of the comments I made were off the cuff, although I found myself responding like I would as if it were a question on a university exam...  Old habits die hard, as the old saying goes, I guess..

And yeah, peer pressure was something recognized very early by advertizers-  It is a very compelling psychological angle to pursue, and of course they will exploit it...  The bottom line is the bottom line...  And yes, we can unfortunately expect for advertising  to become evermore increasingly psychological in nature.  Where ever an edge can be found over a competitor, it will be exploited...




Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: January 19, 2008 2:28 pm
 

MTV

Good post DFIJ, you make some very salient points.  Yes image is part of advertising, but what is even more insidious is the underlying theme, "If you don't use our product, you will be a loser."  Does anyone remember the old Whisk commercials?  You've got Ring Around The Collar!!!  Has any of you actually looked at a persons shirt looking for ring around the collar?  But if you don't use Whisk, you are a failure as a mother and wife.

The seventies were definitely an interesting time for pop music.  It was the era of the singer/songwriter as well as the stadium band.  It was the era of the sappy love song as well the the super anthem.  Style truly began to overtake substance in the seventies, and big money was the driving force, as it is in all things.  Kiss was one of the first to realize this, and they made millions upon millions of dollars unabashedly marketing themselves.  Action figures, lunchboxes, movies, cartoons, you name it.  They were not so much a band, as a brand.  I suspect if you said this to Gene Simmons, he would not disagree (no offense intended to any Kiss fans).

Radio killed the novel, TV killed the radio serial, what will kill TV?  I guess a strong argument could be made for the medium we are using right now.  I know I spend more time in front of my PC than in front of my TV, with the exception of Sundays during football season.

 

Herd, I remeber Friday Night Videos, if I'm not mistaken, the first video I saw on it was "Queen of Hearts" by Juice Newton.




Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: January 19, 2008 1:04 pm
 

MTV

Da Fan, I remeber the Friday Night Videos, back when there was still music on the tv!!

MTV to me nowadays is a joke, I bet I haven't watched for than a few minutes of it in the last 10 years.  It seems everytime I surf past MTV its just some crap, do they ever play music videos anymore??




Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: January 19, 2008 10:54 am
 

MTV

Well mj, here I was going to toss in my two cents (er, two yen, I guess I oughtta say...), but patz came along and stole me thunder.  I fear I would  wind up paraphrasing what he just said very well...

But here goes anyway...  Like you, I didn't get MTV when the music videos first came out, either.  But we did have a local hour long production called "Friday Night Videos" that aired at midnight Friday that showed the latest & included requests and so on.  I used to actually look forward to it.  Some were just plain silly (think Twisted Sister "I Wanna Rock"), but others were genuinely creative (think Peter Gabriel's "Sledge Hammer", or Herbie Hancock's "Rockit").  In any case, all in all it was good fun.

But you know, image has been a part of marketing since marketing began, and popular music has always, to some extent, been about marketing and sales.  Even the women scrubbing away that were painted in the prints and magazine ads a hundred years ago advertizing "Bon Ami" or something were pretty.  Fast forward 40 years, and you have Frank Sinatra.  Great talent, but not a bad looking guy, either.  Jump to the 50's, and ditto for Elvis.  The great thing about much of the popular music of the 60's to early-mid 70's was that whether or not it was original music played with skill and sincerity actually counted for something among the music buying general public, and therefore meant something to the record companies as well. 

I think that that began to change in the late 70's early 80's, and in that sense, videos arrived just in time...  What I think has happened now, however, is that with the coming of videos (and particularly music companies realizing and then exploiting the marketing potential) is that the videos/imagery have become at least as important as the songs that they are supposidly expressing.  That's not to say that there aren't some interesting and original videos out there, but in the absence of a generally discerning public taste, it has all too often become imagery without substance-  whatever is catchy, and will sell, will do just fine...

Before TV dramas, there were radio dramas.  You actually had to pay attention, apply listening skills, and use your imagination (and before radio dramas, books, by golly).  Along comes television, and where are the radio dramas now?  Maybe a few, like "The Shadow" are kicking around somewhere in the Library Of Congress, and that is just about it.  You mentioned, mj, "Video Killed The Radio Star".   It could also be said that similarly, TV drama had previously killed the radio drama star.  Video imagery spoon feeds in the same sense-  All to often to the detriment of the actual music involved...  I am afraid to say it, but it has been a pretty logical and predictable sequence of events stemming from the fact that for most of us, sight is the primary sense.   I think that  Marshall McLuhan put it well when he famously said "The medium is the message"...

So I guess that I managed my "two yen worth" after all, here...

BTW, Sherm, "spoon feeding" or not, I do like "King Of The Hill".  Very good show... 




Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: January 19, 2008 7:04 am
 

MTV

Well said, Patz.  It's funny to see some of the conceptual videos from the early eighties.  By todays standards, they are very amateurish, but I remember marveling at the technical innovations at the time.  It's sadly true that MTV has spawned a lot of artists that are more style than substance.  Artists like Janis Joplin and "Mama" Cass Elliot would surely have wallowed in obscurity had they been coming of age in the MTV era.

Sherm, I've never watched "King of the Hill", but "Beavis and Butthead came along when I was no longer really watching MTV, the few times I saw it, I wasn't impressed.  Was Mike Judge making a social commentary with that cartoon, or merely playing to the MTV audience?




Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: January 18, 2008 11:22 pm
 

MTV

MTV has become the radio sation of the new generation - just a channel on TV to spoon feed youth into watching and hearing what other people want them to, talking like they do, and dressing like it also. It has killed any spark of origionality in music, and keeps children from actually looking for true alternatives to the pop culture.

Is that why I like "King of the Hill"? Bevis & Butthead fed that... Rock on...  I get your point though.



Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: January 18, 2008 11:15 pm
 

MTV

 




Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: January 18, 2008 9:55 am
 

MTV

From somone that watched MTV from the day it started (yes, I saw the first airing of the Buggle's video, and it was an ironic premonition), I remember remarking to my friend that the Real Life would be the beginning of the downfall of MTV as a station to watch. That was the beginning of the slide into the crap that is now broadcasted on the channel 24/7.  I remember when the station was about the music, then the channel became a place where the music did not matter, it was only how "good" you looked in your videos. I cannot tell you how many groups have been commercially shut down due to the fact that they did not meet the criteria of being good to look at while they sang - one in the forefront of my memory is the group Heart.

In actuality, MTV became the bane of any serious musician. It is all about how much skin you can show during a 4 minute promo of your song, and nothing about the music that supplies what is now just a backdrop to the debauchery on film. It pains me to think of what the station could have been - so much that I cannot even look at the channel anymore. Its sickening that you have to order their sister stations (MTV 2 and 3) in order to actually see any videos at all.

MTV has become the radio sation of the new generation - just a channel on TV to spoon feed youth into watching and hearing what other people want them to, talking like they do, and dressing like it also. It has killed any spark of origionality in music, and keeps children from actually looking for true alternatives to the pop culture.



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