It’s Friday, which means it’s commentary day! This week is all about how dynamic the music video era of television was and how it left a lasting impact on its viewers. We may never see what we saw before on TV ever again, so it must be acknowledged. Feel free to hit the share button!
I was born in 1986 – the year of Pixar’s inception, Oprah’s national television debut, and the tragic crash of The Challenger. MTV was five years old while BET had existed for six years; VH1 was originally named Cable Music Channel and was created by Ted Turner as a competitor (whose target audience was older and geared more towards the adult contemporary demographic) for MTV, but was sold to the dominating network after a month due to low turnover. All of these channels providing cable viewers with the latest in music videos and other programming
Throughout my childhood music was always present: my mom had a Pioneer stereo that played some of the best music I’d ever heard, but it was music I hadn’t always seen on the TV: After 7, Bobby Brown, D’Angelo, Stephanie Mills, Heavy D, Full Force – I could go on for days, but I’m sure you get where I’m going with this. MTV and BET allowed me the opportunity to like my own artists and follow them as they developed visually. Through BET, I learned that I had a fond love of R&B thanks to people like Jodeci, SWV, Xscape, Aaliyah, R. Kelly & Public Announcement, and so many others. Hosted by Donnie Simpson and Sherry Carter, the urban network’s premier music show Video Soul made me excited to hear from all of the newest acts and watch them perform live each night. The peak of my week was every Friday night where, after a rousing night of TGIF programming provided by ABC and a nice bath, I watched their top twenty countdown for as long as my mother would let me.
I saw Boyz II Men’s “End Of The Road” video for the first time on Video Soul and almost fell over when I found out my mother bought their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony. I was seven years old, but it was just the beginning of my obsession with music television.
With MTV, I was exposed to the “other” side of the music industry: pop and rock, and I loved it. Bands like Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Guns ‘N Roses, Nirvana, Soul Asylum, Counting Crows, The Foo Fighters; vocalists like Mariah Carey, Lisa Loeb, Annie Lennox, Natalie Merchant, Alanis Morrisette, Suzanne Vega; dance artists like C+C Music Factory, Snap!, Real McCoy, Robyn S. – again, I could go on for days.