Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Could there be anything more glorious than a silver jubilee? Especially when you're MTV, and the multichannel music video world your birth created has brought down Top of the Pops.

But the celebrations of the birthday have really shown up just what a stodgy old part of the music establishment MTV has become. Take, for example, its 25 most influential artists.

Bono comes out top. But on what basis? If the prize is for injecting an off-the-shelf glance at social consciences into the saleability of some humdrum music, surely Bono is merely a Geldof clone? If the award is for wearing stupid sunglasses after dark, then Bono is merely acting under the influence of Roy Orbison. And if the prize is for musical influence, who with a straight face can say that U2's music has been the soundtrack which has most inspired the musical landscape of the past quarter-century?

Pete Doherty makes the list - which could be sustainable, if the small London-centric scene the Libertines trailed in their wake is treated as historically significant. But if London scene needs recognition, then why not have Dickon Edwards there for the equally compact shudder of Romo. Or someone from These Animal Men?

More to the point, where are the figures from Madchester or Britpop? There's room for Justin Timberlake - who has barely released any music, never mind influenced anyone (slash fiction writers aside) - but no spot for even a Gallagher brother?

And then there's the Top 25 video rule breakers. The top ten is enough to make a grown man sob:

1. Madonna, Like a Prayer
2. Britney Spears, Baby One More Time
3. Michael Jackson, Thriller
4. Madonna, Ray of Light
5. Madonna, Vogue
6. Michael and Janet Jackson, Scream
7. Robbie Williams, Rock DJ
8. Eric Prydz, Call on Me
9. Jamiroquai, Virtual Insanity
10. Spice Girls, Wannabe

Like A Prayer is a good call - it did manage to get Maddy dropped by Pepsi; likewise, Thriller was key. But Call On Me didn't break any rules, unless we'd missed a meeting where it was decided that tits and ass didn't sell. And Ray of Light was a bog standard pop video however great the song was. Virtual Insanity and Wannabe barely even count as memorable - the Jamiroquai one particularly was so humdrum it could be sent into space to represent the default setting for promo clips.

Meanwhile, the half-decent VH2 channel has followed its balding-indie-kid market comrade the Amp into history to make room for MTV Flux, which is an apparently exciting opportunity for viewers to shape what appears on screen via the website. Like the way MTV2 used to be before they gave that one up as a bad job.


Anonymous said...

Ahh, MTV2. Pick your own hours. The pleasure of seeing the Auteurs, Ladytron and MBV. The pain of requesting Blue by Verve, and getting Lucky Man by the Verve.

ian said...

If you're going to send anything Jamiroquai related into space, make it the twat himself.

Chris Brown said...

I don't know what your German's like, but Die Welt has marked the anniversary by interviewing MTV Europe "legend" Ray Cokes. He's not bitter - much!

However, he does make the good if unoriginal point that the supposedly TotP-killing network isn't all that big on music nowadays.

Anonymous said...

i'm feeling very nostalgic today. when i was 11/12, and we got MTV Europe, it seemed like the best thing ever - so exotic and foreign. Ray Cokes was just brilliant back then.. the adverts for movies long passed out of UK cinemas, people from eastern Europe calling up with broken English and little to offer.. the Chris Isaak/Wicked Game video, the Pearl Jam/Jeremy video.

So I tried to watch some today. Needless to say I didn't last 2 minutes.

I'll never forgive them for doing away with MTV Europe - it was sooo much more interesting than this 'local' variant.

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