I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution
“Craig Marks and Rob Tannebaum have penned one of the most comprehensive and informative histories of MTV’s golden age, an age that changed the face of music and impacted the lives of millions of people who took part in the experience.
“I Want My MTV is a bittersweet, nostalgic trip down memory lane. Though the demise of the 24-hour video stream is mourned, the memories still remain.”
The 80s: there has never been another decade like it, nor will there ever be. It was the “Me” decade. A decade of excess, big hair, big shoulder pads, big parties and the egos to match.
Sure we can laugh off those unfortunate fashion choices, the fluorescent colors, jelly shoes, the everpresent leg warmers, and ripped sweatshirts hanging coquettishly off one shoulder. The Internet and cell phones didn’t yet exist and music was still in the form of records, played on turntables—although the CD would soon be making its entrance.
For years, going to a concert was one of the only ways to see your favorite band perform. There were shows like “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” “The Midnight Special,” and even “Saturday Night Live”—all of which provided a glimpse of live music—but the moment was fleeting.
In August of 1981 history would be made when MTV came up with the concept of airing music videos 24 hours a day. Headed up by a handful of young and relatively inexperienced executives, MTV seemed like a pipe dream that would never get off the ground. Hardly anyone even knew what a music video was, much less how to leverage them.
Though the record companies and the musicians they represented would eventually revel in the seemingly endless spotlight of MTV, convincing them to not just hand over the videos, but to hand them over for free was a big—if not ballsy—request and something that would never happen today.
But the record labels weren’t the only ones who would play hard to get. The cable companies who would carry the channel put up the biggest fight. It wasn’t until MTV had a proven track record and started their on-air guerilla advertising campaign: I Want My MTV, did most of them finally relent—mainly due to their customer service departments being overrun—allowing millions of more viewers to tune in.
Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum’s unauthorized biography brings to light the story behind one of the most revolutionary moments in music and pop-culture phenomenon. Written in a collection of short statements, the authors take the reader through the hallowed halls of the fledging channel using the words of those who helped shape the early years.
The extensive commentaries by musicians, video directors, record executives, original VJs, and many others take the reader on a debauchery filled thrill ride as they wistfully recall a decade of excess filled with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.
Now, three decades later, the winds of change have blown. Video may have killed the radio star, but “The Real World” killed the video stream, and MTV continues to beat reality television unconscious. Not only are they turning orange-hued lugheads into stars and airing mind-numbing, intelligence defying drivel, but where MTV was once groundbreaking, it is now only opportunistic.
As of this writing, MTV will be making a reality show out of the Wall Street protestors, most likely succeeding in turning an anger-fueled fight for financial equality into folly.
Craig Marks and Rob Tannebaum have penned one of the most comprehensive and informative histories of MTV’s golden age, an age that changed the face of music and impacted the lives of millions of people who took part in the experience.
I Want My MTV is a bittersweet, nostalgic trip down memory lane. Though the demise of the 24-hour video stream is mourned, the memories still remain.