Mtv And It’s Affect On American History MTV History In 1954, the release of “Rock around the clock”, known as the original white Rock n’ Roll song and becoming number one on the pop charts, marked a turning point in the history of popular music and it’s success in the future. In the late 70s, early 80s, Reagan was president, then Senator Al Gore’s wife led the crusade against inappropriate rock lyrics and founded the Parents’ Music Resource Center(PMRC). The hippies became yuppies and began to devote their time to raising well mannered, preppie children. Rock music, a vital social phenomena among American youth, had grown dull due to it’s lack of style change from earlier music. Something new and modern was in need.
August 1, 1981, was a day that would change the history of music forever. On this day, MTV first aired with its very first music video by The Buggles “Video killed the radio star”. This video was also the millionth to air on Feb. 27, 2000, and third most aired in video history (Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” being the first). This new way of presenting rock music, through a 24 hour cable music video channel, would change Rock n’ Roll forever.
The first video was a new medium without boundaries, which meant that no one knew how MTV would impact artists’ careers or just how big MTV would inevitably become. Along with MTV came the modo” Sit back, relax and turn off your mind”. Music specials were already airing on certain television channels. In 1979, NBC-TV aired a show at the UN General Assembly, to help UNICEF raise money to combat hunger and to provide food for the world’s children. The show featured stars such as the BeeGees, Rod Stewart.
Donna Summers and a few others. Another special was aired on ABC-TV. A landmark documentary about Rock’s biggest names “The heroes of Rock n’ Roll” starring Jeff Bridges. The Grammy Awards were televised from Radio City Music Hall in NY, on Feb. 25, 1981.
A channel solely dedicated to music was in need, since the music industry was constantly expanding. MTV was a learning experience that gradually and completely changed the future of Rock n’ Roll. In the early 80s, Pat Benetar was one of the first artists to benefit from the new rock channel. “The heat of the night” became an immediate hit and spawned three US chart singles. She won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal.
MTV made her a recognizable personality along with other bands such as John Mellencamp, who took the appearance of a young James Dean, and was one of America’s most successful mainstream rock singers of the past two decades. Image began to be of great importance in the music industry since performers would, especially now, constantly be in the public eye. David Bowie, with his flamboyant style, was one of the great enigmas of popular music. In 1983, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” was the first music video to air on MTV by a black artist, marking a turning point for African Americans and their fight for equality and respect. His “Thriller” album generated an astonishing seven top ten singles, on its way to becoming the biggest selling album of all time with thirty seven million units sold worldwide. Madonna also made her debut in 1983, setting the road for her sexy new style.
MTV helped shape them into major icons of the 20th century. On Tuesday Sep.14, 1984, MTV launched its first Video Awards show at New York’s famous Radio City Music Hall. It was hosted by Dan Akroyd and Better Midler. Herbie Hancock dominated the awards with his ” Rock it” video, winning in five different categories. Performing live were stars such as Madonna, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart and ZZ Top. In the years of 1984-1985, MTV started to find its place in the music and entertainment industry, and began to capitalize on its unique position. MTV brought artists and bands into the mainstream, often bringing them to immediate stardom due to constant publicity.
MTV was expanding and gaining many fans along the way. MTV had no competition until Tuesday Jan.1, 1985, when VH1 premiered as a twenty four hour music video channel with Marvin Gaye’s ” Star spangled banner” video. Still MTV had nothing to fear since VH1 catered to an adult audience, while MTV focused mainly on teens and young adults ( early twenties). Van Halen was quite popular during these years. He was named new guitarist of the year in 1978.
They were one of the most successful heavy metal bands. Their lead off single” Why can’t this be love” reached number three in Billboard chart, while their album became their first US number one. U2 was one of the most popular rock acts of the 80s. They gained fame with their creative music videos and with their use of music, not just as mere entertainment but to raise awareness on certain issues of the world. This changing attitude towards rock culminated on Saturday July, 13, 1985 with Live Aid. This was the first rock benefit concert that brought stars such as Queen, The Police, Tina Turner and many others, together for a cause- raising money to aid African famine relief.
MTV broadcast the entire concert live. 16.3 million viewers in 156 countries and capacity crowds in Philadelphia and London gathered to watch the fourty bands perform for sixteen hours. The Cars and The Police were also popular in the 80s. Bruce Springstien is a great symbol of the success of rock music in the 80s. Rolling stones critic, Jon Landau stated” I saw Rock n’ Roll future and its name is Bruce Springstien”.
In the late 80s, music videos became more innovative and rock music took a slightly harder edge. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers led the way with their creative video “Don’t come around here no more”. They started involving actors such as a Kim Basinger and Johnny Depp into their music videos. Their body of work spans three decades of success. Peter Gabriel took music videos to a new level by introducing animation in his video “Sledgehammer”.
On Sunday May 25,1986, The Hands Across America concert took place. Five million participants in sixteen states involving president Reagan, linked hands to raise money for the hungry and the homeless in the US. In 1987 “Headbangers Ball” debuted on MTV, this show featured videos, interviews and performances by stars. CDs began to gain popularity and music sales rose 150% in one year. In 1987 MTV debuted in fourteen countries in Europe.
Metallica gained popularity with help from its public appearance on Headbanger’s Ball. Guns N’ Roses was one of the most controversial heavy rock bands of the late 80s. Although their music was a great success, their career was littered with incidents involving drugs, drunkenness, and public disturbance offenses. Aerosmith was one of the USA’s most popular hard rock acts, founded in the 70s but only being recognized and reaching great success in the 80s, due to MTV and the publicity of their videos such as “Dude looks like a lady”. Bon Jovi, Poison and Jane’s Addiction were also quite popular in the late 80s.
In 1989 Madonna, as part of a multi-million dollar deal with Pepsi-Cola, endorsed the soft drink with a worldwide television debut of her new single in a video commercial. MTV had become a 24 hour info-mercial, using every second on the air to sell a product or record label. In the early 90s, rock evolved into something containing more value and meaning. In stead of banging their heads, musicians started to think with them and use rock music lyrics to comment on complicated issues of the world. This was the alternative movement, when rock began to turn grunge.
Nirvana was the most significant icon for the alternative movement, especially with their debut of ” Smells like teen spirit” video. They were formed in 1988 and comprised by Kurt Cobain, their lead singer. Although their music was loved by the MTV generation and they had reached the climax of their success and it was still growing, on April 5, 1994 Cobain shot himself. This sparked non-stop coverage and a huge tribute from MTV. The wake conducted in the press wars were matched by public demonstrations of affection and loss, which included suspected copycat suicides. The release of MTV Unplugged in New York offered some comfort for Cobain’s fans. Nirvana was one the most emotive sights and sounds of the 90s, and with his death he had displayed the relationship MTV had built with it’s devoted fans.
After Cobain’s death, alternative music had gone mainstream and suddenly underground bands were evolving and growing in popularity. Bands such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam emerged and gained popularity quickly due to their performances, sexually explicit lyrics and decidedly fresh take on Rock n’ Roll. REM were the “darling’s of college radio” and became huge stars when “Losing my religion” hit MTV. In the mid- 90s, though the true alternative music no longer existed, many of the performers were still around and growing strong but with a slightly different style. Hole, an all women band led by Courtney Love, resigned on MTV and demanded respect for the women band. Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor, revealed the dark side of rock with their mind blowing video “closer”.
It was not the traditional style of music video, since it contained techno influences. Their music expressed human degradedness, through sex, drugs, violence, depression, and suicide, closing with personal emotional pain. They were one of the most talked about acts of woodstock’s anniversary show. Other bands such as Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers also gained much fame during this period mainly because of their use of lyrics in music to sent out certain messages. The Dave Matthew’s Band were confirmed as one of the most successful rock acts of the 90s. Mid-90s, the Beavis and Butthead show debuted on MTV.
In their own way they changed the rock scene and style as well. They became an animated version of video critics, while resurrecting some careers and infusing the scene with a sense of humor. Many viewers thought of them as a mockery of American society and at times revolting, but American youth seemed to enjoy this new way of presenting music and so it’s ratings rose. In the years between 1997 and 1999, the rock scene transformed into numerous genres and various bands and music styles were formed. These years carried the modo”Anything goes”.
Bands such as Beck and the Foo Fighters constantly tried reinventing themselves in creative ways. Others such as Bush remained more traditional and stuck with mainstream rock. Marilyn Manson with his odd and somewhat frightening appearance, created a new image for music. Moral majorities saw Manson as a “corrupting degenerate” due to the explicit content of his music and his offensive appearance. Teens and young adults were entertained by his performances and the sexual and violent content of his music and so he became quite a successful performer, some might even say a major icon of the 90s. Rage Against The machine, although with an aggressive music style, used their music of anger filled lyrics addressing concerns over inner city deprivation, racism, censorship, and many other important issues.