If you came of age in the 1980s and you were into music that was decidedly non-Top 40, MTV was a harsh mistress. There it was, after school, beckoning you like a siren-- so tangible, so full of promise, yet just so blandly god-awful. Video after video, you'd wait and wait in hopes of catching something remotely interesting, hoping and praying for a morsel. Maybe you'd get a video by Devo or Talking Heads if you were lucky. But you were far more likely to get Bryan Adams, Lionel Richie, Genesis, or David Lee Roth. Even Hall & Oates began to seem like a blessed reprieve from the mundane.
But then, magically, in 1986, something happened. If you were lucky enough to be able to stay up late on Sunday nights, all of your pent up anxiety suffered at the hands of Huey Lewis and the News was rewarded with two full hours of music that didn't totally suck. It was called 120 Minutes.
It wasn't perfect. Far from it. It suffered from numbing repetition, Dave Kendall, and repetition. Honestly, how many times do you need to see the video for "Bastards of Young?" Every week, apparently.
For me, the highlights were the guest VJ episodes. My favorites were Henry Rollins and Robyn Hitchcock. They're about as opposite as possible, but the one thing they had in common was that you didn't know what to expect from one minute to the next. It felt like it could all come crashing down at any moment. But it didn't. Henry yelled at me to go buy John Coltrane records and Robyn told lysergic fairy tales while he strummed the guitar. Those 120 minutes actually made the rest of the week on MTV forgivable, if unwatchable.
I've always wanted to be a Guest VJ, and now, thanks to the power of youtube and the internet, I can. And after the fun I had traipsing the limitless library of fantastic stuff out there, I've decided to make it a regular thing. So, every now and then, I'll put together a mini set of music videos for your viewing pleasure. This inaugural edition should explain exactly why MTV would never let me take the helm of anything other than a mop bucket. Enjoy!