Music videos and me growing up. Completed with youtube clips.

A couple of days ago I typed in Stereolab on youtube and was pleasantly surprised that several of their videos came up. I have long known that youtube is great to see a plethora of skateboard video parts.  Music videos are more mainstream which means that they would have more of a chance being on there then the skate clips I cherish. But I never really searched for music videos until I typed in Stereolab. Soon I found the Chris Brown song, Forever, which I liked so much last year, so I watched and listened to that. Now if I have extra time at the internet café, or when I get the internet in my apartment (hopefully soon), I am going to search for music videos. Today’s blog will be a throw back to all the music videos I watched and their deep meaning. I think anyone under forty has nostalgia for these when MTV actually showed videos.

I’ll briefly talk of videos from when I was a young kid, because during my teenage years music meant much more. I had the Thriller album of course, and saw the video at a friend’s house because we didn’t have cable at that point. I think it kind of confused me but I liked the development of the story in it.  Also somehow I saw 99 Luft Balloons by Nina as a kid and being kind of enthralled by it, the song is great by itself, and the video had undertones of an eastern European cold war. At least I got that from it back then.

A little bit later in 1987, I must have been ten, I saw the Welcome to the Jungle video by Guns N’ Roses and it fascinated me. I think it showed a dark lifestyle that was so different from my comforts. The next day I begged my mom to buy me Appetite for Destruction. A week later she did and listened to it first, and then let me have it. I must have played that cassette a thousand times. Around that time, perhaps a little bit later, I saw the One video by Metallica. Maybe I liked the dark side, but that video and sound fascinated me.  Along the metal lines I remember seeing a Slayer video and it having a strange effect on me.  Pre 1990, their were also a lot of fun videos by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Chris Isaac, Beastie Boys, The Beach Boys, Run D.M.C. Jodi Watley, Bon Jovi, Motley Crew, Ton Loc, and I’m sure much others. At this point watching these were more like a way to spend a rainy day, but probably from 1990 to 1995 I tuned in for certain programs and enjoyed seeing and hearing new music coming out.

I’m trying to remember the timeframe, but it was probably late middle school and early high school. I got in a routine of watching MTV late at night or sometimes when I got back from school. The programs I watched included Headbanger’s Ball, 120 minutes, and YO! MTV Raps. By high school I also tuned in to Rap City on BET.  Probably the strongest music experience of that time was not a video, but when I heard the cassette of Doolittle by the Pixies. But a lot of the times I got introduced to music by the videos I saw on cable. I think today teenagers learn of new music from the internet or the radio. When I was a teenager the internet did not exist, so the music video genre thrived. I have not watched MTV in years, but I can’t say I blame them for adapting to the times to adjust to reality shows and whatever else. On Headbanger’s Ball I remember the abstract Alice and Chains videos, Nirvana, Anthrax, and I’m sure others. I mostly watched that in middle school. But Nirvana reminds of bands like Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Oasis, Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, The Cranberries, The Smashing Pumpkins and so many popular bands from the early nineties got introduced to the world through music videos. Another MTV program 120 Minutes was something special for a couple of years. I don’t know how long it was on the air but it was once a week and it was a two hour programs.  Through this program I videos by these artists: Siouxie and the Banshees, Mazey Star, Janes Addiction, The Breeders, Sonic Youth, Lush, Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Radiohead, Cracker, and I’m sure a lot more. This program really intrigued me because I loved seeing new videos and hearing new sounds. I feel that the alternative music (not necessarily grunge music) was really something in the early nineties and people should revisit that period. YO MTV Raps introduced me to rap beyond Run D.M.C. and The Beastie Boys. I think my freshman year or so I started watching Rap City on BET as well.  1990-1995 was an interesting time for rap and hip hop just as it was for alternative music. Probably the game changer was It’s a G-Thing by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. It was mainstream but I think gauged everyone’s interest. It’s a fun song and fun video. Other the next couple of years’ cable introduced me to Cyprus Hill, Pharcyde, Wu-tang, Outcast, and Nas.  The Nas album that I got soon after I enjoyed for years and it was a theme of a short story I wrote in late 2006.  Basically having access to these programs made my knowledge of music much more than someone that did not tune in.

Shortly after high school I continued to watch these music videos, but it did not seem as eye opening as when I was younger. But in 1997 in the middle of the night during a psychotic episode I saw the Bittersweet Symphony video by the Verve, and was truly stunned. I turned the volume up which worried my sister. But it was such a unique sound and the video is simply Richard Ashcroft looking druggy gaunt walking fast down the street. When I saw it I immediately related to the sorrow and urgency of his mission.  Soon after I bought the album and it was the soundtrack of that year.  After that until 2003 or so I kept up with music to some degree but mostly through recommendations from friends, online reviews, downloads, and the old fashion way called the radio. So the music video had a definite shelf life of about a decade 1988 to 1998, and it may never mean as much for future generations. That’s okay, popular culture has to change, progress, and not remain stale.

And now for your viewing pleasure, here a couple of music videos I enjoyed courtesy of Youtube:

Welcome to the Jungle by GNR

One by Metallica

We’ve got the Jazz by A Tribe Called Quest

Today by Smashing Pumpkings

It Ain’t Hard to Tell by Nas

Bittersweet Symphonty by The Verve

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