The Quick 10: Happy Birthday, MTV!


MTV turned 29 yesterday! I wasn't around for that first day they started broadcasting videos on 1981, but it makes me feel old anyway. I'm one of those people who wistfully says things like, "I remember when MTV used to show videos," so to celebrate the era when MTV did just that, here are a few facts about the groundbreaking network.

1. Everyone knows that the first video on MTV was the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." But do you know the first words ever spoken on Music Television? They were, "Ladies and gentleman, rock and roll." Check it out:

2. Ever wonder what the deal is with the moon man image and what he has to do with MTV? Producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert likened the launch of an all-music channel to the impact the historic moon landing had, and the image of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon was (and is) public domain, so they used it. In fact, they planned on using his famous "One small step for a man" quote, but were told by Armstrong's lawyers that they should probably steer clear of using his voice and likeness if they didn't want to be sued.

3. Although many of the VJs and cast have been reduced to trivia questions these days, there are a few who can thank the channel for giving them their start. Among them? Adam Sandler, who was on Remote Control; Jenny McCarthy, who was able to go more mainstream with her career after hosting Singled Out; Colin Quinn, who was also on Remote Control; Jon Stewart, who appeared on a show called You Watch It before getting his own show; and Jacinda Barrett, who was a member of The Real World: London.

4. MTV succeeded where Ted Turner failed.

After the launch of MTV was so successful, Ted Turner launched the Cable Music Channel, which played all genres of music, not just the rock MTV focused on. The first words spoken on CMC were by Turner himself: "Take that, MTV!" And they did, literally: after just one month, Turner realized his station kind of sucked and sold it to MTV. They used it to form VH1.

5. A few other music programs MTV outlasted: Superstation WTBS' Night Tracks, NBC's Friday Night Videos and ABC's ABC Rocks.

6. Gene Simmons sans spackled-on makeup is pretty commonplace today, but it was quite the shocker when Kiss revealed their cosmetic-less faces on MTV in 1983.

7. Among the international channels MTV owns: MTV Latvia, MTV Arabia, MTV Estonia, MTV Pakistan, MTV Base (Africa), MTV New Zealand, MTV Adria (Slovenia), MTV Korea and MTV Indonesia. MTV Philippines just closed in February.

8. The first video ever retired from rotation on MTV was Korn's "Got the Life." It was the number one requested video on Total Request Live for so long that it was banned to give other artists a shot at the spot. The last time it aired was January 12, 1999.

9. For all of you font freaks out there, the font used for MTV's videos - you know, that little block of info in the corner that included the video title, the artist, the director, the year and the record label - was Kabel. That's the same font used in Monopoly.

10. Despite the reputation MTV has for being edgy, it has censored some videos over the years - and not just curse words. Here are a few of them:
"¢"Baby Got Back" by Sir-Mix-a-Lot has the phrase "dial 1-900" removed.
"¢"We Are All on Drugs" by Weezer was changed to "We Are All in Love."
"¢"Paper Planes" by M.I.A. has the word "weed" removed and gunshot sounds are changed to cash register sounds.
"¢"This Love" by Maroon 5 had the words "coming" and "sinking" taken out.

And a few videos that were banned entirely:
"¢"18 and Life" by Skid Row
"¢"Hot in the City" by Billy Idol
"¢"Be Chrool to your Scuel" by Twisted Sister
"¢"Girls, Girls, Girls" by Motley Crue

Any fond MTV memories? I distinctly remember hanging out at my friend Angie's house watching videos before school - Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" and Snoop's "What's My Name" specifically.