10 Trivial Facts About Pop Up Video (Bloop)

VH1
VH1

Premiering in 1985, it took a while for VH1 to step outside of bigger brother MTV’s shadow. Helping it carve out an identity was Pop Up Video, a series that debuted in 1996 and anticipated the appetite for trivial trivia. Check out some facts about how producers got their inside info, and why Billy Joel wasn’t a fan.

1. MTV EJECTED A POP UP VIDEO CO-CREATOR FROM THE BUILDING.

Before circulating a laundry list of proposals to VH1 for consideration—including the idea of “narrating” a music video with facts in pop-up window boxes they called “info nuggets”—freelance producer Tad Low had been working for MTV. Co-creator Woody Thompson wrote on the duo’s website that three years prior, Low had been fired from the network and “ejected” with “two beefy security goons” escorting him out. The VP who released him was now with VH1. "Needless to say,” Thompson recalled, “our early pitch meetings at VH1 were a bit tense.” No one was tossed out: the network loved the idea and ordered a pilot.

2. THE POPS COULD’VE BEEN HANDWRITTEN.

In their pitch letter to the network, Thompson and Low floated several different possibilities for communicating trivia to viewers. Telestrated handwriting similar to what sportscasters do was one idea; a “crawl” similar to a news ticker was also considered.

3. PRODUCERS GOT THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM CREW MEMBERS.

VH1

To gather information for the 75-odd info boxes that would appear onscreen for each segment, Low and Thompson started reaching out to crew members who had worked on the videos, from hairstylists to limo drivers. Doing “You Learn” as a trial video, they discovered Alanis Morissette was averse to shaving her armpits and “kinda stunk” when she arrived for the shoot.

4. NOT ALL VIDEOS WERE BLOOP-WORTHY.

When scanning the music video landscape for targets, Thompson and Low gravitated toward popular hits that were slow to unravel—a more measured edit would give them time to insert the facts and let them appear on-screen long enough to give audiences a chance to read them. Videos with faster beats were too kinetic to Pop-ify. "Ballads are better," said Low. "Something like Green Day—forget about it."

5. THEY WERE TOO MEAN TO JAKOB DYLAN.

Bob’s kid was big in the 1990s, thanks to the success of his group, The Wallflowers, and had a sound that went over well on VH1. When Pop Up Video targeted “One Headlight,” Thompson said the network asked for it to be re-edited five or six times to be kinder to Dylan.

6. LIONEL RICHIE’S “HELLO” IS CONSIDERED THEIR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT.

GiraldiMedia via YouTube

For a video to take full advantage of Pop Up’s format, it was helpful to be both catchy and completely ridiculous. Lionel Richie’s 1984 video for “Hello” proved to be a perfect storm of awful, from a Playboy playmate who was presumed to be blind (she wasn’t) to a clay sculpt of Richie’s head that was used despite looking grotesque. Thompson considers it the show’s crowning moment.

7. THEY AVOIDED RAP AND HIP-HOP ...

… until the 2011 revival, anyway. In its original 1996-2002 run, VH1 had producers avoid videos featuring rap or hip-hop artists, believing the genres were the domain of MTV.

8. BILLY JOEL HAD AN EPISODE BANNED.

Getty

While Pop Up Video was never known for its gentle touch, some artists took their snark a little more personally than others. When the show covered Billy Joel’s “Keeping the Faith” video from 1984, the network received a call from an angry Joel, who claimed his daughter was being teased about jokes relating to ex-wife Christie Brinkley. VH1 yanked the entire episode featuring Joel’s video from their schedule.

9. THEY ALMOST WENT TO THEATERS.

When Pop Up Video became VH1’s highest-rated program in 1997, the network began looking for ways to capitalize on the format in every venue possible. Reruns of The Oprah Winfrey Show got the treatment; a quiz show debuted (and fizzled). More impressively, talks began with Paramount about re-releasing the 1978 movie Grease in theaters with the info-text boxes inserted. The studio ultimately passed on the idea.

10. THERE WAS A BOARD GAME.

At the height of Pop-mania in 1999, VH1 partnered with Pressman Toy Corporation to release the Pop Up Video Trivia Game. A small LCD screen allowed for questions to materialize while players took turns answering or singing. Billy Joel seemed okay with it.

Party Like a Hobbit at Chicago’s Lord of the Rings Pop-Up Bar

Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Replay Lincoln Park

One does not simply walk into Mordor, but one does simply walk into The Lord of the Rings pop-up bar in Chicago—as long as you’re at least 21 years old, of course.

Replay Lincoln Park, known for elaborate themed pop-ups for Game of Thrones, South Park, and other entertainment franchises, has transformed its premises into a magical reproduction of Middle-earth aptly called “The One Pop-Up to Rule Them All,” open now through March 23.

Inside, you’ll be able to crouch under an outcropping of tangled tree roots while one of the dreaded Nazgûl lurks above you, high-five a grimacing Gollum, and snap photos with all your favorite Lord of the Rings characters.

nazgul at the lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Nazgûl like to party, too.
Replay Lincoln Park

You might want to skip elevenses to make sure you have plenty of room for a Hobbit-approved feast during your visit. The menu, catered by Zizi’s Cafe, features items like Fried Po-tay-toes, Lord of the Wings, Beef Lembas, and Pippen’s Popcorn.

ent replica at chicago's replay lincoln park pop-up bar
Say hello to a friendly Ent while you munch on "Pippen's Popcorn."
Replay Lincoln Park

According to Thrillist, there will be three different counters in the bar, each with its own specialty drinks. Head to The Prancing Pony for a second breakfast shot (maple whiskey, bacon, and orange juice), or take a trip to Minas Tirith to toss back a palantir shot, made of silver tequila and passion fruit purée. If you’re in the mood for a little dark magic, you can trek over to Mordor and try a “my precious” shot, a fusion of dark rum, orange liquor, and Cajun seasoning.

lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Eye of Sauron is watching you order another round of Mordor shots.
Replay Lincoln Park

For those of you who are happy to accompany your Tolkien-obsessed friends to the pop-up but aren’t exactly tickled at the sight of a moss-covered Ent replica yourselves, take heart in this added bonus: Replay Lincoln Park also boasts more than 60 free arcade games and pinball machines.

[h/t Thrillist]

95 Years of The New Yorker Covers Visualized by Color

Screenshot via C82
Screenshot via C82

On February 21, 1925, The New Yorker appeared on the magazine scene with a cover illustration of a dandy drawn by art editor Rea Irvin, a character later christened Eustace Tilley. Almost a century later, Tilley still graces the cover of The New Yorker at least once a year on the magazine’s anniversary. Other weeks, they commission artists to illustrate timely political topics and evergreen moods.

The magazine has run more than 4600 covers in its 92 years of near-weekly issues (it’s currently published 47 times a year), all of which you can explore by color, thanks to designer Nicholas Rougeux (who has previously visualized sentences and punctuation in classic literature).


Using an algorithm, Rougeux analyzed the top five colors represented in every cover illustration and created a color palette for that issue. Then, he mapped out a palette for every single cover, creating a timeline of New Yorker design. It allows you to see what colors have dominated particular years and decades. If you scroll over the individual palettes, you can see the full image of that week’s cover.


Rougeux found some trends in the colors that have repeatedly graced the magazine’s cover. “Limited and muted palettes were used the 1920s," he writes on his site, while "possibly due to printing limitations, darker greens were more common in the 1940s, lighter palettes were used in the 1970s and 1980s, louder contrasting palettes were popular in the 1990s and more well-rounded palettes started being used since the 2000s.”

You can explore the color timeline for yourself here.

All images courtesy Nicholas Rougeux

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