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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The return of "Behind the Music": Or how VH1 failed to realize that interesting music has been made prior to 2003

While flipping through the channels this weekend, I came across some old MTV footage -- well, old for me considering I was in high school and college at the time -- of Beck, the Foo Fighters and Beastie Boys performing at the Video Music Awards.

Now, instead of making me feel all weepy and nostalgic for a time when MTV used to actually play music (and seriously, how tired, though deadly accurate, is that rant?), I couldn't help but think, "Why do they even bother with the VMA's anymore?" I'd rather have MTV just accept its new reality, no pun intended -- or one completely devoid of breaking new artists or even showing videos of the same 15 or 20 that have been crammed down our collective throats by the record industry-Clear Channel cabal.

An awards show honoring -- what -- videos nobody gets to see? How revelatory, MTV.

It's the least of my worries these days considering I don't bother with mainstream radio or TV to steer me in the right direction in regard to music. But I used to -- at least during the Alternative Nation heyday -- and honestly, there are some things that I'd like to indulge in from time to time, namely originally programming like VH1's Pop Up Video or Emmy award winning series, "Behind the Music."

Dormant since 2006 (although there was apparently a "New Kids on the Block" episode made in 2008), "Behind the Music" was the industry's version of a gratuitous disaster film since most of the subjects were picked based on the rise-fall-redemption arc. Those that didn't recover -- say Guns 'N' Roses and Milli Vanilli -- serve as memorable cautionary tales or running punchlines. Others, like Styx or Creed, just make you ridiculously angry because it reveals how truly awful bands can rise to the top so easily. Still others like Huey Lewis & the News or "Weird" Al Yankovic? Well, if you're a music junkie like me, that's entertainment bang for your buck, plain and simple.

Thanks to Jim Forbes' killer narration, "BTM" was always pretty riveting, even when the artist might not have been truly worthy (Quiet Riot anyone?) of its own hour-long documentary. So naturally, the announcement that "Behind the Music" is being resurrected Sept. 10 should have resulted in some excitement, right? I mean, I'm the guy who watched "Bands Reunited" features on Dramarama and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I'm the target here!

But alas, VH1 has killed any enthusiasm I might have had for an incredibly awesome"BTM" relaunch by picking bland new artists, police blotter mainstays and reality whores like Lil' Wayne, 50 Cent (wow, dude got shot a bunch of times. WE KNOW, people!), Bobby Brown, Pink, Bret Michaels (didn't they already do Poison?) and T.I. as initial profiles.

Now, I fully realize that I have an aversion to most modern hip-hop, so that strikes three from the list automatically. But Pink? Bobby Brown? And seriously, hasn't Bret Michaels been on VH1 enough these past two years?

With so much rich music history to mine from the 50's to the 90's, you'd think VH1 might want to bring some lost viewers back in the fold by profiling, I dunno, truly creative and influential individuals, or at least long-forgotten has-beens -- as they did with Leif Garrett or Culture Club -- who have some considerable wear and tear. Even profiles on mainstream bands with fascinating inner turmoil like Smashing Pumpkins or odd frontmen like Rivers Cuomo of Weezer would be cool. Or how about captivating personalities like Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Jeff Buckley and Morrissey? Man, I'd probably even watch one on Gary Glitter or that dude from Korn who got off drugs and became a born again Christian. I'm not asking for Townes Van Zandt or Elliott Smith here!

But no ... they want to tell me about why Pink thinks it's cool to dye her hair and why Lil' Wayne names all his albums "Tha Carter."

Awesome. Here's hoping Nickelback and Ja Rule are next on VH1's speed dial.

So readers, what artists would you like to see featured on "Behind the Music?" And if you write Michael Jackson, I will hunt you down and moonwalk on your face.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,



Korn, Radiohead, Coldplay, Incubus, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chile Peppers, and Weezer to name a few.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At September 9, 2009 at 7:04 PM  

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