<p>Kurt Cobain on &quot;MTV&nbsp;Unplugged&quot;</p>

Kurt Cobain on "MTV Unplugged"

Credit: MTV

MTV's 30th Anniversary: 12 Famous and Infamous Moments

We reflect on the network, now no longer 20-something

On Aug. 1, MTV turns 30. The big 3-0. The channel is now much older than anyone in the 12-24 demographic it caters to.

I was music video editor at Billboard in the early ‘90s. Covering MTV fell under my purview and it felt like the largest, most powerful force not just in the music industry, but in pop culture. That’s because it was.  This was before the internet. This was before the dominance of video games. MTV wasn’t just king of the mountain, it was the mountain.

To be sure, there were other music video outlets—VH1, BET, TNN (The Nashville Network), CMT, “Friday Night Videos,” and several dozen local  and regional video shows (virtually all of which died off when labels began charging for videos), but nothing came close to MTV’s reach and breadth. It’s hard to imagine any one entity now having the power that MTV once had; we’re too diffuse and we get our entertainment delivered through too many different ways.

While I was music video editor, MTV was spreading its manifest destiny across the world and it never ceased to amaze me that certain Eastern Bloc countries may have still been in political and civil turmoil back then, but, by God, they would have their MTV. The company, and many of its employees, had an evangelical zeal that bordered on scary. During my tenure, MTV wanted to pretend it was still run by the cool kids, but it was already owned by Viacom and was very corporate, despite its deep desire to appear otherwise. A publicist sat in on every interview and the spin came fast, furious and, occasionally,  with a very heavy hand.

Some fellow journalists are writing a book about MTV’s first 30 years and the significant impact the channel has had on history. I can’t wait to read it. But in the meantime, here is my highly subjective list of MTV’s 12 most influential moments in chronological order.

“Video Killed The Radio Star” (1981):
  Any story about the history and significance of MTV has to include the first clip ever played on the channel for its 1981 launch. The clip, by British New Wave group The Buggles, proved very prophetic as MTV signaled the cultural shift of image over music. Ugly bands could no longer get signed.

 “Billie Jean” (1982):
Prior to adding the opening clip from Michael Jackson’s 1982’s “Thriller,” a then 18-month old MTV played very few videos by black artists, as it considered itself an album rock format.  CBS Records swears they played hardball with MTV to force them to play “Billie Jean,” MTV execs swear they always planned to play “Billie Jean,” and needed no arm twisting. Regardless of how it happened, adding “Billie Jean” to MTV’s rotation swung open the doors for black artists like Prince at the channel and catapulted Jackson’s career.

“Thriller” (1983): If “Billie Jean” bolstered Jackson’s superstar career, the “Thriller” video rocketed it—and MTV—into the stratosphere. MTV ponied up $1 million for the exclusive rights to the 14-minute clip, marking the first time MTV paid a label to air a video (paving the way for the exclusive label deals to come later that increased MTV’s dominance). MTV played the John Landis-directed mini-movie five times a day, a shrewd move that made MTV destination viewing and spiked ratings tenfold.

LiveAid” (1985): Though there had been multi-artist benefit concerts before, none had been televised from start to finish as MTV did with LiveAid. Beaming back and forth between London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, MTV changed such concerts into global events with the world watching. ABC broadcast during primetime, but MTV kept the cameras rolling for the entire 16 hours (albeit with commercials).

120 Minutes” (1986): As MTV’s regular programming became more mainstream, the channel  took two hours out of every week for truly alternative music videos that were hard to see anywhere else. Originally hosted by Dave Kendall (and later Matt Pinfield), the first few years of “120 Minutes” were a wonderful place to learn about The Replacements, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Robyn Hitchcock, and all manner of rockers that weren’t finding homes on mainstream radio. If nothing else, “120” earns its place on this list for hosting the world premiere of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video in 1991. ("120 Minutes" was resurrected July 31 on MTV2 with Pinfield)

The Real World” (1992): Arguably the first reality show, “The Real World” is the network’s longest running program. Though the concept is so commonplace now: throw some strangers into a house and keep cameras rolling 24/7, back then, the sociological experiment was something new. It brought us some memorable characters, such as the repugnant Puck, but also some that touched our hearts, none more so than Pedro Zamora, who was living with AIDS.  MTV’s inclusion of Zamora, who died in 1994, was one of TV’s first programs to have a gay male with AIDS, and the network used it to spread tolerance and understanding.

Choose or Lose (1992): Every now and then, MTV uses its powers for great good, perhaps none more so than its Choose Or Lose campaign. While it’s lost some of its potency, the ongoing program, started in 1992, attempts to educate young voters on the issues and often pairs with other organization, such as Rock the Vote, to support voter registration.

William Jefferson Clinton Town Hall (1992):
While technically under the umbrella of “Choose or Lose, “ Clinton’s Town Hall meeting is so significant, it deserves its own bullet point. Baby boomer Clinton was the first presidential candidate to actively court the youth vote and harness the power that MTV offered to address voters under 25. Despite someone asking Clinton if he had to do it all over again, if he would inhale, the Town Hall showed the intelligence, inquisitiveness and interest of many young voters, who helped propel Clinton into office.
Kurt Cobain's death (1994):
MTV wasn’t the first to break the news of the Nirvana frontman, but it was the most resonant as MTV News anchor Kurt Loder led the coverage. MTV understood better than an other national outlet the significance of what had just happened and why it mattered.

The Madonna and Britney Spears Kiss (2003):
The MTV Video Music Awards always took inordinate pride in pushing the envelope (a term MTV execs loved to use), which usually played itself out by trying way too hard to be audacious. After Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera performed together, Madonna kissed each of the ladies, but for some reason, the Madonna/Britney kiss, perhaps because there was a hint of tongue, turns the world upside down...  It wasn’t even much of a kiss and there was never any doubt that it was anything more than a publicity ploy, but it was the kiss seen around the world.

“16 and Pregnant” (2009):
In an attempt to show the difficulties of teen pregnancy, MTV created the next generation of tabloid stars. Two years later, the initial cast members are still cover-story fixtures on celebrity magazines. And with MTV creating spin-offs such as “Teen Mom,” many have wondered if MTV is encouraging a proliferation of teen pregnancies by girls who believe having a baby is the quickest way to stardom. Hey, if it worked for Amber Portwood...

Jersey Shore” (2009):
One week prior to its December 2009 debut, none of us knew what a Snooki was, the next, we couldn’t escape her. As MTV no longer had any upper hand as a video outlet (other than the occasional premiere) over YouTube and then Vevo, both of which leveled the playing field,   the channel had to find ways to keep its relevance. And it got back at all of us by unleashing “Jersey Shore” upon the world. I’ve never seen an episode and I can name at least six cast members. That’s saying something.

What are your favorite and worst memories of MTV?


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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Jay-Z and Kanye West's condemned for iTunes and Best Buy exclusives

Retailers stop short of threatening a boycott of 'Watch The Throne'

We wondered how long that would take. Retailers are expressing their severe dismay that “Watch The Throne,” the August album from Jay-Z and Kanye West (as The Throne), will be offered first through iTunes and that Best Buy will have an exclusivity on a deluxe version.

More than 100 independent retailers have signed an open letter to the two, asking the pair to reconsider. The retailers, in a letter that appeared in Billboard,  call the exclusivity decision “a short-sighted strategy...Your decisions will be doing great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores--stores that have supported you and your music for years.” The album will be available at iTunes starting Aug. 8, and at physical retail on Aug. 12. Best Buy's exclusive on the deluxe version would last until Aug. 23. Billboard estimates that a deluxe version can amount to 70% of sales for the first weeks of a superstar release.

The news comes as Live Nation announced this morning that The Throne tour will add more dates, due to "overwhelming demand" (we're not sure how that can happen before tickets even go on sale). The new tour schedule will be released Aug. 1 and the presale has been move to Aug. 2. The public on-sale date remains Aug. 8.

Below is the letter from retailers to the two rap superstars. We've reached out to Island Def Jam to see if they have any response to the retailers' letter. 

Dear Jay-Z and Kanye West,

Independent record stores serve our communities. Our passion is music, and we convey this to the millions of customers who come to our stores. That's what we do.

Four years ago independent music stores across the country banded together to create Record Store Day. Our goal was to counter the negative media coverage about the supposed demise of record stores brought on by the closing of the Tower stores and to respond to the music business practices that fans deemed to be manipulative and onerous.

We reached out to the artist community to see if they would join us, and the response was overwhelming, with words of support coming in from Paul McCartney, Erykah Badu, Tom Waits, Chuck D, the Foo Fighters and countless others. Working with their label partners, many of these musicians created limited edition works of art, including vinyl and CDs made especially for music-specialty retail. Hundreds of these artists took the opportunity to perform, DJ, and interact with their fans in our record stores. Here in the U.S., Record Store Day lifted the entire music business by 8% and contributed to the growth in music sales. Record Store Day is now one of the biggest music events in history, with millions of people participating worldwide. We also continue to work throughout the year with labels, artists and managers and run regular promotions via physical independent retail and recordstoreday.com.

We are responding to the bad news that your new album will not be available to independent record stores until after iTunes gets a window of exclusivity. We also learned that the deluxe version (which is what the true music fans who shop our stores will want, by an overwhelming majority) will only be available at Best Buy exclusively for a period of time. We believe this is a short-sighted strategy, and that your decisions will be doing great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores -- stores that have supported you and your music for years.

We know that you are busy, and that you put most of your energies into creating great music, but we are writing to you in the hope that you will hear us and take the time to rectify this matter. As representatives of the independent record store music community, we are asking you to allow record stores and music fans equal access to your new album.

With the utmost respect,

Dedry Jones, The Music Experience
Mike Dreese, Newbury Comics
Judy Negley, Independent Records
Rachelle Friedman, J&R Music World
Mike Batt, Silver Platters
John Kunz, Waterloo Records
Tobago Benito, DBS Sounds
Brian Faber, Zia Records
Karen Pearson, Amoeba Music
Bryan Burkert, The Sound Garden
Paul Epstein, Twist and Shout
Mike Wise, Monster
Rob Roth, Vintage Vinyl
Karl Groeger, Looney Tunes
Joe Nardone, Jr., Gallery of Sound
Jonathan Fernandez, Rasputin Music
Mike Fratt, Homers
Dilyn Radakovitz, Dimple Records
Lisa Teger-Zhen, Uncle Sam's Music
Dustin Hansen, Graywhale Entertainment
Bill Kennedy, BK Music
Jim Bland and Bob Schick, Plan Nine
Steve Wilson, Kiefs
Tom King, Central Square Records
Alayna Hill Alderman, Richard Storms, Record Archive
Nancy Salzer, Salzer's Records
Rick Ziegler, Indy CD
Laura, Finders Records
Deon Borchard, Nic Fritze, The Long Ear
Chuck Oken, Rhino /Mad Platter
Allan Miller, John Bevis, Disc Exchange
Charlotte Kubat, Magnolia Thunderpussy
Chris Avino, Rainbow Records
Rich Koch, Off the Record
Skip Hermans, Skip's Record and CD World
Jason Patton, Oz Music
Quinn Bishop, Cactus Records
John Timmons, ear X tacy
Lou Russell, Lou's Records
Roger Weiss, Streetlight Records
Terry Currier, Music Millenium
Andrew Chinnici, Lakeshore Record Exchange
Michael Bunnell, The Record Exchange
Mike White, Boo Boo Records
Steve Baron, CD Central
Eric Levin, Criminal Records
Pat O'connor, Culture Clash
Dan Plunkett, End Of An Ear
Paula Kret, Exile On Main St
Chris Penn, Good Records
Doyle Davis, Grimey's
Travis Searle, Guestroom Records
Jim Mcguinn, Hot Poop
Isaac Slusarenko, Jackpot Records
Jason Nickey & Heath Byers, Landlocked Music
Todd Robinson, Luna Music
Darren & Jim Blase, Shake It
Anna & Chris Brozek, Slowtrain
Kimber Lanning, Stinkweeds
Tom "Papa" Ray, Vintage Vinyl
Jack Dennis and Christopher Ashely, Earshot
Lisa Tiger-Zhen, Uncle Sams
Dave Zero, Mad City Music Exchange
Sarah Hefte, Everyday Music
Mike Madrigale, Mr. Suit Records
Lance Price, CD Source
Bruce Carlock, Cats Music
Thomas "Toonz" Predovich, Vinyl Solution Records
Neal Becton, Som Records
Marc Lasky, Music Box
Ryan Shoemaker, Galaxy CDs
John Thominet, Rainbow Records
Rick Linie, Creative Leisure
Chris, Young Ones
Morrison Agen, Neat Neat Neat Records and Music
Peter Gianakopoulos, The Old School Records
Reid Robinson, Co-Op Records, Moline
Carol Copfer, Movie Trading Company, Vintage Stock
John Anderson, Reverberation Vinyl
Rob Kimple, Ramalama Records
Randy Wagner, Radio KAOS Records
Sam Lock, CD.Game Exchange
Rob Bourqu, Music Matters
Steve Hyland, Down In the Valley
Melanie Cade, Mojo Books and Music
Tony Cicalese, We Got The Beats
Andy Schneidkraut, Albums on the Hill
Robert Stapleton, Southwest Sound
Sharon & Shirley Bechor, Rock and Soul Records
Rich and Sue Graves, Budget Tapes & Records
Todd Fundaro, Flipside Records
Adam Hirzel, Saki Records
Kelly, Patrick and Robby, Back Door Records
Stacey Pepper, Vertigo Music
Josh Castleberry, Toxic Beauty Records

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Watch: Beyonce shimmers and shines on 'The View'

Lady Gaga is next on Aug. 1

Beyonce hung with the ladies on “The View” today to talk about how normal she is between wowing us with stripped-down performances of “Best Thing I Never Had” and “1+1.” The latter was performed “Fabulous Baker Boys” style with Bey on top of a black baby grand.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Amy Winehouse</p>

Amy Winehouse

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Mark Ronson pays tribute to Amy Winehouse, so does Ronnie Spector

Winehouse's producer leads singalong, while Spector covers 'Back To Black'

Amy Winehouse’s producer, Mark Ronson, paid tribute to the late singer last night by playing “Valerie” onstage at London’s Royal Naval College.

Ronson was joined on stage by Zutons lead singer Dave McCabe, who wrote the track. Winehouse and Ronson covered the tune on Ronson’s “Version” album.

Later, Ronson brought members of Winehouse’s backing band on stage, as well as singer Charlie Waller, for a cover of “Back To Black,” according to NME and BBC Newsbeat.

Ronson told the audience, “It's really lovely getting to play some music here for you tonight. That's what makes everything better. I went to her service yesterday and there was a rabbi that spoke and he said that somebody's life is measured in deeds and not years and that’s the best thing I heard yesterday.” He also told the audience, “She is my sister, wherever she is.”

[More after the jump...]

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LMFAO laughs its way to four weeks atop the Hot 100

Will Katy Perry make it to the top for a record-setting fifth time?

LMFAO stays at No.1 for a fourth week as “Party Rock Anthem” featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock makes its mark as one of the top songs of the summer.

Will Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) end LMFAO’s reign?  Her tune moves 3-2 in its hopeful march to No. 1. If the song reaches the summit, her album “Teenage Dream” will be only the second album in the history of the Hot 100 to include five chart toppers, matching Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” according to Billboard.

Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” slides 2-3. Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” climbs 5-4, trading places with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

Lil Wayne’s “How To Love” stays at No. 6, while newcomers Hot Chelle Rae see their first Top 10 hit, “Tonight, Tonight” rises 9-7. Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” dips 7-8. Also slipping down one slot is OneRepublic’s “Good Life” from 8-9.

The only new entry into the top 10 belongs to Bad Meets Evil, whose “Lighters” soars 17-10. The track, which features Bruno Mars,  also wins Greatest Gainer/Digital honors as it makes gains in both airplay and sales.

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Watch: Demurely dressed Lady Gaga performs 'You and I' for Carson Daly

She throws in a little 'Edge of Glory' as well

Lady Gaga. Can’t. Stop. Working. Watch the below clip as she plays in the offices at Carson Daly’s Amp Radio Show for a radio broadcast.  The employees get to hang out in clearly the most intimate concert she’s given in a few years.

She starts with a little bit of “The Edge of Glory” before going into a stripped-down version of “You And I” with just her and a piano. That’s the way we first heard it when she debuted it last summer.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>OK Go</p>


Watch: OK Go contort into funny shapes for 'All Is Not Lost' video

Innovative group wears revealing green outfits with Pilobolus dance company

I’m convinced that in the years to come, college courses will be taught on OK Go’s innovation. It’s not just their videos —although those are the most obvious example— but the group’s use of technology, interaction with their fans, and their ability to reinvent themselves are non-paralleled. Now that they are on their own following their split with EMI last year, the only constraints are time and money and they seem to have found ways to work around both.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Lady Gaga talks Amy Winehouse and her new video for 'You and I'

Singer sounds remarkably sweet and relaxed during radio interview

Lady Gaga stopped by Omaha radio station, KQCH 94.1, yesterday after shooting the video for new single “You & I,” and had very sweet things to say about Amy Winehouse.

“I never got to meet here,” Lady Gaga says. “I think sometimes we were in the same place. Gosh, I’m real devastated about it... I really remember being in New York. I was with Lady Starlight. She and I were in Duane Reade shopping for eyelashes and glue and I just remember I saw her on the cover of Rolling Stone. It was [her] first cover. I always felt like an outsider.. [Lady Starlight] looked over at me and said, ‘If she can do it, you can do it.’ I always felt like Amy opened a door for girls like me, who didn’t fit that exact, real pop, real wholesome...she was really special and she’ll be greatly missed.” The comments about Winehouse come in around the 7-minute mark.

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: AP Photo

U2 and Pearl Jam docs will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival

Watch 'PJ20' trailer; U2's 'From The Sky Down' opens the fest on Sept. 8

Both U2 and Pearl Jam will have a strong presence at the Toronto International Film Festival this fall.
Davis Guggenheim’s “From The Sky Down,” which revisits the creation of U2’s 1991 seminal album, “Achtung Baby,” will open the festival on Sept. 8, according to the New York Times. The film will include both archival footage and fresh interviews as it examines the album’s legacy.

Cameron Crowe’s two-hour documentary spanning Pearl Jam’s career, “Pearl Jam Twenty,” will premiere at TIFF two days later on Sept. 10. The Oscar-winning director and journalist has followed the band since its inception; he draws upon more than 1,200 hours of old footage from before the band’s formation, as well as new interviews, to weave together Pearl Jam’s journey from obscurity to superstardom.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood</p>

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood

Watch: Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley rekindle love in 'Remind Me' video

Can the desert heat up their romance?

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are buddies. They have a fun, playful banter as co-hosts of the Country Music Assn. Awards, which they’ll co-host together again this fall.

What they do not have, despite being in the desert in the video for their new duet, “Remind Me,” is anything approximating heat. Maybe that’s the point since the song is about a couple whose once red-hot passion has cooled and they feel miles apart (hence the literal interpretation that has them walking, walking, walking, walking toward each other across a great expanse).

But miracles happen every day so maybe there’s hope for these crazy kids. There are two in the video as a matter of fact: Paisley’s electric guitar, which is the sole possession he brought with him to the desert (and, wisely, his hat for sun protection), magically amplifies itself. Equally wondrous, Underwood is able to walk in stilettos in the desert (and she’s got the one-foot-crossed-in-front-of-the-other model’s walk down pat, even if no real human walks that way).

[More after the jump...]

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