kottke.org posts about MTV

The origin of the 80s aesthetic

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 03, 2017

A little-known Italian design & architecture group called the Memphis Group was responsible for the dominant aesthetic of the 80s.

Memphis Design movement dominated the '80s with their crazy patterns and vibrant colors. Many designers and architects from all around the world contributed to the movement in order to escape from the strict rules of modernism. Although their designs didn't end up in people's homes, they inspired many designers working in different mediums. After their first show in Milan in 1981, everything from fashion to music videos became influenced by their visual vocabulary.

Or were they? What's interesting, in terms of the timeline of influence, is that MTV debuted before that September 1981 show in Milan. Here's the first MTV broadcast in August 1981, featuring the brightly colored logo:

MTV Amp complete playlist

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 03, 2014

My friend Aaron has compiled an Rdio playlist of every song ever played on MTV's Amp, a show from the mid-90s that featured electronic music. Lots of Underworld, Prodigy, Aphex Twin, and Orbital on here.

Some songs weren't available on Rdio, but there's more than 18 hours of music here.

Why doesn't MTV play music videos anymore?

posted by Aaron Cohen   Nov 12, 2012

You'll be sorry you asked.

An oral history of MTV

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2011

Pitchfork has an excerpt of I Want My MTV, an oral history of the first decade of MTV.

I got word that Pepsi had bought the first spot in the 1984 Grammy telecast and they were gonna play a new Michael Jackson Pepsi ad. I'm like, "Michael Jackson belongs to MTV, not the Grammys." I wasn't gonna let it happen. So I called Roger Enrico, the head of Pepsi, and said, "Roger, I've got a major problem. This Pepsi Michael Jackson spot that's gonna run in three weeks on the Grammys? That should run on MTV first."

"Well, Garland, I've already made a deal with the Grammys." I go, "Wait a minute. You know how we do world premieres of videos. What if I world premiere the commercial? And what if I give you 24 promos a day for two weeks leading up to it? Would that interest you?"

He goes, "How much do you want for this?" I said, "Nothing." He goes, "What? You're telling me you would promote a commercial 24 times a day for two weeks before playing it? Garland, I like your style. Done." So it played for the first time on MTV.

(thx, jon)

Nick Cave's letter to MTV

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 21, 2011

In 1996, Nick Cave was nominated by MTV for Best Male Artist. This was an award he was not interested in winning, so he wrote MTV a letter. "I am in competition with no-one." Click through to read the sincere thanks in the first paragraph, and the loony bin muse protection in the third.

(Via Stellar and @Lettersofnote)

MTV News report on the internet from 1995

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 12, 2011

Lots of footage from The Net, Johnny Mnemonic, etc., virtual reality, Moby with hair, and websites of yore.

Andy Warhol's MTV show

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 19, 2010

Of course Andy Warhol made a TV show for MTV called Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes.

The whole thing is a perfect snapshot of everything to love and hate about the 1980s: the art bull market, Manhattan, fashion's hardworking LGBT backbone, and the nature of celebrity in the dawn of the fractured and streaming media world we live in now.

The link above has pointers to downloads of footage from three shows. (via fimoculous)

Watch the first hour ever broadcast on

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 02, 2006

Watch the first hour ever broadcast on MTV. Of course, you have to wade through MTV's crappy interface and, oops, you can't look at it on a Mac because "Microsoft's Windows Media Player Plug-in for Macintosh does not support Windows DRM". Thanks, assholes. Hopefully this will show up on YouTube soon, DRM or no. (via girlhacker)

What's the most offensive show on television?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 22, 2006

What's the most offensive show on television? MTV's My Super Sweet 16. "Marissa created an exclusive guest list and announced it at school. If you weren't on the list, well, sorry. When a few kids begged to get an invitation, she made them have a 'dance-off' in front of her. Watching her get off on that was like watching the Emperor zap Luke Skywalker with those fingertip lightning bolts in Return Of The Jedi."