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Internet Killed the Video Star

What happened to music videos?

by Dr. Spin
December 15, 2003

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Internet Killed the Video Star_Dr. Spin-What happened to music videos? Spin Dude,

In your opinion, who was the best lead singer for Van Halen?

Sam N. Dave

Dear SND,

Usually you have to go with the original, so in this case “Diamond” David Lee Roth wins the title of best lead vocalist for Van Halen. This is not to say that Dave is the better singer; I think Sammy Hagar has the advantage there. But Roth personifies the Van Halen sound much better. When Van Halen was with Roth it was Van Halen; when Van Halen was with Sammy Hagar, it was Sammy Hagar with Van Halen.

I still don’t understand Van Halen’s mentality; “David Lee Roth is too egotistical. Let’s fire him and hire a well-known solo artist!” As for Van Halen’s third lead vocalist, I don’t remember who he is, and judging by your moniker, you probably don’t either, and like Dear Jon, I don’t have time to look that up.

Dr. Spin,

What is the current status of the music video? I know MTV still has Music Video Awards though they rarely air the actual videos. I'm a Gen-Xer who witnessed the dawn of MTV, but I have no idea how today's youth responds to videos. Why do they seemingly get so little airtime?

-Used to Want My MTV

Dear Used,

I don’t have cable anymore, so I really can’t comment too much on videos and MTV. When I last had cable, there were three “video” networks, MTV, VH1, and MTV2. MTV, for the most part is dominated by TV series, “reality” shows such as “Real World,” “Road Rules,” and “Jackass.” VH1 started out as the video station for baby boomers, but had morphed more towards Gen-Xers, with shows such as “It Came from the 80’s.” MTV2, the last I saw, is pretty much what MTV used to be, that is, all they play are videos. I think there was also a Country/Western station that played all Country artists’ videos too.

It seems with the many outlets that are available on cable TV; videos are on all the time, on some station somewhere. In the early days, it used to be you had a hit song; you made a video for it. Now you make a video for a song and hope it becomes a hit. But because videos are so plentiful and very few are original, they don’t have the same impact they used too. Even Madonna can’t find anything controversial to do in her videos anymore.

Today’s youth are much more interested in downloading music and creating their own CDs than watching videos. I’m sure they still anticipate when their favorite stars’ videos appear. But unlike you and I, they are unwilling to sit through hours of other artists’ video. When MTV first came out, videos were a novelty, and we watched all the bands because the concept was so new to us. Plus, it was the only way to hear a lot of new artists that weren’t being played on the radio. Now videos are so common and “old hat,” MTV barely plays them anymore. The internet is the new way to find “unknown” bands.

The fact that you identify yourself as a person who witnessed the dawn of MTV suggests that you probably don’t enjoy artists popular with today’s youth anyway, so you’re probably grateful you don’t have to see the newest Britney Spears video 30 times a day. Just find someone who has old copies of “Friday Night Videos” and relive the good old days.

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