Come with me as I chronicle an entire hour of MTV Hits, MTV’s digltal-cable channel that deigns to show pop videos during non-early-morning daylight hours. Why? Well, why not, really. Come join me in the upper reaches of the Optimum band after the jump.
3:01 p.m. Video No. 1: Fall Out Boy, “What A Catch, Donnie.” There is something missing in the chyron, which makes me realize that the overall typographic quality of MTV’s bumpers has really declined over the past decade or so. Is it literacy rates? Did the copyeditors get fired? Can we just blame the font switch?
3:05 p.m. This video definitely looks much better on a TV (even a glare-hobbled one) than on a computer screen. The sky, in particular, is lovely.
3:06 p.m. Video No. 2: Britney Spears’ performance of “Oops… I Did It Again” from the 2000 VMAs, which opens with her lipsyncing an oddly atonal version of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.” Oh yes, then she strips down to the glittery bodysuit. Ahead of the trends, our Brit Brit was.
3:08 p.m. I don’t remember this mix, but I don’t understand why the underpinnings didn’t modulate on the pre-chorus. Makes the proceedings seem a bit off.
3:10 p.m. Say what you will about the girl, but back in the day, she could dance. Although I have to say that at least one of the close-ups on her hair is almost as unfortunate as the shot that opened “Gimme More.”
3:10 p.m. Video No. 3: Backstreet Boys’ medley at the 1999 Video Music Awards. Well, apparently I picked an hour during which MTV is reliving its past Video Music Awards glories in an attempt to gin up excitement for the Sept. 13 telecast. (I guess I can consider this training!)
3:11 p.m. Now the Boys are very awkwardly harmonizing on “Larger Than Life.” And everyone is dressed like a LeN album cover. Why did people ever think combining midriffs and bagginess was a good idea?
3:14 p.m. Video No. 4: Christina Aguilera performing “Come On Over Baby” in 2000. Which opened with an oddly “Eastern” take on “Genie In A Bottle.”
3:15 p.m. Is this the first time this performance is being live-blogged ever? Oh, turn of the millennium—you were such an innocent time. I shudder to think what people might have said about Christina’s not-very-on-point voice when this performance originally aired.
3:16 p.m. And now, the spoken-word breakdown. This is actually one of my favorite Aguilera tracks. Wait… Fred Durst isn’t going to run in anytime soon, is he?
3:17 p.m. OH NO HERE HE IS. THE RED BASEBALL CAP. 2000 was such a long time ago. I’m just glad that Christina didn’t have to turn into a full-time hype girl after this.
3:19 p.m. MTV Hits’ demographic power isn’t as potent as its older sibling’s. Case in point: The ads, which are for the likes of StopRepairBills.com and TempurPedic. It’s not 3 a.m., I promise!
3:22 p.m. Extended-remix ads like this make me flash back to the days of me VHS-ing Headbangers’ Ball.
3:23 p.m. Video No. 5: Eminem, Dr Dre, and Snoop medley at the 1999 VMAs. Eminem is wearing a hoodie that blinks. As in, it blinks light.
3:23 p.m. So far all the clips on this hour have been from the 1999 & 2000 ceremonies. The last time that MTV was at full strength? And how telling is it that any/all of the performers shown so far could plausibly be invited to this year’s awards? (Also, remember that Christina Aguilera greatest-hits comp? Good times.)
3:26 p.m. This was also the pre-DVR era, for the most part. So thinking about time-shifted viewing of the show—for the purposes of avoiding commercials, or performances that you might not have cared about, or whatever—is kind of interesting in context.
3:27 p.m. Video No. 6: The Beastie Boys, “Intergalactic” … performed in 1999? Or 1998? The chyron doesn’t say. Which underscores the point I made at the top of the hour.
3:29 p.m. Aha! It was 1998. Thanks Google.
3:30 p.m. Video No. 7: Alicia Keys, “No One,” performed in 2007. Finally, we move into the later half of the decade, and get reminded of its fondness for really ugly skinny headbands. Also, she is oddly off beat here. Oh, according to my live-blog from two years ago (jeez I have been doing this too long) she segues into “Freedom ‘90″ at some point.
3:33 p.m. And there we are.
3:34 p.m. I am now being reminded of what an utter trainwreck this edition of the show was. That’s what you get for setting up in Vegas!
3:35 p.m. Commercial break No. 2. Why would you want to pay for the privilege of having “You’re A Jerk” as a ringtone? Even as a passive-aggressive swipe against someone who’s merely a frenemy, it just seems like a bridge too ludicrously far.
3:37 p.m. This super-long ad for a hair-straightening product is making me miss the days of 1-900-MIX-A-LOT.
3:39 p.m. Ah, an ad for Paris Hilton Will Let Me Share A Photo Op Or Two With Her If I Win This Show, which gets rerun on MTV Hits now and again. I know. I know.
3:39 p.m. Video No. 8: Fatboy Slim, “Praise You” from 1999. Yes, really. Probably notable that everyone dancing right now is wearing a proto-Slanket here.
3:41 p.m. And the giant blankets have been ripped off to reveal… costumes that have blinky lights all over them! Did MTV have a deal with some electronics company this year or what?
3:42 p.m. Video No. 9: Janet Jackson, “That’s The Way Love Goes” / “If” from 1993. Introduced by Christian Slater, who gave Janet’s bellybutton a shout-out. Remember when those sorts of things could seem sorta sexy?
3:43 p.m. It may also be notable that Janet’s bellybutton is nearly covered by the waist of her jeans. Oh, 1993. Oh, MTV flashback making me realize just how crappy Discipline and 20 Y.O. were.
3:45 p.m. And she could dance, too. Wearing those totally-fine-in-1993 Doc Marten-looking shoes probably helped on that front, though. (Mariah, take note!)
3:47 p.m. Annnnd… one more commercial break before we head out of the hour. Thanks to MTV’s rerunning of its house ads, I now want to meet this guy whose ringtone is purportedly “You’re A Jerk.”
3:48 p.m. Video No. 10: Beck feat. Rahzel (!), “Where It’s At.” Live from the Radio City Music Hall marquee in 1996. There is a CHOOSE OR LOSE-emblazoned bus underneath the two of them, two, just in case you really want to feel old.
3:50 p.m. Beck is in a green button-down, tucked in, with light blue pants. And a belt. How much time did he have to get back to his job at FYE after the performance?
3:51 p.m. A shout-out to Sixth Avenue just now. And I am pretty sure Beck’s DJ is inside the aforementioned Choose Or Lose bus. I miss “political” pop stars, you guys.
3:53 p.m. And now, from that same marquee, one year later, Video No. 11: The Foo Fighters performing “Monkey Wrench.” I was working across the street when this happened! But I only had a cubicle, and not a window office, so I couldn’t watch the soundcheck.
3:54 p.m. Some curious synergy going on here. I’m assuming that these two performances are a way to set up the Radio City setting of this year’s awards… but they might seem like they came from forever ago. (Keep in mind that I also watched the last hour of MTV Hits, and the performers were so young Taylor Swift came off like an elder stateswoman.
3:56 p.m. Video No. 12: Coldplay, “Speed Of Sound,” 2005. One member of the audience at the song’s outset was louder than Chris Martin. Oops.
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