I haven’t watched MTV or its music video awards in years. Although it’s impossible to escape the media attention given to this year’s show. For those who are concerned, no, this blog post is not going to be about Miley Cyrus or twerking.

Rather, it’s going to be how MTV helped ruin music. Which in and of itself is ironic given the fact that when MTV started it was a music pioneer. It was new to have music videos playing 24 hours a day. For those of us in the US, we were introduced to European bands that we might never heard of. And for a time, MTV was the most relevant, up-to-date thing happening in music.

In the beginning music videos were mostly bands or singers performing their songs. Throughout the 80s videos became more conceptualized, and most were visually pretty odd, that was fine and fun. What slowly started creeping into music, was the need for the musicians to be more concerned with their style and look, rather than the music.

Jump to the mid-90s and MTV was no longer the pioneering music video channel, but rather a second rate venue for sub level, pseudo-reality shows. And as the Internet grew and websites like YouTube and other video hosting sites cropped up and became more popular, anybody with a camcorder could post a music video and music died.

No longer was it about the music, it was about the look and style of the performer. It became more important to be wearing the next hottest fashion look, and have the trend setting hairstyle. Was the performer’s accessories the latest and best? Was the singer cute enough to be the next tween thing? The quality of the music ceased to matter and fell by the wayside. It didn’t matter if the person could sing or if the lyrics were abysmally moronic. As long as the performer looked good, had a peppy sound and synchronized dance steps, they became popular.

I don’t know if we will ever see bands again like America, the Rolling Stones, Rush and Queen. And those bands from the 80s who seamlessly blended video style with good music, like Duran Duran. U2, the Police, REM and Journey, just to name a few.

Now singers worry more about having the right stylist rather than the best lyricist. No longer do we have the grand symphonic sounds of Queen. Now it’s all a sugary sweet pop beat that sounds painfully similar from one song to another, one artist to another.

While MTV brought music videos to the masses in a new venue, it slowly and insidiously brought about an unwelcome change. The visuals became more important than the sound, no longer were bands concerned about the music. MTV, the very instrument that brought music into a new age, heralded its death knell. Damn shame too, I loved music and MTV during the 80s.

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