MTV's video archive

On Dinosaurs and Robots, Mister Jalopy posts and comments on a whole bunch of his favorite videos from MTV's video archive.

Here's a small sample of Jalopy's picks:

MTV was the internet of the 1980s. It was the connection from our mundane suburban lives to the urbane sophisticated world that we imagined joining. Now everybody knows everything and every trend is overexposed to the point of lifelessness, but MTV played an important role as it gave us a window into subcultures that meant the world to us. True, D+R is about inspired objects, but we sometimes diverge to consider the exceptional whatever the form. The MTV offering is not as broad as YouTube, but the quality, searching and metadata quality make it worthwhile. The MTV embedding function is a bit of a stinker. If you embed, strip off all html after the ending embed tag.

Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust

At the time, Bauhaus was skewered by the British press for doing a light cover of a classic Bowie song to rocket up the charts. Indeed, it was, and remained, their greatest commercial success, but I loved it then and I love it now. Peter Murphy brings a growling, sleazy sneer that is completely successful.

Digital Underground - Humpty Dance

He likes his oatmeal lumpy.

Massive Attack - Teardrop

Amazing work by Gondry. Transcendent song.

Many more videos and commentary here: Ladies and Gentleman, The MTV Music Video Archive


  1. Has it really been two years since I first thought to search for MTV videos of olde on YouTube? And yes, it was Asia’s “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, because I had only seen it once or twice on MTV before they pulled it. It was a successful search.

  2. “Copyrights restrict us from playing this video outside the U.S.” … That really does sum up what is wrong with your country, no offence meant.

  3. Digilante, that’s what I say about the BBC player.

    It’s not what’s wrong with the US, Intellectual property and digital rights management stinks for users across the western world.

  4. My problem is that I’m grown up, more suburban than I was when I was a kid, and I still want to join the urbane sophisticated world represented in rock videos. Or even more so, the world that was still too underground even for edgy 80s MTV, which doesn’t appear to exist anymore. The one downside to the Internet, as they say, is that there is no underground anymore.

  5. MDH, you’re right. I’m in Luxembourg, so I cannot watch either with ease. At the office we’ve spent some effort to get around by using ssh tunneling if we must, and so on and so forth. Anyway, the point is you’re right – this whole planet is starting to suck. Disinform, misinform, terrorise, control…

  6. It makes absolutely no sense at all, but I’ve always thought that Bauhaus’ version of ZS was rawer and edgier than the original. It’s like when American R&B songs are covered by Jamaican Lover’s Rock artists – so much more soulful.

    I know, I know – crucify me.

    Also – all the videos on the Bauhaus DVD “Shadows of Light” are pretty great. Especially “She
    s in Parties”, which Duran Duran ripped off for “The Chauffeur”.

  7. That last video for Massive Attack was by Walter Stern and not Ghondry. In my opinion, Walter is a much more talented director when it comes to the subtle/quaint details that make the “anything” special. “Thursday’s Child” by Bowie has to be one of his most beautiful pieces.

  8. Is it my imagination or is it our new President-Elect prancing around that stage in the Humpty nose? Take a good look. I really think it could be him. Who knew he had that much funk?

  9. I detect the beginnings of a ’90s nostalgia thing happening. Should be in full swing within about 5 years.

  10. Hmm. As an American, that wasn’t my MTV experience, even though I loved some of those bands. If I recall there was a special show for that less mainstream stuff. Duran Duran was shown a lot, but I don’t remember ever seeing The Chauffeur. I would’ve freaked out if I had. One video I do remember is Humpty Dance.

  11. “Copyrights restrict us from playing this video outside the US”

    US citizen living abroad. Brilliant situation, MTV. Yeah, I know somehow I could run through a proxy server in the US or what not, but I don’t know how, and that’s not the point.

    The point is, you have to wonder what the rest of the world actually SEES from the US. When the middle east situation is due to so many people having a distorted view of us from a limited view of our media, how does this help? This exacerbates the problem. Look, the internet was created with the ideal that EVERYONE could see what anyone had. It’s shit like this idiocy that propagates cultural igornorance. How the hell are we ever going to learn about other cultures if this becomes the world norm? And this is the US doing this shit!

    But, I don’t know if I could explain Humpty Hump to the Japanese…

  12. Region locked videos always make me consider majoring in IPR and destroying it from the inside…

    By the way, did you know that though “Teardrop” is the theme song for the TV show “House”, the show’s aired with a different title music in many European countries due to copyright restrictions…

  13. …beat to the punch by Sesam. If you ever have the chance (read: excuse) to watch TV with closed captioning on, you will see that sometimes the artist and song title will appear. This is to inform the Hard of Hearing and Deaf people watching that, no, they are not just experiencing technical difficulties or complete “silence” for a spell and here is the song info in case they are wanting to know what it is. Great captioning includes song lyrics parenthesized in musical notes.

    What? I have a Deaf best friend/past roommate, ok? FODA for life. When watching House together, they showed that information for the song of the third video in this post.

  14. > MTV was the internet of the 1980s.

    It was something, that’s for sure. New media. Both internet and MTV are subsets of this.

    I was watching MTV when it came on the air in 1981. Feverishly recorded videos, made my own master tape / archive of videos on videotape. Early webpage creation? No, but the meta-essences are the same — the desire to concatenate and store information/content electronically.

  15. Looking forward to checking this out. My best friend of many years, is one of those people that always hears something first. One day he called from far away to say, go buy Massive Attack, Mezzanine, talk to you later, got to go; one rarely receives such good advice. He also introduced me to The Birthday Party, Foetus, Yello, and a hundred others, so it was easy to believe him.

    One reason boing boing is so wonderful, the many links so many here provide to music is amazing and appreciated. Just the other day Kieran O’Neill posted this comment in the Untitled 1 thread, thanks again.

  16. Did Massive Attack write the theme music for “House” and “ER”?

    Teardrop (the beginning and the end, without vocals) is the theme used for House M.D. in the USA, and it’s perfect for it IMHO. That Bristol sound has a wonderfully ominous tone to it, that’s perfect for the “smiling back in the face of death” smart-ass existential nature of House.

    “Copyrights restrict us from playing this video outside the U.S.”

    Geolocation is severely undermining the whole cyberspace nature of this entire International Network (or “Internet”) we’ve had going.

    Then again, I don’t think we should even have region-specific domain names (TLDs).

    Keep the Internet a Wild West! …an Electronic Frontier!

    Oh how I wish Larry Lessig was wrong when he first published Code, and that Lance Rose was right. (Sure seemed like the lawless vision got a second wind when Ian Clarke published Freenet in 2000 too. There’s still TOR and I2P now though.)

    Then again, technological determinism seems to prevail after all, because there’s always Foxy Proxy for getting an “appropriate” IP address to receive the aforementioned content (MTV, BBC, etc.)

  17. i dont care if there are cell phones, the internet, myspace, or ipods. Todays kids missed out. Period.

  18. “I’ve found that a lot of videos are Censored, but that is definitely the first case I’ve seen a video censor based on brand name.”

    …The Kinks have been censored for years where Lola is concerned. Now they drink champagne like cherry cola in that club down in old Soho instead of Coca Cola. Cee-Oh-Ell-Ay Cola.

  19. s’funny thing. “Transcendent song” reminded me of Jack Nicholson introducing the final act at Live Aid 1.0 as “The Transcendental Bob Dylan”. Shame how experiences like that can ruin a whole word for you for evermore.

    *So much* good music between 1989 and 2001. I know there was good music in this decade. I just have trouble remembering what it was.

  20. I thought Massive Attack did different music for House? as in, an original ambient-dub-nothingness that only a post-Mezzanine Massive Attack are capable of.

    Bauhaus, Bauhaus. *shakes head* I loved them, but gawd. Bauhaus.

    And yeah – when MTV launched this service it was almost worldwide (unless you were Canadian) – but they’ve patched that hole. Bastards.

  21. MTV knows its current programming is crap, yet it insists on forcing people to watch it, at least ‘outside the U.S.’ …and still it fails to. I personally find it kind of ironic how MTV’s policy actually helps promote copyright violation.

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