I cannot see this title without hearing Sting’s voice in my head. Thank you very much, Marks & Tannenbaum!
Welcome to the wild history of music videos. Although this is really about the 1980s into the 90s, MTV’s ratings are at an all-time high as we speak. Teens who are into pop culture will be interested.
The December 7th SLJ Teen Newsletter features an interview with the authors. Tannenbaum’s final line places it all in context: “If you’re the kind of young and adventurous person who in the 1980s would have made music videos, you’re probably working for an Internet startup or a gaming company.”
Adult/High School–Marks and Tannenbaum have created a vivid and highly readable oral history of the music video channel launched in 1981 on a shoestring and a prayer. MTV quickly became a teen staple and was soon the platform that could make or break a career. The authors divide its story into four major sections, each covering two or three years of the channel’s growth and development. The authors interviewed more than 400 people who were part of the MTV era, and it is pieces of these interviews that make up the bulk of this book. The changing cultural, political, and media landscape of the 1980s is very much part of the story–artists, directors, producers, sales people, actor, and VJs eagerly share their thoughts on racism, corporate greed, censorship, drug use, and more. The authors guide readers through the early days of MTV, when programming consisted mostly of one random video playing after another, to its halcyon period when themed music programming, such as Unplugged, Headbangers Ball and Yo! MTV Raps made it clear that the channel had become a music taste maker. Part of the fun of this book is jumping on to YouTube to check out the videos referenced in the text, and fans of classic rock will be delighted to run across many of their icons. A “Cast of Characters,” which includes a brief bio for each person mentioned in the book, is part of the back matter. Readers who enjoy I Want My MTV may want to check out Matthew Rettenmund’s Totally Awesome 80s (St. Martin’s, 1996) and MTV Uncensored (Pocket Books, 2001).–Dodie Ownes, Editor, SLJ Teen