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The bands left behind by MTV



Happy 25th anniversary, MTV! God knows what the life of an 80s addict would be without you to fill the days. (Back then, I mean. When they played music.) You were awfully good to so many bands. Of course, there were some acts that really couldn't make the transition.

Here are a few of the bands who couldn't take advantage of the MTV revolution:

Any black artist: Though MTV first began broadcasting on Aug. 1, 1981, but according to the Associated Press, the first video from a black performer didn't premiere until March 31, 1983. (It was Michael Jackson's "Beat It.") Not by their choice. Sadly, it was by MTV's choice, says the AP.

KISS: The face-painting foursome ruled the 70s. With an act built equally on theatrics and music, they should have been a top candidate for heavy MTV rotation. Didn't happen. Though they'd later reveal their unmasked faces live on the network, the band wouldn't take advantage of the medium until long past their prime.

Boston: Their innovative style was largely impossible to duplicate in concert -- and on MTV. Though wrestling with internal strife and legal battles at the advent of MTV, the band largely ignored the network.

Joejackson_1Joe Jackson: This should probably read "Less-than-handsome singers" instead, because it wasn't just poor Joe. Jackson's career was just taking off in 1979. When MTV viewers saw the face behind the great music on the 1982 "Steppin' Out" video, it was channel-turning time. Many other "radio-friendly" artists also saw the writing on the wall.

Rolling Stones: Quick, name a great video by the Rolling Stones. You can't. Thankfully, their TV exposure before MTV carried them through.

Kansas: Question for ya: What's the difference between Kansas, Boston and Journey? (And no, it's not that Journey isn't a city.) Only one of these bands -- all of whom were peaking in the late 70s -- knew how to use MTV. And it wasn't Kansas.

The punk movement: Unless you call The Clash punk (and not everyone would), none of the bands in the U.S. and British punk movements adapted for MTV. Purists would say that's a good thing. Everyday fans (and accountants keeping track of royalties) might say something else.

Electric Light Orchestra: In the 70s, Jeff Lynne and company could do no wrong. Even their soundtrack for the film Xanadu, which bombed, hit No. 1. In 1981, the band tweaked its sound to shake its disco roots and make it more MTV friendly. Goodbye, ELO. Hello, Traveling Wilburys.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:19pm]


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