MTV’s 120 Minutes makes a comeback.
By Derek Phillips
It didn’t seem like so long ago that I was sitting in front of my TV late on a Sunday night waiting for the start of MTV’s only show dedicated to “alternative” music; the only place you could see videos of the bands who were never going to compete with the corporate built pop princesses and dancing buffoons of Top 40 radio or the meaty head-banging sludge so often played on “real rock stations.” In fact, it was just last Sunday. My respite from awful music of the 80s turns out to be the same today: 120 Minutes, the only alternative.
But then the 90s roared in with the sonic assault of grunge and suddenly all the jocks I hated in high school were embracing the markings of punk. As Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden and even the Meat Puppets and Mudhoney started to sell records, the programming dopes and marketing hacks started to reposition their radio stations to reflect the new trend and suddenly every FM station in America was vying to be the “Only Alternative.” MTV was in on it too, putting alternative acts in high rotation during prime time programming hours. Hell, even the Flaming Lips had a hit in the 90s. Soon alternative lost its meaning and 120 Minutes became irrelevant.
Well, just as history repeats itself, so too do the trends of our past. Mainstream radio is once again constipated with teen pop and cock waving metal. So too is MTV with the “Mandy Moore’s Diary” and the unexplainable hype of a half-wit mullet-head named Andrew WK. But thankfully, 120 Minutes again has a place.
I recently cancelled my cable in favor of Direct TV and with the switch came MTV2, a music station that actually plays music videos. And lately, I’ve found myself in the exact same place I was 10+ years ago when the high school me waited until midnight for the hip, decidedly English host, Dave Kendall to give me the scoop on bands I’d only read about in NME or heard on mix tapes from friends and European penpals. Today, Dave is gone but I am still seeing videos of the coolest bands in the world that, I am convinced, never get airplay on Top 40 Radio. In the last weeks I’ve seen videos from Beulah, International Noise Conspiracy, The Hives, The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Shins, Phantom Planet, the Toilet Boys and more. (Damn, I just heard the Strokes and The White Stripes on 94.7, Chicago’s NEW Alternative! Could this be starting all over again?)
Is 120 Minutes cutting edge? No. I’ve yet to see a video or heard mention of the Icarus Line, Modest Mouse or my own Riviera. But it’s cool just the same and good to have a place where kids who don’t shop for music at the mall can find good shit.
27 thoughts on “Dave Kendall, Where Are You?”
I have five or six VHS tapes of 120minutes episodes from 1988, 89 and 90. It’s freaky to watch. What surprises me is how much of the music sucked, and that even then they had “classic clips” of videos like Echo & The Bunnymen’s ‘Do It Clean’. How old does it need to be to be classic? Many of those old videos were soooo awful. Terrible 80s video cliches piled one atop the other. Slow motion curtains blowing in the wind, water being splashed over objects of people, slow motion birds (doves) flying, quick zoom-in-and-out camera lense movements, really bad editing, etc. etc…
And yet, it beats the hell out of the videos from Linkin Park, Puddle of Mudd or any of the other mis-spelled bands out there.The video cliche is an interesting topic. I think each generation of videos has their own set of cliches from the 80’s and the washed out videos with heavy makeup and hairspray to the 90s white framed cuts and weird back lighting to the 00s and the space capsule rap videos with Humvees or the legions of baggy pants shouting the chorus with fists in the air. (How’s that for a run-on sentence, K-Rock??)
DerekYou forgot girls shakin’ their booties, preferably while standing on steps.
Call me an old man, but I bet I’ve seen a total of about three videos so far in 2002. The Strokes’ “Last Night” was one of them on MTV2. Everytime I turn on MTV, I feel my IQ lowering, and I can’t spare any more points. I wish someone cool would tape all the good videos and send them to me… I can’t be bothered to watch for them.
Didn’t you read my article? 120 Minutes is back! Sundays at 10:00 (Chicago time). I see all kinds of good shit. MTV on the other hand still sucks monkey balls.
I’m surprised MTV actually brought back 120 Minutes instead of mining it for “Greatest Moments of 120 Minutes” or some other such horseshit.Those 120 Minutes videos aren’t all bad. Even if a video is rife with 80s cliches, it is cool if they were at least trying to earnestly convey an emotion. My rule of thumb: if you would have liked the video when you were eleven (example for me: Human League “Human”), there is something earnestly emotional about the video (or song) that can’t be denied, therefore it is cool. that rule also applies to, for example, the Blink 182 video with the windstorm, even if you don’t like Blink 182 (I don’t), the video is the real deal.
Of course, 120 Minutes isn’t just showing vintage videos. They’re showing new videos from new bands, and that’s the point!
And the new bands really don’t all suck? I find that so hard to belive!
Believe it, Sammy. There are some really cool videos from really cool bands. Now, like I said, it’s not necessarily cutting edge, but it is NEW music from bands you may not have heard of.
I can’t get MTV2 :(.The Wedge, (60 minute show, 10pm, Fridays, rebroadcast @2am) on Much Music plays some pretty good videos, too. Its where I first saw The Hives’, “Main Offender”. Sometimes they have interviews w/ cool bands, like Int’l Noise Conspiracy and Trail Of Dead.JBTV has been playing too much metal lately, but sometimes they have some good new videos.(Has anyone seen that bizarre video with the lunatic guy in the tunnel who keeps getting hit by cars? Very disturbing, but also kinda cool at the same time. I forget the band’s name, but Thom Yorke is the singer. Not Radiohead.)
Mad,That was UNKLE, Rabbit in your Headlights. Yes, Thom Yorke did the vocals and that video is truly disturbing. I’ve only seen it twice. The guy keeps getting hit by cars. Over and over again. It’s pretty violent and creepy and I love it. Nice call.Here’s some info: http://radiohead1.tripod.com/songs/col/rabbit.htm
it’s nice to see that mtv can once again spare a couple hours to bring quality back into the lives of so many over looked music fans. of course, there are other options… the already mentioned jbtv or public access’ rail 3 or the other side with ken motte. of course, this only leaves to question when headbangers’ ball will be back.
I watched about an hour of 120 Minutes last night and was pleasantly surprised. I saw that Whites Stripes video with the Legos — that’s so cool. I also heard several new songs that I did not hate, which is really saying something. I can’t remember any of the names of the bands except for the one with the guy from Rushmore (who, just like the guy from Blur, I will henceforth refer to as “the guy from Rushmore”). I did not see the Hives or the video with the person getting hit by the car. I’ll have to watch next week. By the way, did anyone else remember the girl from the Sundays being so damn cute?
The guy from Rushmore is Jason Schwarzman (sp?). His band is Phantom Planet and if you’d stayed up a little longer you would have actually seen the guy from Bulr (Damon Albarn) as well as Jimmy from Quadrophenia (Phil Daniels) in the Blur video for “Parklife.” Yes, I noticed the girl from the Sundays too and thought, “Damn, that girl is cute.”
OH GOD! Harriet Wheeler! Back in college I would have disemboweled myself for the chance to breathe the same air as her. I remember seeing them at the Necterine in Ann Arbor back in 1990 (back when the Necterine was actually a club, with a balcony and stage, that attracted great bands). Man, she had that long brown hair all tied up on top of her head, faded jeans, a black top (cardigan maybe) and a pair of big black shoes (maybe Docks).What is up with Harriet? Were they showing an old video or something? I also always thought that her man, David, played some great guitar. I remember people calling him the next Johny Marr. But how many times have you heard that? I think being called the next Johnny Marr will only curse you into obscurity.
Here’s a Sundays fan site. Wow, she’s cute!God, I’m a dork.
I watched it from 10:30-11:30 CST so I did the Blur video. That’s who that guy was! I thought he looked familiar. Totally Jimmy!And the Sundays video was old. “You Know the Story Well” or whatever that song is called…
The video was “Here where the story ends” from Reading, Writing and Arithmatic. Yes, Phil Daniels is a bit of a folk hero in Britain (wonder why??) and Blur had him do the spoken-word parts on “Parklife.” That album came out and helped usher in the Mod movement of the mid-90s, the third time Mod has poked up (1965, 1978, 1995-ish). How many times will those Brit kids drag that old gear out? Who cares, I love Mod music and fashion and can’t wait for the next round.
I knew there was something unusually familiar about Jimmy’s voice in the several times I’ve watched Quadrophenia since getting the DVD – I could never quite grasp it. Sounds like I need to put Parklife back in the ‘heavy rotation’ group of my cd changer.As for the big 120, I fear I’m in the same boat as Jake – I just can’t bring myself to bear the hyperactive trendy-ness that so saturates MTV I feel it sapping my soul with every passing moment.Derek – you think the frequency of the Mod comeback is likely to increase? Vespas are already coming back in a big way, and I frequently see Ann Arbor’s local contingent cruising the streets. The fashion can’t be far off, either.
I think you can expect a new Mod movement in the next five years. For a variety of reasons: 1. Vespa has introduced a new line of scooters in the US. 2. It’s a new millenium and what’s more Modern than that?3. There’s the current trend of hippy-chick fashion just starting to catch and a Mod movement always follows on the heels of that.
Yeah, 120 Minutes was pretty cool in it’s time. I thought Dave Kendall was too stiff though. Good music, that’s all I’m looking for. I started out listening to classic rock and on the radio that well dried up quickly. It was nice to see some other outlet for music that deserved a wider audience but then that music got it and then corrupted. How does that music get out there without wrecking my own cool world? If …blah, blah, blah…If everyone listened to the Replacements would they be so special? It sure as hell wouldn’t be a private experience.
Philly Dave,But wouldn’t it be great to turn on the radio and hear something that didn’t make you puke? It’s weird, I get very possesive of bands too but I can’t help but write about them on this site and turn other people on to them. Of course, only the collest of cool read GLONO.
I saw a really cool PULP video the other day. It was for “Bad Cover Version” and it featured all these rock star lookalikes. Funny! (saw it on Muchmusic’s “The Wedge” show)Another funny & cool one was for a song called “Boogie #5” by Japan’s PUFFY AMI YUMI. It looked like a crazy Asian GAP ad. I think Japan and Sweden are putting out some interesting stuff lately.(GLONO rawks)
d. phillips,Yes. I hear ya. I do spend a good amount of time tunring people on to “good” music. I am constantly making tapes for people like the teenage daughters of co-workers or my uncle, whose head is stuck in 1984. Yes to the other comment about the radio too. I would rather hear Lamchop or Big Star blasting out of cars driving by. But hey, it is satisfying to say to my aunt, “Tom waits actually wrote ‘Jersey Girl’, not Bruce. Take a listen.” and then hear her say Tom’s version is better. I mean for Christ sakes, she now quotes Tom! All hope is not lost. P.S. What b GLONO i axe?
But does GLOrious NOise =GLONO? Just kidding. Keep up the good work.
Where is Dave Kendall really? Where is he and what is he doing now?