MTV turns the big 3-0 today. You know what that means: No more twin beds, Froot Loops or takings shots on a weekday. It's all back pain, fiber cereals and apple-picking trips from here on out. But seriously though — the “music” channel hasn't aged well.
It once seemed to have so much potential! Back in the '90s — before The Hills and 16 and Pregnant — MTV hit its peak. The shows were great. They even played music. No wonder MTV is reliving its glory days by resurrecting the alt-rock show 120 Minutesand Beavis & Butt-head later this year. (Speaking of which, when you get a chance peep Jason Roche's top ten music video moments from the old B&B.)
For our money, in its 14-year run 120 was the ultimate ongoing documentary of the grunge era. We Gen-Xers remember staying up late to gawk at a bleached blonde Thom Yorke or to watch Nada Surf videos.
Excited about its new life, we got nostalgic about other smart and original '90s MTV gems we used to watch. Here are five more shows that deserve a second life.
5. Alternative Nation (1992 – 1997)
120 Minutes' “mainstream sister” had musician co-hosts and awkward interviews with ennui-stricken alternative rockers, like Rivers Cuomo in this video. You either loved or hated host Kennedy, but her goofy sarcasm and dorkiness were refreshing in a genre that sometimes took itself too seriously.
4. Headbangers Ball (1987 – 1995)
Road trips and unruly interviews captured the untamed spirit of heavy metal and hard rock, such as this video from 1991 in which Kurt Cobain dons a yellow gown to the Ball. (You see what he did there?)
3. Remote Control (1987 – 1990)
Hey, it's an MTV game show that's not about dating! Room Raiders, Next and Date My Mom make us feel douchey. But MTV's first non-music show never did. Hosted by the late and great Ken Ober, brain fart-suffering players sat in La-Z-Boy chairs and answered questions about pop culture such as, “Is this celebrity 'dead' or 'Canadian?'” It was the definition of lowbrow, but hilarious and sort of educational, nonetheless.
2. Daria (1997 – 2002)
It's scary how a generation related to this animated satire: Everyone's favorite sarcastic teenager made us feel OK about not succumbing to high school's superficiality. Even better, it featured a catchy theme by Splendora and second-rate grunge with a cute cartoon lead singer, courtesy of Mystik Spiral.
1. Yo! MTV Raps (1988 – 1995)
Yo! brought the poetic streets of hip-hop into suburban living rooms and introduced us to a different kind of rock star: The hip-hop star. Live performances and impromptu freestyles were done with flavor and élan, like ODB's infamous drunk rap from 1995. These days, Sucker Free is MTV's main hip-hop show, but many agree it severely lacks the authenticity and diversity of its predecessor.