MTV has seen its fair share of crazy: Madonna and Britney making out. Miley twerking on Robin Thicke. Kanye’s infamous “imma let you finish but” speech. But where has the “M” in MTV gone? From what I understand, MTV does not stand for “marketing teen pregnancy and celebrity mishaps” television.OK, so maybe I’m being overdramatic but my point is, where the fuck did the music go? The risky music videos? The trending charts? TRL?
After seasons of The Real World, Jersey Shore, and Are You the One?, MTV has finally decided to revive the culture we’ve desperately been craving (but don’t worry reality show lovers; these series are still pushing on). Since 1981, the network has been based in music but it’s no secret that in the past years, there has been scattered focus on the industry. Outside the soundtracks in their network dramas and the VMAs, MTV just isn’t the hub for music it once was. However, according to Erik Flannigan, MTV’s Executive Vice President of Music/Events Strategy & Development, things are changing.
Music, Down the Rabbit Hole: Wonderland
For the first time in two decades, MTV is playing a weekly one hour live music show that features 3 nightly performances. The channel promises artists that are diverse and unique with content that is completely exclusive.
Wonderland premiered in September with 135,000 viewers, paling in comparison to Teen Wolf’s 2.17 million views, for the first episode.
“Are the ratings where we’d like them to be? Not really,” Flannigan admitted. Numerically, it’s not a wild success, but he did add that having a myopia on ratings misses the point of a show like Wonderland. It’s not about the ratings or the money or any other commercial metrics. It’s simply about music and, really, how often do we get to say that?
MTV posted on their website:
“This show will live and breathe all things music while extending out into the broader world of relevant pop culture news and events… Wonderland is a show that is passionate, sharp, and is about the discovery of music but it’s always inclusive and never takes itself too seriously.”
More Than Something “Only 90’s Kids Will Get”: Unplugged
Authenticity is key for Wonderland, and the same goes for Unplugged. It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. But better. This program first aired in 1989 and quickly became a 90’s favorite. The classic series hosted popular artists that performed their most popular songs, live and stripped down to bare acoustics. Viewers were caught in an intimate session with names as big as Nirvana and Bruce Springsteen.
Revamped and still paying homage to the OG MTV, Unplugged 2.0 will set the performances on the multi platform world that we’re living in today. It’s like taking a Last.fm or a Vevo Presents and throwing it on your TV. At least, that’s what the network is hoping for. Like Wonderland, Unplugged wasn’t as big a hit as it was back in the 90s for its first season but, looping it back to Flannigan’s vision, that doesn’t matter. Only time will tell if it’ll be in it for the long haul.
MTV isn’t only bringing us performances. Rolling Stone reports rumors of a reality competition show produced by Mark Burnett (the man who brought us Shark Tank and Survivor) mingled with a music documentary series and an unscripted songwriting show from Scooter Braun Films (Yes, the Justin Beiber guy). Just a few more things to put MTV back on your music radar.
So how do you feel about this reinvention? Has MTV strayed too far from its roots to return? Or is the network putting the M back in its name?