Whatever Happened to the Music Channels?
MTV is not Music TV anymore
First Published for Delhilive.com on 17 March 2010
Anyone out there who has been watching MTV recently? Or Channel V, our homegrown MTV? Me neither. And yet I think of myself as the MTV generation. I remember when MTV first came to India and my friends and I would exchange notes about which videos to watch out for; our favourites at the time were amusing acts such as Right Said Fred, Apache Indian, Khaled etc. We used to watch and wait for our fave songs even tape them on the VCR (that dates us I know) and then watch and rewatch them.
There was a mushrooming of homegrown talent such as the hilarious Baba Sehgal (remember the priceless Main bhi Madonna and Manjula?) videos or Indus Creed who made some very fine songs and interesting videos to go with that. Even a classical singers such as Shubha Mudgal and truly fine mainstream singers such as Shankar Mahadevan did some memorable videos. For me it was a way to access what was going on in the music world, so I knew what was worth listening to and what was worth spending money on before I made my trip to Rhythm House to part with by hard earned allowance money.
Then there was the odd top 10 show of film songs thrown in but that was by the way. The point being, that MTV and Channel V were about music. Whenever you switched on, you were likely to see an interesting video and hear a hummable song. There was MTV Grind which shocked parents and kids loved.There was the Headbangers Balls for hard rockers, shows for those that liked alternative music, those that enjoyed light trendy pop; in short it was music television.
Music channels celebrated all things Zany
What was also unique about the music channels were their fillers: whacky, strange, uproarious, sometimes shocking, but always creative. They gave us classic lines such as We are like this only! and Mind it! There were a number of amusing MTV characters and VJs who had a cult following. The VJs were about style, humour and above all about music.
Music Channels Today
Sadly none of that exists now. The music channels are now extended, never ending promos for upcoming Hindi films interspersed with a bunch of reality shows. All pretense about it being about music has vanished. So much so that MTV is now officially just MTV, they have dropped the Music Television tag from their name. Rather than evolving into a better platform for showcasing music talent, the music channels have transformed into a series of mundane adolescent reality shows which seem to compete with one another to see how badly behaved their participants can be.
The way we consume music has changed
If we now want to watch music videos, we go to youtube or download them and put them on the ipod. The fact is the way we consume music has changed, which ultimately sounded a death knell for the music channels; now they are just channels without the music and the wit. Pity; I miss them.