time to change the way we view music and the arts

Isn’t It Great When Things Just “Pop-Up” in Your Life Again?

You could take my question to be sincere or sarcastic, depending on what kinds of “things” appear out of nowhere in your particular realm of the world. Nothing just appears out of nowhere, even if we wish that was the case so that we could be blameless if something unfortunate comes of it. Who here hasn’t had an embarrassing story be brought to the front lines when a friend or acquaintance (or even worse, an enemy,) manages to drop our personal mishap into the water cooler talk?

(The headline for today’s post also happens to take a slight stab at another pop-culture related development: the imminent arrival of the next Facebook layout, Facebook Timeline, which from how it’s explained to be all about displaying your entire active life with facebook in categorized, very visible, chronological order, seems to indicate that a person’s potentially uncouth or simply unwanted past could come back to haunt them if they’re not careful about their privacy settings!)

It’s the good things that we tend to appreciate dropping in, and this kind of stuff usually comes hand in hand with nostalgia, since, as I just said, everything has to come from somewhere. Great examples: finding a 20 dollar bill in your jeans after taking them out of the dryer or finding that “thought to be forever lost” mix cd your best friend made for you in high school. For that mix cd, old school music channel Vh1 is throwing the music world a metaphorical blast from the past out from behind the bookcase and back into their program rotation after going off-air in 2002. What I’m referring to is a staple of 90s music television, the TV show teeming with music and celebrity trivia for the ultimate fan, “Pop-Up Video.”

Premiering almost 15 years ago to the date, (we’re shy of the benchmark about three weeks,) Pop-Up Video hit Vh1 in 1996 and gave a whole new appealing reason to embrace the pre-destined life of repetition that any popular music video would inevitably inherit. Combining regular daytime/nighttime plays with additional plays by competitor channel, MTV through programs like “Total Request Live,” otherwise known as TRL, (at least during its former apex, wherein entire videos were played and not just 30 second snippets, which is what the show eventually cut down to; shortening overall program time.) Pop-Up Video would play a video in its entirety but have little speech-style bubbles intermittently appear in all places on the screen, either commenting on something you’re actually seeing in the video or just spouting random that could range from things about people in the video, things that occurred during production or even just facts completed unrelated to the video or artist but relevant to Pop-Up Video’s own “conversation with itself” so to speak. For example, if a pop up just mentioned the band “The Presidents of the United States,” then the next bubble might say something about one of the presidents and proceed on that tangent for several more trivia bits before getting back to the music content. Some might think of it as unnecessary but it could also be viewed as vh1’s own attempt at relative humor since the producers know people are watching these bubbles like a good student listening in lecture.

Iconic artists and bands alike were featured on this show through their equally iconic videos. Being a staple of the mid 90s, teenage singers and boy bands were in full swing. A program that features previously unknown pieces of information about your favorite male vocalist or favorite band is the perfect way to exploit…erhm, I mean, capitalize, on the listener and fan market. Of course, since phenomenons like iTunes and mp3s either didn’t exist or exist in commonplace capacity like they do now, vh1 didn’t have to think about much cross consumer activity. Pop Up Video and music video watching in general, was a music related activity unique to itself. You didn’t download music videos, you didn’t carry them on your mobile phone, so tuning it to MTV or vh1 was the American teenager’s main way for regular access, which often immediately followed stepping off the school bus to catch TRL, That being said, it just meant that the era of music videos and music video ratings was almost like a time of serendipitous existence for music TV producers because they just had to focus on making sure people watched and with no relatable device or access method competing for viewers, it couldn’t have been easier unless a single channel managed to take over.

With the return of Pop-Up Video happening just yesterday at noon EST, in honor of music, pop culture, nostalgia and for everyone who has every been even a little crazy over any band, I’m posting one of my favorite music videos below. The first time I saw this video I thought it was so cool that there were regular music students, and violinists in particular, being featured alongside major stars like *NSYNC and Gloria Estefan. What was your favorite music video growing up? Was it ever on Pop-Up? Share your thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS