Saving music video?


Watching MTV for the first time in 1985 was one of those rare media moments. Three minute music videos on endless rotation, only interrupted by commercials and those ultra short, deadpan MTV self-promotion jingles. Yes, this was something completely different, discovering new potential in boring old television. Suddenly the music video was the popular culture genre par excellence, and it didn’t take long for media scholars to produce heavy books where those intense, image-devouring masterpieces were deconstructed by post-lacanian-derridaean postmodern theory. Madonna was the perfect MTV artist, and that Easter in New York 23 years ago “Material Girl” was on MTV’s heaviest rotation.

But who misses MTV in the YouTube era? MTV is too slick for this age of home-made, everything-goes, the-grainier-the-better shot-in-the-livingroom video. Until a website shows up to give the music video a real web chance, and it’s so fitting that the first video I watch on (a Berlin-based company) is Madonna’s Hung Up. offers a stripped-down page, only the video image in the middle, otherwise black with a small logo. The image quality is good. There is advertising (that’s how it’s financed), but not as often as on traditional commercial TV (see the Pink screenshot below, the Madonna screenshot is atypical, where a product is displayed directly “around” the video). No user comments. For the time being the service is only available in Germany.


Discovering is not on the level of the 1985 MTV moment (on the web that would be Netscape’s browser or the Google search field). But it’s the first time in a long while that I have actually watched a music video with real concentration; giving the genre a second chance is itself an achievement.

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