During the four years I spent at college, I would have a commute of about an hour and fifteen minutes each way. Part of that would be on the train, part of that would be walking. I needed something that could be calming and, at the same time, provide a solid beat for the walk ahead. For a while, ska music, with it's energy and bounce, mainly served that purpose. Although I still like ska, my taste has mainly switched over to electronic/techno, which is why I was eager for this to be the next edition of the "MTV 20th Anniversary" discs that I'm reviewing.
This disc is actually the "bonus" disc for the set, not available anywhere else but in the four disc box set. It includes some electronic/techno music, but also throws in a little bit of rap, as well. The rap highlight is "Jump Around" by House Of Pain, a catchy song that really held on to the charts for quite some time a few years ago. Two of the more popular electronic artists also provide tracks as well - Moby with "Bodyrock" and the Chemical Brothers with "Setting Sun". The Moby video is fairly amusing as the entire thing is simply odd folks trying out for the music video that they're already in. It's a bit of a satire of the whole process and it works fairly well.
The disc is rounded off with Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam" and two fairly unknowns; Jungle Brothers with "Get Down" and Fluke with "Atom Bomb". As an essentially free "bonus" if you buy the disc it's quite a nice additional extra, but I would have liked to have seen a fuller exploration of electronic music and its effect on MTV.
VIDEO: The videos on this edition are all newer songs, but the slight inconsistency here is mainly due to the way that some of these seem to have been filmed. For example, "Jump Around" is filmed with a slightly grainy, rough look while Moby's "Bodyrock" video looks slightly primitive since it was apparently shot on a low-budget video format. Sharpness and detail were generally pretty good throughout the videos, with each of the clips looking well-defined and crisp. No pixelation or other similar problems popped up during the videos and last, but not least, colors generally looked well-rendered and bold, with the exception of a couple of the videos that used a subdued palette.
SOUND: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (more on that in a moment), I was generally pleased with the audio presentation, which was consistent throughout the entire program. Although some of the older videos didn't quite have the same dynamic sound quality that the newer videos provided, the way that the videos were remixed was simple and effective. The music is spread out mainly across the front two speakers (the sound is actually 4.1), the surrounds offer a very nice re-inforcement of the music without simply blasting the same thing as the fronts, allowing the viewer to feel more enveloped by the mix than having the music come from all sides at once. Being the "Beats" edition of the MTV discs, there's also some very nice low bass in "Jump Around" and "Bodyrock".
MENUS:: First, look for a funny "MTV-ized" version of the FBI Warning that Image usually presents before the main menu. The main menu itself is lightly animated, with music in the background.
EXTRAS:: Bios and discographies.
Final Thoughts: "Beats" is a nice supplement to the box set (available only w/the box), with a few strong videos. The disc doesn't provide quite as much in the way of extras as the other discs, but provides similarly solid audio/video.