Has it been 20 years already? I guess so. Starting a couple years after I was born, MTV has undoubtedly caused a revolution not only in the way that music is marketed to a mass audience, but its visual style has been constantly refered to when discussing the heavily edited style that most entertainment for the "MTV Generation" is provided with.
To celebrate this anniversary, Image Entertainment is releasing a 4 disc set highlighting some of the most popular videos in four different genres. This third disc that I've looked at out of the four DVD set ("Pop") is a bit different than the other discs in the set for the fact that it leans rather heavily towards the early era of music videos to represent the genre instead of offering a more pleasing mix of both old and new, which "Rock" did especially well.
For those who are fans of older pop tunes, there are quite a few actual solid tunes (Lionel Richie's "All Night Long", Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now", Tears For Fears' "Shout"), but for every pop gem there's a few that I could have done without (Big Country's "In A Big Country"). The newer pop tunes are a mixed bag as well; although many have tired of the constant radio play of Smash mouth's "Walkin' On The Sun", I still find it a fairly catchy tune. The same goes for Semisonic's "Closing Time". On the other hand, K-Ci and JoJo's tune feels like it should have gone on the Jams disc and Aqua's "Barbie Girl" was a rather irritating techno-pop effort whose only claim to fame was that apparently Matel sued them over using the Barbie name. Although I'm not a particular fan of either, the boy band and girl singer groups of today feel oddly left out, as do some of the other top pop stars who have had a big influence from years past.
Songs: Cars (Gary Numan), I Ran (A Flock of Seagulls), Promises Promises (Naked Eyes), One Thing Leads to Another (The Fixx), In a Big Country (Big Country), Everyday I Write the Book (Elvis Costello), All Night Long (Lionel Richie), Hold Me Now (Thompson Twins), Shout (Tears for Fears), All Around the World (Lisa Stansfield), Barbie Girl (Aqua), Walkin' on the Sun (Smash Mouth), Tubthumping (Chumbawamba), All My Life (K-Ci and Jojo), Closing Time (Semisonic). 71 minutes.
The 4 DVD MTV 20 Set is available for a retail price of $59.99. The three main discs (Rock, Pop, Jams) are available separately, but if you buy the full set, there is an extra disc of "Beats" videos, including artists like Moby and Chemical Brothers.
VIDEO: While the "Rock" edition presented the videos with consistently pleasing video quality, the "Pop" edition doesn't hold up quite as well. Some of the older videos like "Cars" and the Elvis Costello video display several print flaws throughout the clips: marks, scratches, hairs and speckles do appear at a fairly frequent rate. Some of the older clips fare better, and the newer videos look as crisp and well-defined as they did during their broadcast on the network.
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.
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:: "Fast Facts" is a feature that can be turned on or off - much like "Pop Up Video" it provides little factoids about the band occasionally during the videos. It seemed to pop up rather infrequently, but offered some interesting tidbits when it did. Also included are artist profiles and discographies as well as some of the more creative MTV commericals that have aired over the years.
Final Thoughts: Although the "Rock" video didn't quite offer the latest videos, at least it offered a good mix of subgenres of Rock; the "Beats" DVD also offered up a nice mix of techno-ish tunes. "Pop", while coming in with a few hits, leans towards the old a little too much and doesn't really pick the best of the new, either. Audio/video quality is fairly consistent with the rest of the series, as well. If you're a fan of any or some of the videos included, you might find "Pop" worth picking up. Otherwise, a rental.