After the success of MTV, the music channel’s creators decided to branch out with VH1. Initially, the cable channel aired music programing for older audience members such as videos featuring Kenny Rogers, Carly Simon and Olivia Newton-John. The music channel is still popular. However, its current format is vastly different as the station airs few music videos. Instead, viewers can watch a variety of reality programing that focuses on music, celebrities and countdowns.
The History of VH1
VH1 began on January 1, 1985. The show’s creators started the station’s production from a space that Turner Broadcasting had previously used for a program called “Cable Music Channel.” Since VH1s original target audience was for people from ages 18 to 35, the station’s first video was “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Marvin Gaye. In addition, VH1 employed a variety of radio personalities to appear on camera and introduce its music videos including Don Imus, Frankie Crocker and Jon Bauman.
During its early years, VH1 broadcast videos created by performers like Janet Jackson, Celine Dion and Cher as well as Madonna, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. At a video’s beginning and end, the station would list the name of the artist, year that the video was made and the record label information. Later, VH1 added comedian Rosie O’Donnell to its video jockey, or VJ, lineup. The comic also introduced the music channel’s standup comedy show, which allowed different comedians to perform. By the late 1990s, the music station began expanding its programming and added shows that would appeal to younger viewers. During 2002, VH1 started playing videos created by popular rap musicians such as Eminem, Missy Elliott and Jay-Z. The station also added music from Latin entertainers including Enrique Iglesias, Shakira and Ricky Martin.
The cable channel’s original owner was Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, which was a division of the Warner Communications Company, while VH1s current owner is Viacom. The music channel’s website is www.VH1.com, and viewers can visit the site for information about programing and celebrities. In addition, website visitors may also tune in to watch music videos. VH1 has several sister channels including VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul and VH1 MegaHits.
The Top VH1 Shows
Television viewers who enjoy countdowns will often tune to VH1 since the music channel features a variety of shows dedicated to counting down different topics. In 1994, the show’s creators introduced “VH1 Top 10 Countdown,” which rated current videos beginning with number 10 and ending with the number one video. The station used a variety of methods to determine the top spot including radio airplay, record sales and message boards. Later, the show became the “VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown.” The channel also counts down movies, one hit wonders and memorable celebrity moments.
Another popular VH1 show was “Pop-Up Video.” The program would air a video with added information about the performing artist or band. The show’s interesting facts included career highlights, quotes from the musicians and amusing stories.
In 1996, the music channel launched “VH1 Storytellers.” The popular show featured musicians performing their hit songs for a small audience. In between songs, the show’s performers would share compelling stories about their music including the meaning of specific songs, how a song was inspired and details about their writing methods. Numerous entertainers participated in the VH1 show including Def Leppard, Tom Waits and Culture Club.
VH1 also gained success with the biography series called “Behind the Music.” The show debuted in 1997, and the first episode featured the lip-syncing band Milli Vanilli. Each episode focused on one entertainer or group and gave viewers details about their music career including successful moments and times when they struggled. The program’s creators often chose to focus on musicians who had left the music industry, contributed significantly to rock history or died.
To highlight the lives of superior musicians, the cable channel created the show “VH1 Legends.” Episodes featured details about musicians like Elton John, Tina Turner and John Lennon. Another popular VH1 show is its “I Love the” series. In 2002, the cable channel began with “I Love the ‘80s” and moved through each year of the 1980s with highlights such as popular sitcoms, music, fashion and toys. The show’s success inspired continuations with “I Love the ‘90s,” “I Love the ‘70s” and “I Love the New millennium.” The show’s creators expanded the theme with episodes like “I Love the Holidays” and “I Love Toys.”