Tamara Palmer: How the 'Billie Jean' Video Changed MTVtags: pop culture, The Root, Billie Jean, Michael Jackson, MTV, pop music
(The Root) -- "Billie Jean," who was not Michael Jackson's lover, is turning 30 -- or at least her video is, and it's an important anniversary in the evolution of both black music's visual expression and America's iconic music network. On March 10, 1983, MTV played "Billie Jean" for the first time and forever changed the course of its music programming in the process.
"MTV's playlist was 99 percent white until Michael Jackson forced his way on the air by making the best music videos anyone had ever seen," Rob Tannenbaum, co-author of I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, told The Root. "Compared to Michael, MTV staples like REO Speedwagon and Journey suddenly looked even more boring. And when Michael's videos created higher ratings for MTV, network executives claimed they'd 'learned a lesson' and tentatively embraced the softer side of black pop music, especially Lionel Richie."
Tannenbaum's book, an oral history featuring artists, label executives and MTV executives, recounts the frequently cited story that CBS Records president Walter Yetnikoff threatened to pull his artists from MTV if "Billie Jean" wasn't put in rotation....
comments powered by Disqus
- Joan Baez, Sly Stone, Steve Martin, Ben E. King -- all honored by the Library of Congress
- StoryCorps to Launch Global Expansion With $1M TED Prize
- Hofstra Event Looks at Bush Presidency
- Did Israel steal uranium from a town in Pennsylvania in the 1960s?
- Sequel to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom to be published next year
- History Camp "unconference" returns for the second year in Boston
- History Department at Connecticut College deplores Facebook post on Palestinians
- Historians join other scholars in protesting Georgia's anti-gay legislation
- Homeland Security historian builds winning case against Salvadoran leader who oversaw crimes
- What Howard Zinn taught the students of Spelman College