Tamara Palmer: How the 'Billie Jean' Video Changed MTVRoundup: Talking About History
tags: 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
- Obama May Create Monument to Gay Rights Movement
- China to release last prisoner jailed over Tiananmen Square protests
- Marine Corps investigating photo of iconic flag-raising on Iwo Jima
- Scholars Blast New Study Tracing Ashkenazi Jews to Khazars of Ancient Turkey
- Legendary Explorer’s Long-Lost Ship May Have Been Found Off Rhode Island
- The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
- Andrew Roberts wins $250,000 prize from the conservative Bradley Foundation
- Daniel Aaron, Critic and Historian Who Pioneered American Studies, Dies at 103
- Liz Covart's amazingly popular podcast helps her audience understand early American history
- Justus Rosenberg is still teaching at age 95