VH1 Classic: A Music Video Network That Actually Lives Up to Its Name

Decent music video networks are few and far between these days. MTV and VH1 long ago ceased even being music video networks by any reasonable sense of the term. The only time either network still plays videos is in the middle of the night. One music video network that still dedicates most of its airtime to music videos is VH1's sister network VH1 Classic. This network's emphasis on music videos from the "classic" era of MTV and VH1 (i.e. the 1980s), as well as on older music from the 1960s and 1970s that predates music videos, makes VH1 Classic a music video network that actually lives up to its name.

The extent to which any individual will like the music on VH1 Classic depends directly on how much they like classic rock music. People that do not (like many of the young whippersnappers of today) will not be interested in VH1 Classic; people that do like classic rock (like yours truly) will find themselves in a kind of video heaven.

Although music videos do make up the bulk of VH1 Classic's programming, they are congregated into thematic blocks. These recurring blocks typically have either a genre theme or a time-period theme. "Metal Mania" features heavy metal music; "Pop Show" features soft rock and adult contemporary; "We Are the '80s" features tunes from that seminal music video decade; "Rock Fest" features a more general mix of classic rock; "Tuesday 2 Play" features video twofers by various artists. A regular request block is also in the channel's video mix, with requests taken on the channel's website (which is a section of the main VH1 site).

Other, non-music video programming appears on a regular basis, too, but at least (unlike VH1 and MTV) it is all strictly related to the channel's focus, classic rock. "Rock n' Roll Picture Show" is a rock-related movie umbrella that was transferred from the parent network, VH1. "Classic Concert" is a replay of a concert film or videotaped concert from the vintage era. "Decades Rock Live" is a series of new concerts that pairs a classic act with a current act. Selected documentaries air as well, such as the current one called "Heavy: The Story of Metal."

Since virtually all of its programming was created twenty or more years ago, VH1 Classic is a perfect example of "repurposing" by media conglomerates (VH1, VH1 Classic, and MTV are all part of Viacom). Classic was likely created in part to take advantage of all that (mostly) dormant media inventory, in part to fill the role that VH1 itself used to fill, i.e. music video for the "older" generation of music lovers. Although many media critics abhor this kind of strategy, also used by cable networks such as TV Land, TNT, and USA, it allows constant circulation of, in the case of VH1 Classic, music videos that would otherwise not see continued exposure--in addition to the scheduling of obscure programs that would never be seen anywhere else.

It also allows for extra special programming events without cluttering up the airwaves of parent network VH1 or uncle network MTV. This week's 25th birthday of MTV (which I have featured in the past few days in a news post and a video clip retrospective) is a case in point: MTV refuses to recognize its silver anniversary, so it is being done on VH1 Classic through the playing of the first 24 hours of MTV programming from August 1, 1981. (MTV Day One played this past Tuesday, the actual anniversary, and will be playing again tomorrow, Saturday, August 5, starting at 9 am EST/8 am CST.) And so, as it does in every other respect, VH1 Classic takes up the mantle of recognizing and celebrating the history of music video.

(Image source: www.vh1.com)

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