All the Music Played on MTV’s 120 Minutes: A 2,500-Video Youtube Playlist

The mid-nine­teen-nineties was not a time with­out irony. You may recall that, back then, “alter­na­tive” rock had not only gone main­stream, but, in cer­tain regions, had even become the most pop­u­lar genre of music on the radio. That was cer­tain­ly true in the Seat­tle area, where I grew up. And if you want­ed to start a rock band there, as writer Adam Cadre remem­bers, you knew what steps you had to take: “get a record deal, make a video, get it on 120 Min­utes, have it become a Buzz Clip, won­der why mas­sive suc­cess does­n’t ease the aching void inside.”

If you got into bands like 10,000 Mani­acs, Smash­ing Pump­kins, R.E.M., The Replace­ments, the Pix­ies, the Off­spring, or Son­ic Youth in the mid-nineties (to say noth­ing of a cer­tain trio called Nir­vana), chances are — sta­tis­ti­cal­ly speak­ing, at least — that you first saw them on 120 Min­utes.

At the peak of its pop­u­lar­i­ty on MTV, the show defined the alter­na­tive-rock zeit­geist, intro­duc­ing new bands as well as bring­ing new waves of lis­ten­ers to exist­ing ones. Though most strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the nineties, it pre­miered in 1986, host­ed by three of the first MTV VJs, J. J. Jack­son, Martha Quinn, and Alan Hunter. 36 years lat­er, you can relive the entire­ty of 120 Min­utes’ sev­en­teen-year run (with a brief revival in the twen­ty-tens) on Youtube.

A user named Chris Reynolds has cre­at­ed a playlist that appears to con­tain every song ever aired on 120 Min­utes. (Those have been doc­u­ment­ed by The 120 Min­utes Archive, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture.) Among the playlist’s more than 2,500 videos are songs — Vio­lent Femmes’ “Kiss Off,” The Psy­che­del­ic Furs’ “Love My Way,” Pearl Jam’s “Alive,” Fish­bone’s “Every­day Sun­shine,” R.E.M.‘s “Stand” — that will take you back to the pop-cul­tur­al eras 120 Min­utes spanned. But there are even more — Man­u­fac­ture’s “As the End Draws Near,” Lloyd Cole and the Com­mo­tions’ “Jen­nifer She Said,” Hel­met’s “Mil­que­toast,” Cause and Effec­t’s “You Think You Know Her” — that you may well have missed, even if you rocked your way through the eight­ies and nineties.

via Brook­lyn Veg­an

Relat­ed con­tent:

The 120 Min­utes Archive Com­piles Clips & Playlists from 956 Episodes of MTV’s Alter­na­tive Music Show (1986–2013)

Watch the First Two Hours of MTV’s Inau­gur­al Broad­cast (August 1, 1981)

Watch Nir­vana Go Through Rehearsals for Their Famous MTV Unplugged Ses­sions: “Pol­ly,” “The Man Who Sold the World” & More (1993)

Nir­vana Refus­es to Mime Along to “Smells Like Teen Spir­it” on Top of the Pops (1991)

William S. Bur­roughs — Alter­na­tive Rock Star — Sings with Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, REM & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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