WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

 

 

If you're old enough, you're grinning. If you're not, today's the day you learn about the late-night network answer to MTV, NBC's Friday Night Videos.

It's hard to believe now, but back in the early 80s, there were people who just didn't have cable TV. Even stranger, there were some cable companies who didn't even carry it. That I want my MTV campaign wasn't just marketing, it was an honest to goodness plea for survival. Of course, a plea like that always attracts scavengers, and out of that scavenging, Friday Night Videos was born. It was always nestled in that place between "voice of a generation" and "corporate Hail Mary" and maybe that's why it survived to the very edge of the 20th Century, even if nobody really noticed. After the jump, let's all remember Friday Night Videos together.

 

 

It cost NBC a ton of money to secure it, but their first non-cable premiere of the Thriller video was the biggest thing ever for network TV. Timed to play during the holiday weekend when the kids were out of school, Thriller made a generation finally stay up post-Carson, and there's a good chance it opened the world of Late Night television to those impressionable young minds. Friday Night Videos was almost immediately a major video player.

Of course, it was still NBC, so you never really saw anything daring. To learn about the more interesting music, you had to flip over to Night Flight. But if you wanted to see the video for that hit song you'd sing in the car or the one your girlfriend loved, the top-forty powerhouse of Friday Night Videos had you covered. Naturally, you'd also have to deal with stuff you probably hated, but that was just part of the magic. You'd never know what they'd serve you next.

 

 

One thing Friday Night Videos excelled at was covering all the bases. MTV divided up into blocks, so you'd get Yo! MTV Raps after school and Headbanger's Ball late at night, and it was easy to pick and choose your genre and forget the rest, but Friday Night Videos had only a few hours to show everything under the sun. They'd cram in new McCartney, old Doors, some Duran Duran, a little Michael Jackson, then close out with Air Supply. You might not enjoy it all, but you'd certainly know the music out there... unless it was something like Husker Du. But c'mon, Friday Night Videos was a top 40 kinda show. And nobody was playing Husker Du in the 80s.

 

 

Do you recognize these two non-singing members of Journey? The idea to include interviews instead of VJs really set Friday Night Videos apart from MTV. MTV could offer an in-studio guest for a few minutes, occasionally, but Friday Night Videos had NBC money and network ratings (and it also didn't hurt that the company owned radio stations in major markets) so they could get the artists to come in and host. You'd first see words from Bowie or Sting scattered between the videos, and once that caught on, you'd see musicians as real hosts for the entire show. When Ozzy and Dr. Ruth hosted the show, it was a huge deal, and some parent groups even complained. But he was charming and funny, and today? The guy's doing phone commercials! 

After Letterman added a Friday show, Friday Night Videos got pushed back a bit later. The new timeslot kept on with the weekly hosts, choosing mostly actors and comedians, maybe in an attempt to compete with shows like Arsenio Hall. The hosts got more daring, and began to take precedence over the videos.

 

By the 90s, more houses had cable. Since more kids were watching MTV's newer programs. NBC decided to follow these trends themselves by adding a regular comedian and in-studio performances. Because there was only so much room in the schedule, every new change meant less time to show the videos and that meant some fans started to move away from the show... but some still stayed around, and the show just kept on going.  Such was the power of the Friday Night Videos brand.

 

How many young professionals stayed up one Friday night after Conan, and said "Wow, is that show still on?" Despite all the changes, Friday Night Videos lasted until Carson Daily took over the slot, and the final Friday Night Videos aired on December 29th, 2000, on the very last Friday of the 20th Century. Naturally we can't confirm that ourselves because who was still watching Friday Night Videos once Napster showed up? If you wanted a video in the year 2000, you just downloaded it! But it's still nice to know the show survived all those years. Kinda like finding your old Tamagotchi and seeing it's just barely alive. It warms the heart to know it carried on without you!

 

If you were up late enough to see the Friday Night Video credits, you'd discovered a whole new world. Maybe some late movie or sitcom, or maybe just the local sign offs. Remember, back then, everybody from HBO to Nickelodeon eventually went to bed. To see those credits was to violate all the rules of bedtime. You were grown-up at last!

Today we take for granted that all we have to do is hit Google to see any crazy video we want but pre-internet, information wasn't so easy to find. If you're old enough, you've got fond memories of learning music from Friday Night Videos and if you're not... well, maybe you'll still enjoy laughing at the commercials. But for those of us who grew up without cable, Friday Night Videos was huge. So why not tell us your late night story in the comments below?



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donnyj226


quality posts: 1 Private Messages donnyj226

Before MTV and Friday Night Videos, there was The Midnight Special, shining its everloving light on the children of the 70s.

bnhadams


quality posts: 2 Private Messages bnhadams

FNV was awesome for those without cable. And of course, that was back in the day when you could still see music videos on MTV.

DennisG2010


quality posts: 20 Private Messages DennisG2010

Ugh - I'm old enough, but I'm not grinning.
Thanks for reminding me how much pop music - and pop culture in general - SUCKED in the '80s.

Of course, pop still sucks, but the '80s set the precedent for ramming horrendous "entertainment" down your throat until you had no choice but to consume it.

Despite the manufactured, homogenized, auto-tuned, image-before-talent world of today's pop, I think the '80s still takes the prize for the most vile era of pop culture yet.

And no, it wasn't all bad, but the bad was ubiquitous, constant and consistent enough to outweigh the rare, obscure and underexposed tidbits of good.

DennisG2010


quality posts: 20 Private Messages DennisG2010

Was just thinking about what music I was into in the '80s; the 3 bands I loved and listened to the most throughout the decade (and still do), made their best music in the '70s and then died unceremoniously by the mid '80s.

Maybe that's why I hate you so much 1980s, you killed The Who, The Clash and The Police. In fact, you killed Rock.

Rock is dead. Long live Rock.

pooflady


quality posts: 20 Private Messages pooflady
DennisG2010 wrote:Was just thinking about what music I was into in the '80s; the 3 bands I loved and listened to the most throughout the decade (and still do), made their best music in the '70s and then died unceremoniously by the mid '80s.

Maybe that's why I hate you so much 1980s, you killed The Who, The Clash and The Police. In fact, you killed Rock.

Rock is dead. Long live Rock.



Long before that. American Pie.



When I was a kid I wanted to be older, this CRAP is NOT what I expected.

DennisG2010


quality posts: 20 Private Messages DennisG2010
pooflady wrote:Long before that. American Pie.



Ah - definitely a subject worthy of debate, but I consider "Rock 'n' Roll" and "Rock" to be two separate genres.

IMHO (and I don't claim to be an authority on the subject), American Pie is about the death of "Rock 'n Roll".

The exact birthdate and parentage of "Rock" is highly debatable as well, but I'd put it at the early-mid '60s, most likely of British origin.

Again, I'm no expert and this is just my opinion.

I stand by my opinion that the '80s killed "Rock".

Slydon


quality posts: 17 Private Messages Slydon

Staff

DennisG2010 wrote:I stand by my opinion that the '80s killed "Rock".



i think based on your examples it was actually heroin, liquor and ego

Hi, I'm one of the writers. My powers are limited but I'll do what I can.

DeadDutch


quality posts: 1 Private Messages DeadDutch

Takes me way back...

rayray099


quality posts: 6 Private Messages rayray099

I was kinda young, but music's always been important in my family's house. I remember in the early 90's, living in a tiny trailor, my dad laid up from a rollerblading 'incident' (it's ok to laugh), and him watching videos on what I thought was MTV. I'm realizing now it could have been NBC, although I'm not sure we had that one on basic cable. Being in 'the country' has its downfalls. Am I painting a vivid picture, here?
Anyways, the vids that stick out for me are something by Wilson and Phillips (thin Carney!) and MJ's 'Black or White.'
Having shared all this sensitive info means I'll have to kill you all; kindly PM me your addresses. Thanks in advance!

dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

Michael Jackson was still black then!

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

Slydon wrote:i think based on your examples it was actually heroin, liquor and ego



I thought it was turning into an adult, buying a house and having kids.

I guess I lucked out that it died right around the time I had other things to do.

Come to think about it, I don't remember missing any concerts when the kids were small. Never considered it was that the bands we were seeing stopped touring.

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

garryu


quality posts: 0 Private Messages garryu

They still make music videos? I haven't seen one for probably 10 years until someone linked me to the Katy Perry one with Elmo on Sesame Street.

DennisG2010


quality posts: 20 Private Messages DennisG2010
Slydon wrote:i think based on your examples it was actually heroin, liquor and ego



Haha - touche!
Those were certainly contributing factors, but then again, you could say that those 3 things (or variations thereof) have played a significant part in the rise and fall of every great artist.

FenStar


quality posts: 16 Private Messages FenStar

People still have cable TV???

OTA in HD for $0 +
hulu for $0 (or $8 if you want HD) +
netflicks for $10

= all the shows you pay $100's for on cable, and most can be watched at your own leisure.

Still single, can't imagine why.

bkd69


quality posts: 3 Private Messages bkd69

hahaha - no.

I would submit that the 80s was the last great decade of pop music, based on the variety of music that made it into the top 40.

The 80s was the last time that the following artists and genres all had top 40 hits:

Irving Berlin
rockabilly
musical theatre
Slade
The Scorpions
Cameo (and perhaps George Clinton, but I'm not sure how high any of his music charted in the 90s))
doo wop
Herbie Hancock
Rush

And the seeds for the 90s revival of swing, and the third wave of ska were sown in the 80s. And let's not forget the best music ever about nuclear armageddon.

All that being said, I readily concede that the 80s were the worst decade ever for saxual abuse.

Now, while the using the top 40 chart as a metric is flawed, as it represents recording industry sales and promotions, the fact that such variety was present in the charts in spite of, or because of that, I feel only bolsters my case. Of course, the failure of the recoding industry to deliver anything even remotely resembling that variety in the decades subsequent simply drove everyone who cared to the internet, and we're all much better off for it.

Your Woot Is Not My Woot, But Your Woot Is OK.

bkd69


quality posts: 3 Private Messages bkd69

As an addendum, my absolute favorite late night weekend viewing was Saturday Night Dead, airing on Philly's NBC affiliate after Saturday Night Live.

It was your regular hosted horror movie showcase, starring 'Stella, the Maneater of Manayunk,' with an always interesting selection of titles.

Your Woot Is Not My Woot, But Your Woot Is OK.

nrwyldheaven


quality posts: 1 Private Messages nrwyldheaven

And for those who couldn't stay up late, there was Kidd Video on saturday morning.

bitman


quality posts: 14 Private Messages bitman
bkd69 wrote:I would submit that the 80s was the last great decade of pop music, based on the variety of music that made it into the top 40.


I submit that the variety on the top-40 was due to the smallness of the world. If music was to be popular at all, it had to get onto pop radio.

Today, we have access to all those genres and more, without needing to go anywhere near the Billboard corporation. Artists can be popular in their circles without being "pop".

You will never hear Symphony X on the top-40 because the top-40 doesn't want it, and Symphony X doesn't need it. (They would *like* to get there of course, since it would mean increased exposure and income. But they don't *need* it.)

And so "pop" music has become more of a Fisher Price my-first-rock-concert for the younglings, while the rest of us have grown up and found something more personally enjoyable.

mrtuba9


quality posts: 1 Private Messages mrtuba9

Yeah, we had Friday Night Videos before MTV on our cable system...

60 woots, 102 items, 34x1, 7x2, 18x3 (3x3 ßÕÇ-now retired), 9 unique shirt.woot, 1 sellout.woot <--OUTDATED (except the martini ;')

wisesage


quality posts: 3 Private Messages wisesage
bitman wrote:And so "pop" music has become more of a Fisher Price my-first-rock-concert for the younglings, while the rest of us have grown up and found something more personally enjoyable.



That's great

sometimes i like to put on the cape and scream like a monkey.

craigthom


quality posts: 63 Private Messages craigthom

USA's "Night Flight" was terrific. For years I had a crappy VHS tape of an evening that included "Night Flight's Guide to Dating", a collection of '50s "hygiene" films, the Raybeats' cover of Jack the Ripper, and my introduction to Skinny Puppy.

"Up All Night" sucked. "Night Flight" was the best thing on television.

Rasnaig


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Rasnaig

I remember that stuff as well. Flight Night was good but started repeating itself toward the end. Headbanger's ball was pretty good too when Snider was running it as it did played a lot of metal though it switched to non-metal often by the time that Riki or whatever his name too over. Even dipped to anti-metal before finally dying.

I also remember Amp somewhere in that time frame. Now started well too but got really weird (and sucky) toward the end.

We also had a jukebox video station where people can call in an pay for a video to be played (something like a dollar or so). As one can imagine, the selection of music being played was very different than what MTV had on rotation (back when they played videos). MTV put its foot down and force the cable company to shut it down. Interesting how what kind of music people actually choose with their wallet was so very different than what big corporations what the masses to hear. at least we now have the internet.