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I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution
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I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,313 Ratings  ·  437 Reviews
Named One of the Best Books of 2011 by NPR – Spin - USA Today – CNBC - Pitchfork - The Onion - The Atlantic - The Huffington Post – VEVO - The Boston Globe - The San Francisco Chronicle

For fans of VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave

Remember the first time you saw Michael Jackson dance with zombies in "Thriller"? Diamond Dave karate kick with Van Halen in "Ju
Kindle Edition, 608 pages
Published (first published October 1st 2011)
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Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ay Ay Ay... I could go on for hours but fear that's a bad idea. But at the risk of sounding like a complete loser, I'll at least write something.

As an MTV staffer during the years covered in this book, and friend and/or coworker of too many of the people interviewed, I have a unique perspective to comment... (unique or worthless - that's what I can't decide.) But, I was a pretty insignificant cog in the wheel.

The bottom line is that the book really captured a huge range of the dimensions of the
Amar Pai
Readable enough, but there's a surprising dearth of wild and crazy stories. It's more a collection of A&R types bickering about arcana like who should get the credit for MTV Unplugged. As if it were the cure for cancer!

I've read really great oral histories, e.g. Once in a Lifetime: The Crazy Days of Acid House and After . They weave together a fantastically entertaining tale that's greater than the sum of its parts. With I Want My MTV the assorted interviews never coalesce into anything so
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-read
This is the second book I have desired to read in some electronic format with internet connection (the first being 1Q84 because the darn thing was HEAVY.) Reading this book, I greatly desired the internet as I was reading because I wanted to watch the videos as they discussed them. Because watching videos while reading a paper copy involved me getting up out of my chair and booting up the laptop (which is chained up so I can't bring it to my chair)I didn't watch as many videos as I would want to ...more
Hank Stuever
It shouldn't be this hard to get me interested in the complete oral history of the birth and rise and fall of MTV, as it synchs up perfectly with my adolescence and young adulthood. This book managed to get into just about everything that made MTV what it was, but it also somehow makes it all seem quite dull -- which surprised me, even with benefit of adult hindsight. There are some real hilarious moments and quips, in which various rock stars, producers and directors remember the inanity of bei ...more
Michael McCarty
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I WANT MY MTV takes you back to when the hair was high and so were the shoulder pads.
It really is a sad commentary on MTV ... that goes from "Hungry Like The Wolf" to "Jersey Shore" in one lifetime.
A lot of interesting stories about the making of the videos and the channel's movers and shakers. A fascinating look at the "Music" television channel and its history.
Another good book on the same topic is VJ about the original VJs on MTV....
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up on MTV, and it's very hard to reconcile the MTV I knew and loved with what it is today. This book covers the best years, 1984-1992, and is a great read for fans of Music Television as it used to be.

Some of my favorite facts and quotes:

- The iconic Ford hot rod coupe from ZZ Top's "Eliminator" album (and various of their eighties videos featuring girls with legs who know how to use them) was only used so it could be written off as a tax deduction. Billy Gibbons bought the car originally
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This disappointing book is merely a bunch of pasted-together quotes from different people involved with the history of the first decade of MTV. There is no narrative and the "authors" write only small introductions to chapters filled with quotes, most of which say little. Their book introduction is also poorly written and at times makes no sense.

The main problem is that the format of the book is all wrong--instead of assembling a narrative from the over 400 people they talked with, they just str
Dan Phillips
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
As someone who was just hitting puberty when MTV was born, I Want My MTV was a walk down memory lane, bolstered by behind-the-scenes insight into how it all stayed afloat. (The answer, for the first two or three years at least, is "barely.") How did they get Bowie to in their early ads? How did they come up with their logo? How did they convince record labels to give them their content for free? Where'd they get that first generation of hosts ("VJ's")?

And that's just the beginning chapters. Onc
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Over 400 interviews with directors, executives, producers, artist, VJs, and anyone else associated with the industry combine for this oral history of MTV from its beginnings in ‘81 to the end of the music video era in ’92.

It’s a book full of anecdotes that quickly becomes a one trick pony. I don’t think it’s the authors fault necessarily, but there is only so many stories about sex, drugs, and pretentious people you can read before becoming bored. Some of the stories are interesti
Unfortunately, according to this book, MTV was totally over by 1992. I guess by the time I really got into it in 1993, I wasn't watching anything cool, I was just a big loser. It's nice that David Fincher gets a lot of play here, but it is absolutely criminal that Mark Romanek only gets mentioned twice. In my opinion, he's a much better video director and I honestly think that his Never Let Me Go could totally give anything by Fincher (except Seven) a run for its money. There is some downright h ...more
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smutty and delicious. This book, an oral history of MTV's so-called "glory years" of the 80s and early 90s, was 600 or so pages of absolute and utter TRASH. And I loved every last filthy word! If you want to know which rockers wore wigs or who among the extinct species of MTV veejays was the most hated by their peers (hint: "Wubba, wubba"), this book is for you. Sure, there's plenty included about the business of MTV, and how the network evolved into the Jersey Shore marathon it has now become - ...more
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So my reading of this oral history I think mirrored what MTV was to me and to many people of my age. When I started I Want My MTV, I was also reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me and Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction, two extremely serious and timely books that are pretty much the definition of un-fun. I wouldn't necessarily call reading them a chore, but they put you in a pretty specific headspace that is pretty much the polar opposite of I Want My MTV. So of course, once I ...more
Freesiab (Bookish Review)
I was really bummed about this book. It was really good but after a while there were too many blurbs and it was too long. Total bummer because it was really interesting on the whole.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to imagine anybody who came of age in the 80s and who loves pop culture not being gaga for this book, which although simple, is one of the most thoroughly engaging reads I've come across in quite some time.

The structure is simple. Marks and Tannenbaum take a more or less chronological approach approach to their oral history. Each chapter starts with something of an introductory essay and then is followed by pages of cannily sequenced quotes which allow the chapter to tell the story of
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the spirit of High Fidelity, Top Five interview statements from this fantastic oral history of that big part of my childhood, MTV.

1. Dee is just so ugly. It's like God made the ugliest guy in the world, and then He hit him in the face with a shovel -- Mark Metcalf (128)

Mark Metcalf is better known as Neidermeyer, and comes off in this text as a world class prick. But you can't argue with the campy genius of Twisted Sister videos. In my classroom, on the right day, if I close my eyes I can hea
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Naturally, being a music fanatic who came of age during MTV's heyday, I was going to like reading about how MTV came into being, the antics of the VJs [both on and off the air], infamous videos that caused a stir, but like a lot of massive, oral histories of this ilk, it's actually kind of hit and miss regarding what has made it into the "story" of MTV. The stuff I cared about--bands, musical genres--I liked, but reading about the behind the scenes business people and programmers? Not so much.

Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When MTV really became big in the NY area in 1982, during my junior year of college, I remember spending every free minute in front of the TV screen, gorging on music videos. The impact was huge: the first Madonna videos, "Thriller," The Police, Tom Petty...the list goes on and on. If a group came on you didn't like (for me, anything heavy metal), waiting a few minutes brought renewed happiness.

So reading this book, which is really just an extended series of interviews with some of those involve
Dec 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pop culture fans, film nerds, folks who spent a lot of time on a couch in the 80s and 90s
Insanely readable, fast-paced oral history of the first decade or so of MTV. For a channel slagged for valuing style over substance, the book's brief chapters and soundbyte-style quotes (except from the mighty John Landis, whose raconteur-ship cries out for a book of its own, or at the very least and anecdote-off with Peter Bogdanovich) are a clever conceptual structuring tactic mirroring the nature of the channel itself--it's simultaneously packed with information, but info that breezes by at a ...more
The popular music of my lifetime is divided, in my mind, between “before MTV” and “after MTV.” I first saw Music Television in the fall of 1982--my boyfriend’s family had cable--and was fascinated by the channel and the new music it showcased. I lost track of it for a few years--the boyfriend became a husband, we became parents, and we didn’t have cable--and when I caught back up with it again, we had both changed. MTV came to define the 1980s...but in reading about its first decade in the oral ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, music, 2014
The book is enjoyable, though long, and I keep getting lost in terms of who is speaking and what his/her role is--there are a ton of interviewees, and while the glossary at the back of the book is helpful in placing most of them, it sucks to have to keep flipping back to it (and I’ve found at least one person who doesn’t appear on the list).
I am much less interested in the business/personnel history of MTV than I am in the music. As such, the interviews with/about the artists were far more inter
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came of age in the era of MTV's ascention into pop culture dominance, so almost all of the material in this book was familiar to me. It was fun to be able to hear these songs echoing in the far recesses of my brain while reading about the making of the videos, and for the most part I could recall a lot of the imagery from the videos themselves as they popped up in these chapters.

While MTV is currently a black hole in my cable lineup that I haven't purposefully tuned into for years, I do fondl
A giant book filled with mostly interviews. The book is very choppy and disjointed. Each chapter focuses on some theme and pull together quotes from interviews to help explore the topic. Some of the transitions in the quotes are awkward. As much as the method of story-telling annoyed me (some bridges, please, even MTV had VJs to tie everything together), it matched the culture and mindset of early MTV. MTV pioneered the jump cut and programming for short attention spans, so the style of the book ...more
Angie Six
For a child of the 80s, this book was a fantastic trip down nostalgia lane. I was a 6 year old in Fort Wayne, Indiana when MTV first appeared on our TV. What was a 6 year old doing watching MTV? Well, when you have a 17-year-old brother and parents that don’t have a clue what happens on 24-hour music television, you get to watch a lot of MTV. I fell in love with those early VJs the way other kids fell in love with the characters on Sesame Street. The authors take you from the early days of MTV’s ...more
Bob Brooks
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
This book could have been written in two different ways. The first way,which the authors did not use, would have been more of a summary of the history of MTV with random quotes throughout the narrative. The second way, having an introduction to each chapter and then using quotes from different people referring to the issues pertaining to the introduction for that chapter gave me the sense of a roundtable discussion with each person weighing in their opinions or remembrances as the story unfolded ...more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good look at behind the scenes of what was once a great music channel. This covered the beginning of the channel up until "Real World" premiered, introducing the world to the horror that is reality TV.

Learned some interesting stuff, including some real laugh out loud things that had me scratching my head. And of course, lots of conflicting reports from people, but that's par for the course.

My main complaint with the book is that when they introduced a new speaker, they put his/her title after
Lee Anne
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, an oral history similar to Live From New York: An Uncensored History of "Saturday Night Live" by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, covers the origin and glory years of MTV, from 1981 to the early 90s. It is a fantastic, gossipy read, and I couldn't put it down. There are funny stories, and catty ones, and occasionally conflicting accounts of the same incident. It reminded me of many, many videos of my youth (when my parents' rural cable system didn't even get MTV until well after I' ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
As part of the MTV generation, this book had a lot of nostalgia for me. I can tell you where I was when I first saw Home Sweet Home. I know a large part of my deep ongoing love for Bruce Springsteen is because of his Born In The USA videos. And yes, I know the Thriller dance, and how to Walk Like and Egyptian.

While I appreciated the book, I didn't love the format. Bringing in so many interviews and commentary made for a choppy narrative. It would have worked on air, but in the book, it was easy
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
This is an "oral history" book very much like the seminal Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Music, or the more recent Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Marks and Tannenbaum interviewed hundreds of personalities, executives, and talent involved with the golden age (1981 to 1992) of MTV. The results are engrossing, especially if you remember the channel from its' music-playing heyday.

One of the book's virtues is that it doesn't seek out many of the
Joni Daniels
Chalk it up to a guilty pleasure - I remember when MTV went on the air so this history of the first 10 years of the channel was intersting becasue it is part of my own history. The subtitle is 'uncensored' but it's also poorly written with no sign of an editor (at 574 pages - not including the 20 additional pages giving you the 'cast of characters'.). While it's intersting to read about the different views of the same situation and the 'behind-the-scenes' version of what viewers saw on screen - ...more
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable in the beginning, but could be hit-and-miss. Some chapters were very interesting and a fun read. Others were very dry and boring, usually the ones talking about producers and the business aspect. I honestly have at least skimmed or skipped entire chapters based on what they were about.

As it went on further it became more less enjoyable. Perhaps it's because I didn't watch MTV during those years and it didn't hold my interest.

All in all the chapters are either excellent or boring.
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“my management partner, Simon Napier-Bell, was more camp than a row of tents.” 0 likes
“The people that look after the elephants were completely smashed. They drink this stuff called arrack. For “Save a Prayer,” John and I were on an elephant, Simon was on one with Andy, and Roger was on one of his own. And they brought a female elephant who let out this enormous noise, which one of the guys in the crew was taping. He thought, Oh, this will be funny, and he played it back through the speakers. Nobody knew that it was her mating call. So the elephant with Roger on its back charges down the swamp and mounts this other elephant. Roger’s hanging on for dear life, and all of the mahouts are rolling around, thinking it’s hilarious. If he’d fallen off, he could have been trampled to death.” 0 likes
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