We kick off with an MTV promo, repeating from about three hours ago, for their show Now Hear This: MTV’s Guide to New Music. “On this week’s special year-end wrap-up,” Adam Curry says in voiceover as we see the members of R.E.M. doing their “Stand” jumps, “we’ll take a look back at world premieres, the best albums of ’88, and the new artists that we introduced to you.” We can only hope we get lots of quality time with Curry’s hair.
Oh, it’s The January Man again. For the first time, I notice a striking background detail: Kevin Kline’s character keeps a large blue-and-yellow macaw in his apartment. How did I not see that the first eight times this ad came up?
A classic MTV promo follows. It’s white capital letters on a black background, in the following sequence: “WORDS / THESE ARE WORDS / BLIND PEOPLE CAN’T SEE THEM / DEAF PEOPLE CAN’T HEAR THEM / FOREIGNERS DON’T NTEURSDNAD THEM.” (The nonsense word then rearranges itself into UNDERSTAND. There are various other clever tweaks of the basic white-on-black text in this sequence–the word SEE has a delayed entry in the BLIND PEOPLE line, for example–but detailing them all would get tedious.) “BUT YOU CAN / NOWADAYS, PEOPLE WHO MAKE TV / COMMERCIALS / USE WORDS JUST LIKE THESE / TO COMMUNICATE / A / MESSAGE / SO THAT THOSE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT / LISTEN / UNDERSTAND / THIS PRACTICE IS SUPPOSED TO BE / SIMPLE / AND / EFFECTIVE / THESE WORDS DON’T REALLY SAY ANYTHING / THEY COULD BUT THEY’RE NOT / THEY WANT TO BUT THEY CAN’T / SO, THEY WILL HANG OUT FOR FIFTEEN SECONDS / UNTIL IT’S TIME / FOR / ANOTHER / COMMERCIAL / THESE ARE WORDS / THAT COULD BE SAYING SOMETHING / FUNNY OR COOL OR INTERESTING / BUT THEY’RE NOT / THEY’RE JUST SITTING THERE / LIKE YOU / mtv.”
The “fifteen seconds” claim to the contrary, that spot takes a full minute. There’s some ethereal music behind it that sounds like synthesized medieval chanting. The whole thing is riveting. Of course, the words in question are funny and cool and interesting, which softens the criticism of the audience.
Some very familiar local spots: WWF Royal Rumble, Season’s Greetings from UA-Columbia Cablevision, and then, for the second time in this countdown, we see the tail end of the Freedom Rock ad. “Man, you should get Freedom Rock too!” says one of the hippies.
We close out with a repeat of the MTV promo spot touting their dedication to new music. Some of the acts being hyped here will chart on the countdown (Escape Club, Information Society); others will not (Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Living Colour, Siouxsie & the Banshees, White Lion). We see quick clips from all the videos, and so are reminded of how the New Bohemians had to play their instruments while sitting in toy cars. And what do Living Colour and Siouxsie have in common? Excess vowels!