Remember VJs? Look back at 40 years of MTV

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Updated 2056 GMT (0456 HKT) September 11, 2021

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

MTV archetypal planted its emblem successful popular civilization with its debut connected August 1, 1981. Yes, those of america who grew up watching MTV for hours, waiting for our favourite videos to play, the MTV Generation is present solidly mediate age. Here's a look backmost astatine immoderate memorable moments from the network's (and our) youth.


Turns retired video didn't truly termination the vigor star, but a opus with that rubric by The Buggles was the archetypal video ever played connected MTV. Super clever.


They went from comparative unknowns to the faces we each came to recognize. Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, Marha Quinn and J.J. Jackson were the Fab Five we rushed to crook connected the TV to watch.

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The King of Pop Michael Jackson gave america 1 of the astir cinematic euphony videos ever with 1983's "Thriller." It besides helped interruption down radical barriers for MTV, which faced disapproval for a deficiency of diverseness among the artists featured connected aerial successful its aboriginal days.


Nothing says vintage MTV similar a bully '80s stone euphony video with large hairsbreadth and large guitar solos. Few did it amended than Van Halen -- and the precocious Eddie Van Halen connected guitar was magic. Frontman David Lee Roth hangs retired with MTV VJ Mark Goodman present successful 1983.

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The saccharine video dreams of the Eurythmics from British popular duo Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were captivating.


It's hard to judge Madonna was not yet a superstar erstwhile she appeared astatine her archetypal VMAs successful 1984. Her show of "Like A Virgin," implicit with a achromatic gown and immoderate rolling astir connected the stage, grabbed the world's attraction and Madonna has held it since.


Dig if you volition a picture. With his guitar playing, provocative lyrics and magnetic signifier presence, Prince rapidly became 1 of music's premiere stars, arsenic good arsenic an MTV favorite.


An iconic pistillate of stone with nary equal, Grace Jones broke each mold made with her bold creativity and talent. It was intolerable to crook distant from her artful videos, similar the 1 for her 1985 "Slave to the Rhythm."


In the aureate epoch of MTV, Downtown Julie Brown was each implicit the network. But her champion -- and astir amusive -- gig was hosting the deed euphony amusement Club MTV, which ran from 1987 until 1992.

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"Yo! MTV Raps" deed MTV successful 1988. It was the network's archetypal amusement dedicated wholly to rap and hip-hop music, wherever Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover and Doctor Dré each did hosting duties. Public Enemy appeared connected the amusement present successful 1991.

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The Peabody-winning Choose oregon Lose run was launched successful 1992. MTV encouraged its eligible viewers to vote, which successfully drove turnout among younger voters and educated the nationalist connected Bill Clinton's penchant for boxers oregon briefs.

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"This is the existent story, of 7 strangers, picked to unrecorded successful a house, enactment together, and person their lives taped. Find retired what happens, erstwhile radical halt being polite, and commencement getting real." With those words and the archetypal play of MTV's "The Real World" successful 1992, world TV arsenic we've travel to cognize it began. (Norman Korpi, Andre Comeau, Julie Oliver, Rebecca Blasband, Heather B., Eric Nies and Kevin Powell.)

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Kurt Cobain and his fuzzy cardigan forever. Nirvana's show connected "Unplugged" was recorded successful 1993 -- conscionable 5 months earlier Cobain's death. It was 1 of his past televised performances and it was beautiful.

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Before the fearfulness of Covid super-spreading events, MTV was known for its yearly outpouring interruption coverage. You'd get performances from apical artists and crowds of outpouring breakers doing what they bash best, partying connected the beaches of Cancun, Panama City and South Padre Island.

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"Total Request Live" premiered successful 1998, hosted by Carson Daly. The show, filmed unrecorded successful Times Square, featured the astir requested euphony videos of the day, unrecorded performances and many, galore screaming teens.

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Remember erstwhile Britney Spears, Madonna and Christina Aguilera opened the 2003 VMAs with a kiss? Yes, of people you do.

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Whitney Port, Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag and Audrina Patridge made "The Hills" of MTV travel live with a full batch of play and cut-from-context soundbites betwixt 2006-2010.

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That awkward infinitesimal erstwhile Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance code astatine the 2009 VMAs sparked years of societal media feuds and respective notable opus lyrics.

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Lady Gaga wore a formal made wholly of earthy nutrient to the 2010 VMAs to protestation the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" argumentation connected sexuality successful spot astatine the time. It was repealed the adjacent year.

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From 2009 - 2012, the formed of "The Jersey Shore" gave america barroom brawls, hairsbreadth gel and a beingness motto for the ages: Gym, tan, laundry.

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Leave it to Beyoncé to propulsion disconnected the eventual gestation announcement. Queen Bey took the VMA signifier successful 2011, turned retired an astonishing show of "Love On Top," past unbuttoned her purple sequin blazer to uncover a precise saccharine babe bump.

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Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus's 2013 VMA show is champion described arsenic problematic, but it's astir apt astir remembered for dancers dressed arsenic bears and a full batch of twerking.

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The incomparable Missy Elliott received The Video Vanguard Award astatine the 2019 VMAs and showed emotion for her "Moonman." The trophy's rubric was changed to a gender-free "Moon Person" successful 2017.

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Show maine MTV successful 2020 without saying it... Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga demonstrated still-in-style masks astatine their VMA show past year.

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