Chrome Magazine

First person Uttsada Panichkul

THE YEAR 1981 will go down in the annals of music history as the year when MTV was first broadcated to the world. It kicked off with 'Video Killed the Radio Star' byThe Buggles and with that, the musical landscape was changed forever.

Young people loved the music channel for its ground-breaking bravado and its hip-ness. Overnight, the way music videos wwere made, and how music was marketed, chaged -- they had to be showier, laden with special effects, and had elaborate story lines all packed into a neat four minutes. In short, videos pretty much became mini-movies in their won right, because, you know, theey had to be if they wanted to be on MTV. Musical artistes, from boy bands to metal bands, had to present a better image of themselves because the way they looked in their videos would influence how much airt playy they would get oon MTV, and hernce, their success. Yes, music was finally visualised, and MTV was right smack in the forefront.

It also revolutionised the way music was presented: Readio used faceless DJs, but that wouldn't do for MTV. The DJs who would present the music videos had to be good-looking, energetic, and knowledgeable. The new breed of presenters would be called the Video Jock or VJ -- a term that would become as common asDJ. But from the moment they first appeard on TV, MTV VJs--harsh crittics called them "Empty-V VJs"-- were destined to become bigger than DJs. They would become instant pop culture iccons. Apart from introducing music videos, VJs were expected to be more than TV show hosts; they had to be tndsetters with hip, cool, and irreverent personalities-- in short, full-fledged superstars.

It goes without saying that MTV Asia wields the same power and influence to turn their VJs into overnight, swwon-worthy celebs. When I told some colleaguesat twork that I was flying to Bangkok to hang out with Utt, the MTV VJ with the teen idol good looks, the girls started to screeam and hyper-ventilate. They grasped in envy, acting like a pack of wild animals in heat. This, I imaginge, is the power celebrities wield ovet those who aren't. No wonder everyone wants to be on TV these days.


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October 2005