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Metal Mortality Mindfreak: Watch MTV’s Year In Review From 1991 Report

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Not one day of the 21st century has passed without someone bitching about MTV. The complaint is that it once was a basic-cable phenomenon, a star maker, a news source, the brash adolescent who brought to heel an old man industry. For those first decades, MTV’s thing wasn’t original content; it was music video programming and a great news desk that helped drive social action campaigns. We loved it!

So we expected more happiness and less foreboding this week when we encountered an MTV “year in review” special from 1991 (below, via The AV Club). Hosted by fancy journalists Kurt Loder and Tabitha Soren, The Year In Rock covered the year’s breakthrough bands, trends in popular cinema, and real news stories — and its entire 49 minutes seem really robust. Like, you might remember being grossed out by the serious side of MTV back then, but it works here in 2016. Even Loder now seems less pissy than incredulous.

But the prescient tone of MTV News is not the biggest reason that The Year In Rock is freaky in 2016: The news itself is huge and fucknuts. 1991 was the first time, Loder and Soren report, that rap was all over sales charts. The first time that young black men made hit movies about poverty and violence. The first time Nirvana was on every radar (but not the G word). The first rap-metal song and first metal song by a rapper. The first time sports fans got to know HIV. The first Lollapalooza. The first encounters with game-changers like Garth Brooks, “Enter Sandman,” N.W.A, Soundscan, Mark Wahlberg, and Seal. Crazy!

Madonna, R.E.M., and Guns N’ Roses each earn a long segment, but elsewhere metal gets screen time every other minute: interview bites from (non-frontmen!!) members of Queensryche, Anthrax, and Poison; opinions on politics and trends from Lars, James, and Mustaine; guys from Extreme horsing around, a choice David Lee Roth-ism, a classy tip of the cap to the Clash Of The Titans tour. You can tell MTV had a hundred interviews’ worth of clips to pull from cuz they covered metal all year.

You will feel nostalgia whether or not you were there. You’ll witness hubris by successful metal guys not long for that world. You’ll hear cute laments about the “not very good” health of the music industry (lol, wait ten years). You’ll sense the wave of fake self-hatred as it rises. You’ll feel pity for MTV’s audience whose first sexuality arrived during the era of huge, shapeless clothes. But more than anything, you know what came next. What’s your favorite clip?

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