Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday: "AL-TV," Weird Al Yankovic's 1984 MTV Takeover


In 1984, my cable system got MTV for the first time. I watched a lot of MTV that summer, 30 years ago. A LOT. I probably memorized every video, every commercial, every MTV promo spot, every MTV VJ mannerism, every tagline. Everything.

So when "Weird Al" Yankovic -- then riding high on the success of his Michael Jackson parody "Eat It" -- occasionally took over MTV for the multiple hour parody stunt "AL-TV," I was entranced. Weird Al not only introduced videos, he would comment on them (and over them, in a few cases, like when he narrated Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire"). He tweaked MTV's marketing campaigns and contests. He made fun of "MTV News" and the stars it covered. He conducted fake interviews with the likes of Madonna. He aired parodies of commercials that aired over and over on MTV. He added sound effects to some videos. It was a fun, early stab at original programming on the channel.

"Weird Al" first did "AL-TV" on April Fool's Day 1984; it was such a hit that he came back to do it again that year on Labor Day weekend (and several times after that). It's now been 30 years. MTV has dramatically changed. But "Weird Al" has somehow managed to remain relevant, even scoring the week's No. 1 album release on the Billboard charts.

Below, watch young "Weird Al" take over the MTV signal for a few hours on Sept. 3, 1984. The music videos and commercials have mostly been scrubbed from this taping, but his parodies remain.

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