Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music and American Television

Here is a live performance of "When the Roses Bloom Again" by Laura Cantrell, who seems to have been born to sing this song (and others besides):



This performance appears to have been broadcast on BBC TV, which makes it yet another instance in which interesting music shows up on British, rather than American, TV -- and in this case, it's difficult to imagine how this music could be more American: the performer is American, the song was originally written by American A.P. Carter, its lyrical referent is the American Civil War.

Though I've not carried out the requisite sociological research, I believe I am on firm footing when I say the United States has numerous music fans, and of these, many who watch television. So where the hell is interesting music on American television?

Well, we have MTV, right? MTV! Music TeleVision! Below are tonight's listings on MTV as screen-scraped from the local cable monopoly's online TV listings page (click images to enlarge). I have no idea what these programs are about, but a glance at their descriptions reveals no discernible relationship with music. They seem to be something more in the "reality TV" category, or the "situation comedy (comedy conspiciously omitted)" category, or who-the-hell-cares. Maybe they're game shows? Shows centered on footage of car chases? On footage of the physical arrests of trailer trash and/or racial minorities? I keep suggesting possibilities as though I wish to find out, when in fact I do not.


I grant I have not fully canvassed the issues raised here -- Laura Cantrell, being a country-ish performer, is unlikely to appear on even a hypothetical version of MTV that concerned itself with music-oriented television; there is such a thing as a Country Music channel (CMT) that may, indeed, produce and broadcast music-oriented programming; perhaps there is another bona-fide music-oriented channel of which I am unaware (VH1?); it may be that my one-night sampling of MTV's programming is an exception to a music-rich-programming rule.

I doubt all of the above, especially the latter, but since I have long since fallen out of the habit of even remembering the existence of MTV, I can't speak with any confidence about the general nature of its programming.

I want my M TV; MTV can go hang.

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