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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Pop-Up Video!!!

One of things that I enjoy about writing this blog is the whole idea of everything old being new again. When I take something that hasn't been relevant for weeks, months, years, even decades, and look at it through a new perspective, and offer up some new discussions on pop culture fads gone by.

Today is of course, no exception.

Today's topic (and life lesson, for that matter) is that everything old can in fact be new again. Certainly with shows such as Storage Wars, Hardcore Pawn, and other related television programs, everything old is now suddenly back in style.

And today's blog subject is about a VH1 program that used to air for about six years, went away for a while, and on October 3, 2011, popped back up into relevance again.

A show that I used to watch for years when I was in high school, and probably was one of the main influences behind the creation of this blog.

What show am I talking about?

That's right! It's time for some Pop-Up Video!

The show was created by Tad Low and Woody Thompson, and premiered on VH1 on October 27, 1996. It was produced by Spin The Bottle Inc, and the first run of the program ran until the summer of 2002.

That's right. I said, first run. Because beginning on October 3 of this year, Pop-Up Video was resurrected from the ashes of pop culture trends gone by and it is said that the new videos are supposed to be debuting on MuchMoreMusic here in Canada (if it hasn't by now already).

The show's creation came about after both Low and Thompson found themselves out of a job in late 1994. Prior to 1994, Low and Thompson worked together on the late Brandon Tartikoff's late night talk show Last Call, but that year, the plug was pulled, and the two men spent the next couple of years working on ideas for new television shows to pitch to various networks.

The idea for Pop-Up Video came about in the last few months of 1995. The basic concept of what would become Pop-Up Video was presented to VH1 executives along with other similar themed variants which presented a whole new viewing experience for music videos.

The pilot episode only cost about $3000 to make, and the very first Pop-Up Video to air on VH1 was Tina Turner's 1996 cover version of John Waite's 'Missing You'. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find this video anywhere online to post here, but don't worry. I'll post some more examples as we continue.

At any rate, the VH1 executives were very impressed by the show, greenlighted it, and by the end of 1996 was VH1's highest rated program for two whole years.

How does a video become a Pop-Up Video? It takes a crack staff of researchers and writers, first of all. With each show containing an average of five music videos per show, one staff member was assigned to a particular video so that they could research it as much as possible. Each video would have a pop-up bubble that featured a piece of information. The logos seen below would be attached to the bubbles to let the viewer know what the subject of the pop-up bubble would be about.

Most of the pop-ups would feature some background information on the videos and artists themselves...

...but there are some other references as well. Sometimes, they offered trivia on movies and television shows.

Quite frequently, the pop-ups would contain some never known facts.

And in almost all the pop-up videos, there would be a lot of poking fun, quite often at the performer's expense.

Sometimes, the staff would even get full participation from the crew involved with making the music videos. Directors, choreographers, set designers, promoters. They all gave interviews with the staff of Pop-Up Video, giving the viewer an inside look behind what went on, confirming or denying diva behaviour. In rare cases, the artist themselves would appear in Pop-Up bubbles to talk about the video, such as in the case of Paula Abdul when she starred in a couple of bubbles during the 'Promise Of A New Day' Pop-Up Video.

When you put the icons and the bubbles and the research and the interviews and the lovely popping sound all together, you get something like this.

And that's how you create a Pop-Up Video. Pretty cool, huh?

(Oh, and a very happy belated birthday to Malin Berggren from Ace of Base, too!)

When Pop-Up Video first premiered in 1996, the earliest episodes were centered around a particular theme. In some cases, the episodes centered around a particular artist. Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, and several others had their own Pop-Up Video episodes, and if you click on the links of each artist in this paragraph, I've provided examples for each one.

Sometimes, the episodes would have a distinct theme. For Women First, all the episodes would have videos by female artists. For the Big 80s, all the videos would be videos that were released after 1979 but before 1990.

In March of 1998, VH1 hosted a special week of 1980s programming, and for one week only Pop-Up Video became Pop-Up '80s. Those episodes would have additional clips of 1980s events that were popped in between videos, such as the 1981 wedding of Charles and Diana, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The Pop-Up Video craze exploded between 1996 and 1999, with several television show episodes and television special airing pop-up bubbles throughout the duration of the show. Examples include the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and in 2001, Nick At Nite popped several episodes of The Brady Bunch, in an event called Pop-Up Brady.

The show hasn't gone without controversy though. Some music videos were pulled...a process that became known as 'The Pops They Stopped', as some artists complained that they were being treated too harshly by the show, and were portrayed in a negative light. Some of the videos that were stopped were by the Wallflowers, The Police, and Billy Joel. And controversy arose when the video for Ben Folds Five's single 'Brick' was released. The song, which is about a young couple who tries to decide on whether to have an abortion or not featured a pop up of a wire coat hanger appearing to 'abort' one of the band members.

I can see how that might inspire an outcry.

By 2002, the Pop-Up Video well had apparently run dry, and the show last aired on VH1 on August 8, 2002.

But as I said before, everything old is new again, and now we can see pop-up videos by artists such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and Britney Spears. Who knows, with the way the music industry is these days, maybe Pop-Ups can make those videos better.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that show because it was before the Internet and Wikipedia! Now we can just find that info with a blink of the eye, back then that info was gold!