From 1986 to 2013, people interested in getting their alternative music video fix turned to MTV’s 120 Minutes. As advertised, 120 Minutes was a two hour block filled with interviews and videos from artists not normally featured on the channel like They Might Be Giants, The New Pornographers, and Archers Of Loaf in video from break out luminaries like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, and Chris Cunningham. Even when MTV veered away from playing music videos entirely, this small bastion of the new and alternative soldiered on—eventually venturing to MTV2, where it was rebranded as Subterranean and eventually ended in 2013. Luckily, this being the Internet, there is work being done to preserve this legacy.
Independent Internet archivist Tylerc is assembling an archive of the show’s entire run, going through each episode and noting the host, the special guests, and the entire playlist, complete with Youtube links for each of the songs featured. In addition to the playlists and video records, Tylerc also includes an overview of the series, special videos dedicated to the last show, and information about the different hosts. It’s interesting to see how the vibe changed with each new passing fad in music, and how far the “alternative” label could be stretched over 27 years. Below is the earliest video in the archive, from April 27, 1986, for Lou Reed’s “No Money Down:”