Twenty one years ago today, Unplugged aired its first-ever show featuring Squeeze. Only two years later, it had upgraded to Paul McCartney and earned brand-name recognition. Tracking the kind of artists that were deemed worthy to appear on Unplugged throughout the years presents an interesting picture of popular music in the 90s and 2000s, with its selection as curated as Saturday Night Live appearances, and maybe only a notch under an exclusive Rolling Stone cover. In 1995, Kiss played without makeup; Nirvana’s 1993 version was the first album released after Kurt Kobain’s death. Many artists actually went on to release albums of their Unplugged appearances and cement their status as the real thing — as SuChin Pak said in a MTV special on Unplugged: “It was the show that gave lip synching the finger.” Earlier today we wondered about its future, and now here are some of our favorite appearances, with the help of former Unplugged director Matt Mills. … Read More
As Justin Bieber unleashes his first acoustic album onto shoppers today, there’s a slightly more mature and pleasant milestone to celebrate in the world of stripped-down performances: Unplugged, MTV’s experiment in minimal concert performance programming, turns 21 today.
Originally turned down by MTV executives in 1989 who suggested that the concept be taken to PBS, the show has created some of the most epic and beloved music moments of the past two decades. In an age when the “M” in MTV has officially (officially!) lost all meaning, the Unplugged format is shockingly still alive, and actually gives that “M” its last remaining bit of dignity. … Read More