Solo Mode: MTV Unplugged – Classic Past, but Starburst Brings the Futile Future

Unplugged: the ways in which I loved thee are innumerable. When you left, you took a piece of me with you – not as much as when you cameoed on SNL, pulling the plug on A. Simps-now-but-not-then-Wentz, and took a piece (read: bulk) of her career – but still, there is a void.

You’ve returned! Oh, ah, wait – at least, I think that’s you…

I… can’t seem to make out the stage with all the neon logos, blonde hair, and white veneers in the way; and for the love of all that is acoustic please turn off your Starburst – please.

So… Unplugged returned – kind of

The new AdAge article explains the signature series’ revamp:

“The franchise has always been purely wonderful in that it shows musicians doing what they do best. So our thinking was, ‘Why not do it across different genres of music?'” said Van Toffler, president of MTVN’s Music, Films and Logo Group.

read: it was great and all before, and the franchise wasn’t broke – but we and the rest of the industry were – so … I mean what’s a lil’ duct tape among friends to fix it? #kanyeshrug

Each “Unplugged” performance will feature an unexpected cover song or other contradictory musical moment to sync up with Starburst’s tagline “It’s a juicy contradiction.” Starburst’s media agency, MediaVest, part of Publicis Groupe, helped create the sponsorship, which will last through August across eight episodes.

read: so when we say “courtesy of Starburst,” let it be known we are past the courting stage – they… hyphenated our last names, and said that if they even catch us looking at another advertiser they would cut us faster than Hoku from the TRL lineup (Ho-who? Exactly.) So we (read: they) wrote up a nice pre-nupt. After revolving the show around Starburst, we got Unplugged back! Okay, so it’s not the Unplugged you know, love, respect, or even accept – but we were two signatures away from it being called the “Starburst Sing-Along Hour,” so I’d say we broke even. Granted the original purpose of Unplugged was to reveal the core of the highlighted artist, we thought it would be funny (contractually obligatory) to have artists cover songs to which they have no affiliation whatsoever – great right! Right? (Fingers crossed for T. Swift’s acoustic “Imma Let You Finish” Medley remix of GoldDigger/Jesus Walks/Can’t Tell Me Nothing “T. Swift. Walks… God show me the way cuz Kan-ye’s tryna keep me down; T. Swift walk, with me, with me, with me” – eh, catchy enough: like Swine Flu.) “It’s a juicy contradiction,” … truer words: not oft spoken.

“Unplugged” has come a long way from its heyday as a place where artists as diverse as Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Nirvana, LL Cool J, and Jethro Tull could play electronic-free sets. It’s also become one of the most-copied musical franchises ever, kickstarting a trend followed by everyone from AOL (“Sessions at AOL”) to Clear Channel (“Stripped”) to iTunes (“iTunes Originals.”)

read: “come a long way from its heyday” doesn’t need to be read into – it’s a writer’s way of editorializing “Unplugged sucks; it didn’t used to, but obviously if its new sponsor is Starburst, it’s not unaware of its current relationship to sucking.”

Fare thee well old acoustic friend… a look back at your better days

^ I’m trying

two times

Since it’s not coming back anyway… might as well rundown a wishlist of “Woah, dream big!” Unplugged features: Kanye (yes, because Storytellers isn’t Unplugged), GaGa, Wale, Wayne, Winehouse, Madge, … okay basically just count my Dime A Dozen crew … Lupe, Jill Scott, Eminem, Luda, OutKast, Justice and Daft Punk (I know, but if they pulled it off), my list is pretty par for the course – and, yes, feel free to comment below with your own additions. Alas, every king must hang his crown eventually, and so we pull the plug, pack it up, and send yet another legendary series to the great “I Want My” in the sky where all MTV retirees go – off to join Daria, a trashy treasure trunk full of TRL videos, and the moniker-no-longer: “Music Television.” (read: if we stop calling ourselves Music Television maybe people will stop expecting us to play music on television, and then we can have more airtime for real stuff… like finding Paris a new BFF).

Re-Branded, or just brand-dead – my two cents falls heavily on the latter.

Watch This Space: MTV is almost 30, with crazy stunts like this – they’re one year away from rocking the Christian Audigier mid-lean against their gold Firebird in a high-school parking lot blasting “Nookie” in an effort to get some – relevance. Stick to what you know MTV – and, again, for the love of all that is acoustic and truly Pop: unless it’s this, I want less sticky and sweet, just gimme more simply sick beats. If video killed the radio star, Starburst blew their fuse – I guess that does make it Unplugged after all.

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