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Image Entertainment presents

MTV 20 Collection (2001)

"Even rock music, when it's actually at its most powerful, is pop. Think of "My Generation" by The Who or the best of The Rolling Stones work or The Beatles work. It's definitely something on top of just being a great tune."- The Edge (of U2)

Stars: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Run DMC, Aerosmith, De La Soul, Elvis Costello
Other Stars: K-ci and JoJo, Moby, Jungle Brothers, Lionel Ritchie, Blink 182, Eric B. & Rakim
Director: various

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some images are not suitable for young children)
Run Time: 04h:14m:27s
Release Date: 2001-07-10
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-B-B+ C


DVD Review

MTV originated 20 years ago as a small cable network with the novel concept of showing only music videos. Throughout the 1980s, its popularity continued to rise, and the channel gained considerable clout within the music industry. The past decade saw MTV moving sharply away from its initial concept and expanding into other avenues with shows like The Real World, Daria, and Celebrity Deathmatch. Music videos became rare and usually sprung from such chart-topping shows as TRL. With the release of MTV 20, the network returns to its roots and offers a four-disc collection of music videos from a wide array of genres and time periods. However, the selection is riddled with glaring omissions and dull inclusions that lead to a mixed bag of equally impressive and disastrous entries.

This collection is divided per disc into four categories: Rock, Pop, Jams, and Beats. The final disc is a "Bonus Disc" with only a short group of songs included. This type of categorizing immediately raises problems due to the difficulty in placing songs into specific genres. Why is Blues Traveler's Runaround a rock song while Chumbawamba's Tubthumping is a pop song? In another instance, Jodeci's Forever My Lady exists on the jams disc, while K-Ci and Jo Jo's All My Life comes on the pop one. While this is only a minor issue, it exemplifies the troubles inherent with a supposedly definitive collection of this type. That said, there's plenty to like with many of these videos. It surprised me to see some fun, less-appreciated gems mixed in with the dull hits. While often enjoyable, however, I have some significant squabbles with MTV's choices.

While it's difficult to decide on the best disc in this set, it's not too tough to choose the worst one: it's easily the rock disc. It begins with Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love—a tedious, overplayed song that earned interest more for the background girls in the video than for the actual music. Along the way, there are popular throwaway hits like Jesus Jones' Right Here, Right Now, Aerosmith's Livin' on the Edge, Everclear's Santa Monica, and Monster Magnet's Spaceland. The least understandable inclusion, however, is Goldfinger's Here in Your Bedroom; this track is a terrible representative of the pop-ish ska/punk genre that arose in the late 1990s, and the video is fairly simple and uninteresting. Much better is the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' The Impression That I Get—a catchy, horn-filled song that brought these guys the acclaim they've long deserved. Placed back-to-back, these videos showcase the wide gap between the effectiveness of two popular songs within a similar genre.

All is not lost on this disc, however. Several videos stand out as creative, fun entries, definitely worthy of a best-of compilation. Higher Ground—the Red Hot Chili Peppers' raucous cover of the 1973 Stevie Wonder classic- jumps from the screen with the impressive effect of the band playing over black-and-white stock footage from major historical events. This video also contains some silliness with a large crowd jumping up and down to the quick beat. Another gem is Primus' Wynonna's Big Brown Beaver, an innovative video with silly plastic cowboys standing in for the band. Mixed in with some odd animation and a bouncing ball over the words to the refrain, this is a great inclusion. Although I don't care much for the song, Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun is notable for containing some of the craziest imagery in any major music video.

Next, there's the pop disc, which contains possibly the oddest collection of music videos of any of the genres. It spends a good deal of time with the early 1980s, throws in one from 1990, than jumps to 1997. Were there any noteworthy pop videos released in this seven-year period? I think so. MTV deserves major kudos for including two gems from its early years: Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long and Elvis Costello's Everyday I Write the Book. The first one is totally cheesy, with pastel colors, leather pants, ridiculous hairstyles and outfits, as well as breakdancing. However, it features a silly and enjoyable tone that's engaging and nearly impossible to criticize. The second song is a true pop gem written by one of the great songwriters of the past 25 years. This is also a silly video, with the band looking dated and laugh-inducing. In terms of the newer tracks, the highlight is K-ci and JoJo's All My Life, a sweet, emotional track that showcases both of their amazing vocal abilities.

Unfortunately, this video collection also includes its share of clunkers that caused me to scratch my head with confusion. First of all, there's Cars, a Gary Numan track from the early '80s that appears totally outdated and dull. While this song often appears on retro radio stations, it is far from a pop masterpiece. Also troubling is Aqua's Barbie Girl, which takes the gimmick of the Barbie toy and creates an odd, silly song. Is this a pop staple that deserves inclusion over virtually any tune by Michael Jackson or Madonna? Pop is such a wide category that it's impossible to feature all of the major artists within only 15 songs. Even given these limitations, it's still amazing that some of our most accomplished pop singers aren't here.

Next, there's the beats disc, a small selection of rap and electronic tunes that includes some of the most impressive videos in this release. One highlight is Setting Sun, a frenetic, fast-paced song by the Chemical Brothers with plenty of interesting imagery and camera work. Also noteworthy is the inclusion of Fluke's Atom Bomb, which is surprising, due to the lack of popularity for this band. This song features a video-game style with crazy animation and science-fiction visuals. Moby's Body Rock provides some good laughs with a spoof of auditions for the video. Plenty of silly guys dance around in front of a curtain, making fools of themselves. Finally, The Jungle Brothers' Get Down contains a fast-paced, catchy beat and a fun, energetic tone. This would easily be the premier disc in the collection, except for the fact that only six videos were included.

Arguably the best selection of videos, the jams disc contains a nice mix of memorable hip-hop entries and slow, melodic ballads. It begins with Walk This Way—the first major commercial collaboration between the rap and rock genres. Run DMC understood the allure of rock music and its place in the hip-hop world, and their video with Aerosmith was a defining moment. Next, there's Eric B. and Rakim performing a live version of Eric B. is President on Yo! MTV Raps. This is the type of interesting clip that should be included more often in this collection. Instead of playing it safe with the basic videos, more live performances would have enhanced the energy of this release. Other enjoyable hip-hop tracks inserted include De La Soul's fun Me, Myself and I and the rap/jazz fusion in Digable Planets' Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat). The only poor choice for me was Juvenile's Back That Thing Up—a party jam that features poor rapping and a simple refrain.

The R&B selections from this disc are uneven in terms of quality, but it's difficult to argue too much with the choices. While I'm not a major fan of R Kelly's Bump n' Grind or Montell Jordan's This is How We Do It, both videos generated significant popularity upon their release. One major high point is On & On from the extremely talented vocalist, Erykah Badu. This track showcases her tremendous vocal range and lyrical creativity. The video presents a struggling housewife trying to take care of her children and the daily tasks on a farm in the vein of The Color Purple. Another highlight is the soulful, tender Forever My Lady by Jodeci—an impressive group who later split and became K-ci and JoJo. Other impressive ballads include Deborah Cox's Sentimental and Monica's Angel of Mine.

The MTV 20 Collection contains a series of interview clips between tracks that briefly describe the band or their music. At other times, silly commercial bumpers are inserted from various MTV eras. My favorite probably is the logo stalking through a miniature town in Godzilla mode. Sadly, the problem with all these inclusions is that they don't go far enough. Considering the wealth of material available to MTV in their library, it's amazing that more in-depth interviews and background aren't featured. This sums up the entire collection, an odd mixture of memorable videos and dull, overplayed tunes. Far from a definitive collection, this release generates some interest and enjoyment, but could have been much better.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

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 One Two
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame 1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes yes
Anamorphicno yes

Image Transfer Review: The MTV 20 Collection contains a mix of full-screen and widescreen videos that vary significantly in picture quality. A majority of them come in the 1.33:1 format, and the overall transfer is fairly mediocre. Certain entries don't appear much better than they looked originally on television. While there are obvious limitations on the original source material, especially for the older videos, this result is still disappointing. The newer, often-widescreen selections look better, but there's still a lack of sharpness inherent on DVD transfers. There are no major defects, but the level of grain is a bit high and lessens the clarity of the picture.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This collection features an impressive 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that exudes plenty of power. While the level of depth is not amazing, it still brings together the force of the tracks and presents them fully. The surrounds are used decently, and the effect is impressive throughout the four discs. There's also a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track that falls considerably short of its counterpart. Even without the complexity, however, it also includes a considerable amount of energy.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Music/Song Access with 51 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Artist biographies and discographies
  2. In Addition option of additional information appearing on screen during the video
Extras Review: The extra features on the MTV 20 Collection are fairly limited and fall considerably short of the possibilities of this type of DVD release. Each disc contains brief biographies and the basic discographies for each artist included. While a few of them receive several pages, most of the information doesn't move beyond the basic material about their careers.

The other significant bonus, labeled In Addition . . . Fast Facts and Short Stats, triggers the option of additional items appearing on screen during the video. Similar to the pop-up videos on VH1 but on a much-smaller scale, these tidbits cover the usual stuff about chart rankings and release dates, but also provide some interesting material. For instance, Primus' original band name was Primate, and Virgin Megastores pulled Chumbawamba's album when a band member suggested that fans steal the album from chain stores. This option is not included on the beats disc.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

How did they include Goldfinger and Monster Magnet instead of Nirvana? Why was Juvenile featured instead of Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, or numerous others? These questions are difficult to ignore when viewing the MTV 20 Collection. Although it's far from perfect, this four-disc set does provide numerous hours of entertainment (and discussion) for music video lovers everywhere.

Dan Heaton 2001-08-15