Nostalgia-palooza: Paramount+ Is Rebooting Behind the Music, Yo! MTV Raps and Unplugged

Behind the Music (1997-2014); Yo! MTV Raps (1988-1995); MTV Unplugged (1989-present)
Behind the Music (1997-2014); Yo! MTV Raps (1988-1995); MTV Unplugged (1989-present)
Graphic: VH1, MTV

Remember when music videos used to play on television? Of course you do, because nostalgic internet users talk about it all the time, often with wistful sighs.

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Recently, a graphic floated around on Twitter showing the programming slate for MTV’s current television shows. Which show dominated damn near every damn broadcast time slot? Ridiculousness, a TV series showcasing “ridiculous” viral videos (usually stunt fails and mishaps) circulating on the internet.

It’s clearly a popular-ass show, but those of us who grew up in the peak MTV era always have to ask—what the fuck happened to the ‘M’ in MTV? (Editor’s note: *sighs wistfully*)

Well, it looks like there’s some journey toward back the channel’s music roots...as well as on its counterpart, VH1. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount+ (the legacy film studio’s streaming platform) will be reviving classics from the 1980s/1990s such as Behind the Music, Yo! MTV Raps and Unplugged (the latter of which, to my surprise, is still currently airing—K-Pop sensation BTS has an episode!). Hell, it looks like it’ll even be rebooting shows from the original reality show era, such as Road Rules, which will join the previously announced reunion special, The Real World Homecoming: New York.

THR breaks down the history behind all of these revived shows:

Behind the Music, which ran from 1997-2014, was once VH1's signature franchise. The new version will still feature deep-dive profiles of artists and bands (including remastered versions of prior installments) with an updated visual style.

Yo! MTV Raps was the first hip hop-focused show on MTV, running from 1988-95 with initial host Fab Five Freddy and later Doctor Dré and Ed Lover. Hosts for the new show haven’t been named yet.

Unplugged, featuring stripped-down performances by top artists, debuted on MTV in 1989 and has continued off and on into the present. The most recent edition, featuring K-Pop superstars BTS, aired on Tuesday.

Like its predecessor, which ran from 1995-2007, Road Rules will feature contestants traveling from place to place in an RV, with clues, odd jobs and money-earning missions guiding the way. The Challenge: All Stars will bring together 22 players from the original Real World and Road Rules for a chance to test their skills (and ability to form and keep relationships) and win $500,000.

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Apparently, this move is part of “a broader strategy at Paramount+ parent ViacomCBS to mine its IP library for updates of well-known titles.”

“We are thrilled to re-invent some of our most storied and impactful music franchises, including Behind the Music and Yo! MTV Raps, for Paramount+,” Bruce Gilmer, president of music, music talent, programming & events at ViacomCBS said in a statement.

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Of course, now I’m wondering what a current version of these nostalgic shows will look like, with a new generation of music artists? Will we get the actual deep-dive of the significance behind Bobby Shmurda’s cap in an episode of Behind the Music? Will Drake thoroughly explain why he has a heart etched in his haircut in an episode of Yo! MTV Raps? Will Chloe x Halle ride in on real-life unicorns while singing the acoustic versions of their songs on an episode of Unplugged?

I’m joking about all of those, by the way—OR AM I?! Find out next time on MTV and VH1...

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

DISCUSSION

emchammered
E=MC Hammered

I recorded Yo! almost every weekend between 1991 and 1994. Sometimes I recorded over previous episodes, so I didn’t have everything, but there are dozens of full VHS tapes at my parents’ house packed away in the garage somewhere.

A couple years ago I was home visiting and found a box of them and—fortunately my parents still have a VCR—I watched a few hours of old episodes and that shit was GOLDEN! The music videos themselves are all on Youtube, so that wasn’t a big deal, but the segments with Dre, Lover, and Freddy, especially when they’d interview someone else, were great. And the commercials were such a nostalgic throwback too.

Anyway, the highlight was what I assume may have been Outkast’s first nationwide TV appearance. It was an episode from late 1992 or early 1993 when “I Got a Man” was getting play and Positive K was the guest. As they were interviewing him, there were a few people lounging around the room they were in and he introduced a couple of guys sitting on the couch as something along the lines of “that’s my boys Dre and Big Boi from the group Outkast. We’re working on something that should be released soon that you’re going to like.” Neither Andre or Big Boi said anything, but it was crazy seeing them as 17 or 18 year olds who were in the background to Positive K (nothing against Pos K—and I will go to my grave maintaining that Carhoppers was better than I Got a Man and Nightshift was better than both).

There was also an interview with a really young Snoop, some post-EPMD breakup stuff with Eric Sermon, Redman, and Keith Murray where they just threw shade at Parrish nonstop, and a bunch of other gems. I wish I could digitize it to watch everything.