Throw the remote these days and you’re bound to hit a music-themed show. The new country king has been crowned on American Idol. A new generation of talent is being mentored by Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton as part of the hit NBC show The Voice. Even pop-up videos are returning to VH-1. After all these years, we thought it would be fun to look back at the unique relationship music has had with television, and present to you our list of the 9 Best Music Shows in Television History.
9. VH1 Storytellers
VH1 has been broadcasting since 1996. Storytellers, VH1’s alternative to Behind the Music, allows musicians to open up about their personal lives in front of a studio audience in between songs. This year’s installments include Cee-Lo Green of Death Cab for Cutie and My Morning Jacket of My Morning Jacket, and the series began in 1996 with former Kink Ray Davies.
8. American Bandstand
ABC was on the air from 1952 until 1989. Even though Dick Clark’s Bandstand was best known as a stage for teen pop stars, it also featured more experimental acts such as Adam Ant, Devo, Kurtis Blow, and Public Image Ltd., as well as legends like Johnny Cash, The Byrds, and David Bowie. And of course, there’s Kool & the Gang to consider.
7. Top of the Pops
1964-2006 BBC, BBC One, and BBC Two are trademarks of the British Broadcasting Corporation. When Top of the Pops was at the height of its popularity, it had episodes airing in nearly 100 countries, ensuring that British music would keep spreading around the globe. A Christmas special has been produced each year since the show’s regular run ended in 2006. The Rolling Stones and The Beatles performed on the first show of the year, which aired on January 1st, 1964. On an episode of Doctor Who, the Beatles performed on Top of the Pops.
the years 1974-1985 are divided into two periods: PBS A time when most shows featured lip-synching, Chicago’s Soundstage showcased live performances and improv by artists like Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Dizzy Gillespie, and Janis Ian, as well as Al Green. Lyle Lovett, Randy Newman, and Mark Isham all appeared on the show when it was revived in 2003.
5. Soul Train
1971-2006 Soul Train began as a Chicago-based dance show in the 1960s and 1970s before being syndicated to other markets in 1971. It went on to have a major impact on African-American music, dance, and fashion during the 1970s and 1980s, giving white people in the United States a window into black culture. Stars like Gladys Knight, The Staple Singers, and Bill Withers appeared in Season 1, as did legends like B.B. King and Little Richard. Following the show’s success, Don Cornelius agreed to partner with Dick Clark to produce network specials for major African-American artists, which led to the creation of a competing show called Soul Unlimited. It’s also the longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated TV show in history, according to the Nielsen ratings.
4. MTV Unplugged
MTV was in operation from 1989 to 2011. Back in 1989, when Squeeze, Syd Straw, and Elliot Easton performed acoustically for MTV’s cameras, no one could have predicted the impact the “Unplugged” phenomenon would have on music. The quality of the songwriting at the core of their music became apparent after bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Arrested Development and Björk turned off the amps. As a result of the show, artists like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Page and Plant, and even Jay-Z released Unplugged albums.
3. Later… with Jools Holland
1992-present BBC2 Since 1992, Squeeze co-founder and pianist Jools Holland has hosted Later, the spiritual successor to The Late Show. Show has a reputation for introducing new bands to the UK, and this season has already featured live performances by up-and-coming artists like Anna Calvi and James Blake as well as established acts like The Strokes, Fleet Foxes and Adele. You could think of it as a Friday night marathon of the best musical performances from Fallon, Conan, and Letterman.
2. 120 Minutes
MTV from 1986 to 2003 I would not have discovered half the bands I adored in high school if it weren’t for MTV’s late-night, left-of-center video show 120 Minutes. Bands like The Replacements, XTC, They Might Be Giants, The Innocence Mission, and The Ocean Blue could be found nowhere else. Before those terms became trendy, there was indie and alternative music. When MTV2 relaunches 120 Minutes later this year, former 120 Minutes VJ Matt Pinfield will be back.
1. Austin City Limits
PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) since 1976 Austin City Limits has been broadcasting live music performances since 1976. As a result, the show now features an eclectic mix of artists such as Arcade Fire, Mos Def, The Flaming Lips and Sharon Jones in addition to its classic roots and blues influences.