Music videos first burst into mainstream culture with the debut of Music Video Television in 1981, the first twenty-four-hour music channel on television. Since then, MTV has gone through many transformations, cycling through artists and icons, and exposing the world to Tila Tequila, Punk’d, and Pimp My Ride. Nowadays, music videos can sometimes be viewed on MTV in the wee hours of the morning, but they hardly look like the Pat Benatar and Rod Stewart videos of of the 80s (though somewhat more akin to 1995’s Scream, the most expensive music video made to date).
That’s where JuiceVCR comes in. A new website devoted to showcasing “the latest music videos and visuals from DIY + independent artists,” it plays the music you can no longer find on MTV. The site, or “Audio-Visual Channel” as they refer to themselves, is a twenty-four-hour, human-curated music channel, skewing more toward the likes of Ariel Pink than Nicki Minaj. Jessica Straker, the creator, wanted to re-create the sense of discovery that came with finding new artists on MTV, straying from the algorithms, sponsorship, and endless choices of platforms like Spotify and YouTube. The Internet has placed everything at our fingertips, and yet it often feels difficult to wade through the noise to find something truly new.
The design of JuiceVCR was done by design firm antipattern and strikes a perfect balance between 2015 Internet streaming and 1981 television viewing. You can skip endlessly through songs and pause each video, but beyond that the controls are limited. There are no playlists or options—just music videos. When you move your mouse, a grain-simulating pattern comes over the screen, making your shiny new laptop look like an old TV screen. The simple design takes the controls away from you and lets you just enjoy the “hypnotic relationship between sight and sound.”
So in honor the VMAs next week, the last vestige of MTV’s musical past, dive in and watch some great music videos!