MTV Europe: the VJ years
INDEX OF "MTV EUROPE"
- VJ photos: below
- Transcripts and articles: below
- Pictures: on the MTV Pictures page
- More on MTV Europe 1993-1994 (programmes, specials) on the MTV Extra page.
Paul King was an MTV VJ from May 1989 up until 31.07.1994.
He presented shows such as:
- a VJ slot (10 am - 1 pm CET)
- Dial MTV
- 120 Minutes: "two hours of the best and latest in alternative and independent music"
- Greatest Hits: "an hour's worth of the best in classic videos".
- Hit List UK ("the fastest moving chart in Europe")
- XPO, later called First Look (debuts of new videos and album releases)
...and of course he presented other shows as well, standing in for other VJs.
Some of his infamous catch phrases were:
- "... all the things that make you go jiggy-jiggy"
- "(It's official, there's no denying it), the weekend starts right now / is kicking in as far as we are concerned"
- "the show that hits the G-spot / the show with G-force (is coming your way)" (Greatest Hits)
- "... where your evening starts in the most positive of ways"
- "all hail and salutations"
- "Salutations to you, hail hail, all those thing that make you go jig-a-jig-a-jig".
- "what do you do, what do you say, [day] afternoon/evening (is) on your way"
- "It is my duty, nay my pleasure to announce that Greatest Hits is on the way"
- "I now leave you in the very capable hands of Ray Cokes, guy with the jokes, host with the most (wanted crew)."
- "... as once again from the archives we pull out videos from the likes of..."
- " (It's) déjà-vu, me and you, I am back, leader of the pack"
- "C'est moi, classic video guru, resident talking head and raider of the lost archives"
- "Hey hey hey, what can I say, it's (mid-day)."
In 1993, MTVtext (section 'VJ Profiles') said this about him:
"Lead singer of the successful '80s band King, Paul first appeared on MTV in May 1989 as a stand-in VJ. In January 1990 he became a permanent face on the channel."
The MTV Veejays:
Ray Cokes, Vanessa Warwick, Rebecca de Ruvo, Simone Angel, Paul King
Kristaine Backer; the big boss
Sonya Saul, Marijne van der Vlugt, Pip Dann
The MTV Veejays:
Sonya Saul, Rebecca de Ruvo, Pip Dann, Kristiane Backer, Marijne van der Vlugt
Vanessa Warwick; the big boss
Ray Cokes, Paul King, Simone Angel
|Articles, transcripts and photos etc.|
* Transcript of Paul King on Greatest Hits announcing and talking of King (Oct/Nov 1993):
Welcome to a Friday afternoon, making our way into that weekend, and continuing on our A tot Z of rock and pop videos. We’re up to the letter K today. We’re talking Kraftwerk, we’re talking Lenny Kravitz, we’re talking a bit of Chaka Khan, we’re talking Ben E King, we’re talking BB King and we are talking King. It’s all on the way – K, on MTV’s Greatest Hits. See you soon.
[King - Love and Pride]
So there you have it, the band who are claimed as the underrated pop geniuses of the 1980’s that they were, King there and ‘Love and Pride’. The band that took the Doctor Martens from the street gangs onto the catwalk and the fashion high street – and that was me on lead vocals. Hello there and welcome to Greatest Hits, as we make our way through that A to Z of rock and pop videos and we have lots of Kings coming up, no relation.
* Transcript of Paul King hosting his last ever Greatest Hits show, 29 July 1994:
Heading into the weekend, here on MTV, it’s a Friday night of course and the last edition of the week, MTV’s Greatest Hits is coming your way, and for your classic video guru, resident talking head and raider of the lost archives, c’est moi, it’s the last show ever, so in fact I’m pulling out some of those videos that I really do think deserve to be called ‘great’ and ‘classic’. Pulling out in the hour forthcoming the full length version of Thriller from Michael Jackson, David Bowie will be there, we’re talking Talking Heads, we have The The, Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure – all lined up. Stay with us, Greatest Hits, my last show ever, is on the way.
Friday evening, we are going into the weekend and I have to announce to you that this is the final ever edition of MTV’s Greatest Hits with me as a presenter. Let’s go.
[…] That’s one of the first videos I‘ve ever presented on MTV. I always, still think it’s a great video. Laidback there and "Bakerman". Hello there and welcome to MTV’s Greatest Hits, taking you into the weekend. C’est moi, of course, your resident talking head, classic video guru and raider of the lost archives, I have to announce to you: this is the final ever edition of Greatest Hits for myself, so his hour I’ll be pulling out the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, Depeche Mode, The The, Cure, New Order, David Bowie and Talking Heads – all of which I’ve chosen personally, because I think they deserve the title ‘great’ and indeed ‘classic’ videos, for different reasons. Sometimes just because they’re incredibly innovative and sometimes ‘cause I think the music is great combined with the visuals it’s brilliant, and also because it’s an impossible task to put anything together which you think is the final sort of countdown of your all time great videos or music – try doing it yourself. Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime". This is brilliant.
[Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime]
[David Bowie - Ashed To Ashes]
It’s a Friday evening, we’re going into the weekend here on MTV and this is the last edition of the week and indeed forever for myself on MTV’s Greatest Hits. So all of the videos you see in this hour tonight are the ones I’ve chosen, believing them to be great or classic for various reasons. The Cure are on the way and this one – an award-winning video so I suppose I’m safe in saying it’s a great one – this is New Order.
[New Order - True Faith]
[The Cure - Close To Me]
[…] I ought to give the video its full credits: Tim Pope and The Cure. That’s of course, the videos are often ignored in this particular genre. Something that I’m sure will change in the future. And we have another video coming up, where the video director and the artist concerned share a similar relationship really, to Tim Pope and The Cure. There’s been a very successful relationship with both people, both parties concerned, as indeed have Depeche Mode and Anton Corbijn, who are coming up next, and eh oh in fact we’ll play this as well for the Depeche Mode Fan Club over there in Budapest who I’ll be seeing on September the 24th for the Trident Party. Look forward to being there. Here come Depeche Mode. Great video. "Enjoy the Silence".
[Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence]
[A House - Endless Art]
[The The - Heartland]
[…] Not my actual first choice to play. But I wanted to play "Infected" but we can’t play that at his hour of the day. This is also a great song and a great band of course, that is The The. Now the next choice I’ve made in my last show ever for MTV’s Greatest Hits was more about the director rather than the artist, though all the artists concerned are also excellent. I could have chosen Tom Waits, I could have chosen David Bowie, Don Henley, Neneh Cherry, Björk, Vanessa Paradis, all of them have had had wonderful videos created for them by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who I do rate as a genius in this particular field. So I give you the one he did for Prince.
[Prince - I Wish U Heaven]
[…] as a presenter. So to end a classic video presenter era, I’d like to end on a classic video which we rarely play here because of its length, that is twelve minutes. It’s Michael Jackson and "Thriller". I’d like to thank Neil Breakwell, who always sits down there and listens to me, also Peter Good and of course you. Here comes Michael Jackson.
[Michael Jackson - Thriller, uncut version]
* Transcript of Paul King hosting his last ever 120 Minutes show, 31 July 1994.
Greetings to you and salutations, making our way towards the end of the weekend. It’s nine o’clock on a Sunday evening and as far as I’m concerned this is the final edition of 120 Minutes.
[Babes In Toyland video]
What a great video. And for those of you who have just joined us, hopefully you’re not too freaked out when I said ‘the final edition of 120 Minutes’, I did not mean that 120 Minutes comes to an end, but as far as I’m concerned as a presenter of the show that it does. because this is the final edition and indeed my last ever presentation on MTV, and so I’m very happy that it is with 120 Minutes, a show that’s also been very close to my heart over the years. And indeed for this edition, I’m gonna go back over the past four years of the show, pulling out some of the best videos that I’ve enjoyed – hopefully you too, not U2 the band but you, too - and also some live performances: we have Cranes lined up in live performance, Spiritualized and videos from the likes of Swans, Einstürzende Neubauten will be here, Young Gods, Pankow and New Fast Automatic Daffodils are lined up. Also that we have a wonderful 120 Minutes competition for you to keep an eye out on and Ride as well in interview. All in this final edition for me on 120 Minutes. From Babes In Toyland we go to another babe, though I’m sure she won’t like me saying that – PJ Harvey.
[PJ Harvey video]
[New Fads video]
My choice there, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, who we haven’t heard of in a long while. I really personally don’t know what’s happened to them, I’m not sure they even exist as a band and I hope they do. When I saw them live, which would have been around 1990, I was very very impressed, at the time, of them. A band who have never fitted into any particular fashion or, you know, the sort of music press band of the week. However they’ve always had their own unique style and sound and a band like that either lasts forever, and ride over fashion trends, or they get lost between the cracks sadly, and hopefully that’s not the case for New Fads – I’d like to think they’re still going. As I’ve said, this is my final edition of 120 Minutes, so I’ve got to choose everything which goes in – which is quite a pleasure to do, however it also gets very hard and virtually impossible ‘cause I had enough I think to fill four shows. I did wanna include some live performance stuff, and that in itself was a whole job, because when we look back at what we have filmed over the past four years for 120 Minutes, the list is very impressive, eh, Galaxy 500’s, Gallon Drunk’s, PJ Harvey’s, Kitchens of Extinction, Mano Negro, Band of Holy Joy, The Pixies, the list just goes on and on, it was like ‘ugh, who do you actually get to choose?’ As fate would have it, I was thinking of putting in this next band ‘cause I do enjoy them and always did and I thought we filmed them very specially for our Christmas show of 1980, and I say fatefully, because in fact I was reading in the press this week that they have a brand new single on the way, their first of 1994 and their third album for Dedicated Records called ‘Love’ will be out in September. I’m talking about the Cranes, they’ll be returning to your charts very soon. In the meanwhile we go back to our December show of 19… 90, four years ago, which we also had Edwyn Collins on this performance and this is The Cranes.
[The Cranes video]
Ministry takes us back into 120 Minutes here on this Sunday evening. Hello there and welcome. Before you had that commercial break of course you had the Cranes live in performance and if I confused you, I was confused myself, it wasn’t from 1980, it was in fact 1990, featuring the camera work there of Jeff Ellis and also AndyCam and Rob the Cameraman before they went to superstardom of course on the Most Wanted crew. Hello there, we’re celebrating 120 Minutes here tonight, at least I am, ‘cause this is the final edition of the show for myself, it’s the last one I shall be presenting, so consequently I’ve get to choose everything we’ll be playing tonight. Ministry I’ve just played for you there, of course, family musicians based around Al Jourgensen, and numerous projects off the back of that from Pig Face to Revolting Cocks, 1000 Homo DJs and also the next band coming up, Lead Into Gold, and the thing I do like about the whole Ministry camp, whatever you wanna call it, is the fusion of rock and technology, which does appeal to me a lot and the fact that they are dark and also funny also tempts my taste buds. I really like this video when it first came out, in fact we all did at 120 Minutes, and if you were watching the show back in 1990, I think it was 90, actually it might have been 91, whatever it was, we played it virtually every week for about three months, so here’s going down memory lane. Lead Into Gold.
[Lead Into Gold video]
[Young Gods video]
As chosen by your humble presenter, as this is the final edition of the show for myself, the band who, for me, are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and still are, continually claimed to stretching the limits of that old rock beasts, that is the Young Gods, and we’re still waiting of course for a new album from them. They’ve been teasing us for a long time that it’s coming, but hopefully it will be here this year, I hope so. Now we’re gonna go to a sad but necessary commercial break. After that, if you’ve been watching Most Wanted last week, you’d have seen special guests for Ray Cokes were Ride, last Friday evening, and whilst they were at MTV, I grabbed hold of them for what in fact is my last ever interview for 120 Minutes. That will be coming up after the break. Before we go to that, though, Pukkelpop, of course, the festival in Belgium which kind of ends festival season across Europe takes place again this year, it’s bigger and better this year, and we are going there yet again with our cameras for what is their strongest line-up ever, and to tease you as to who will be there and who you can see, take a look at this.
[Interview of Ride by Paul King; not transcribed because of poor sound quality]
Welcome back to 120 Minutes, the final edition of this particular show as far as I, your presenter, is concerned. This is the last show I’ll be presenting so consequently all the videos and performances you see this evening are those that I have chosen. And still to come tonight we have swans, Foetus, Einstürzende Neubauten, we have some KLF, Luxuria and Wire on the way and next some industrial music from Italy, Pankow – a band who I became familiar with by their Svobody! album, which was in fact a remix album of some of their better moments. I was persuaded to go and see them here in London at the Hard Club and it was an electrifying performance and I was so impressed I managed to persuade the 120 girls to take us off to Prague to go and film them there as well as having a great time in Prague of course. And so I’ll play you the first video we’re ever had from them. This is Pankow.
Spiritualized live in performance, actually recorded May 1992 and first broadcast on June 29 of 1992, a very very good session – of which we have many, far too many of course for me to fit into two hours of 120 Minutes, so what I recommend to you of course is that you keep pestering the 120 Minutes team to pull out some of those old sessions, ‘cause they should be aired, they should be played again. we move on to a commercial break, we’ll be back with some Foetus, Einstürzende Neubauten are lined up for you, and still to come KLF, Wire and also Luxuria and Swans, so stay with us here on 120 Minutes.
This is 120 Minutes and the final edition of the show for myself. The last time you will see me here introducing to you the best of alternative and independent music and consequently for this two hours I’ll be choosing what I consider as been some of the best music, alternative and independent-wise that we’ve had over the past four years on the show. At the start of the show I also told you that we’re about to start running another of our infamous 120 Minutes competitions, a very very good one this time. Big Cat Records in Germany are having a sort of fifth year anniversary party in Cologne and all of their major bands will be performing. We’re gonna fly you and a friend into London and take you off on a tour bus with the bands to Cologne, go and see the gig, hang out backstage, come back with the bands to London and there’s also runners-up prizes which I ‘ll tell about a little later on as well. Keep an eye out for that, ‘cause it’s coming up straight after this, which is Foetus aka Jim Thirlwell aka all the other sort of variations on the Foetus name. He’s actually been spending a lot of time behind the remix and production desk of late, we haven’t been having any Foetus records, but hopefully that will change. In the meantime though, one of the best tracks that we’ve ever had, I think, on 120 Minutes in the past four years, definitely a great video as well, Foetus.
Excellent stuff from the one German band whose name I could never ever ever pronounce and I will not even attempt to do so, especially since it’s my last show, I won’t embarrass myself, and before that you saw the Big Cat Records competition, taking place in August and the runners-up prizes for that by the way, apart from the wonderful winner thing, where you come with a friend to London and go and see the show, we do have five actual complete back catalogues of Big Cat Records, that’s everything they’ve ever released, five sets of those for five runners-up and also separate to that as well, there will be 100 CDs that are a sort of compilation CDs of the best of Big Cat Records, so it’s worth entering even if you don’t win the actual, the main prize and head off to Cologne to go and see the show. We stay in Germany now for the one band that I did manage to get my mouth around in pronouncing their name and I’m pleased that I did: Einstürzende Neubauten.
[Einstürzende Neubauten video]
Greetings to you and salutations here on a Sunday evening as we enter into a, well a bit of history really, a least for me, personal history, it’s my last ever appearance on MTV and as a presenter of 120 Minutes, I’m wallowing in nostalgia over the last two hours and this next particular video coming up it’s, I suppose I call those moments of music, they all become part of your life and tie you to certain moments and certain feelings, and this one definitely does. It kinda goes back to the “Summer of Love” or the “Second Summer of Love”, 1989 really, and then falling through the next year of 1990. KLF had just brought out their ‘Chill Out’ album, the first ambient house record, that was being called, and they were still an underground band at the time, they’d get to go on to pop superstardom and this in fact is their first ever version, the instrumental version of ‘What time is love’.
Luxuria and Howard Devoto of course, from an album produced by Dave Formula and Noko was on guitar and playing most of the instruments, and in fact he’s with Apollo 440 now, I believe. And a reminder in fact that we have another live session from Luxuria, another of which you could write in to see and I recommend that you do, it’s a good live session. This is the final edition for myself for 120 Minutes, that’s why I’m choosing things which count for me and give me pleasure to see again and a band who’ve always given me great pleasure and in fact one of my favourite interviews, ‘cause I always wanted to meet them and one of the nice things in being in this job is you get to talk to people that you’d like to talk to in the first place and also ask them the kind of questions that you probably couldn’t ask if you just met them casually at a party, I’m talking about Wire and in fact they have as of this week had nearly all of their albums brought out for the first time on CDs, some of those great albums of course that were so influential and innovative and they are still influential and innovative and they are Wire.
[Sexepil - Eroding Europe]
Sexepil and ‘Eroding Europe’, and I’ll be catching up with them, personally, in Budapest, the Trident Party which is taking place on September the 24th, if you’re in Budapest or around the town, do pop along, I’d like to see you and meet some friends in Hungary. And so we come to the end of 120 Minutes for this week and indeed for myself the end of four years as a presenter of 120 Minutes and I suppose I should say some personal thank you’s. I’d like to thank Katelijne and also Sarah, who are also involved of course in making the show, very much involved in it, I’d like to thank them for making it pleasure and fun and I’d also like to thank you of course for being there and watching it. For the past two hours I’ve been trying to put together a show which summed up for me the sort of best moments and the best things that have happened over the last four years. It proved to be impossible, I could have done so much more and put so much more in it, but I’m probably better off just relaxing and enjoying what you get, which is my kind of philosophy on life, which you’re welcome to to share and I’ll end four years and also my time at MTV with a track whose title kinda sums up my philosophy on life, which you’re also welcome to and can share. This is the Swans and I hope to see you again soon.
[Swans - Love of Life]
Note about my translations: my apologies if they're not really good English - I'm not an English native speaker, so inevitably there will be some mistakes in vocabulary and grammar. The translations will, however, convey the meaning of the Dutch text and that's their purpose. I translated the whole content, even some mistakes and errors; even if it's complete nonsense...!
* Gezellig kijken met zijn 92 miljoenen! (source unknown; August 1992)
Translation (not revised yet)
Let's sit down and watch TV, the 92 million of us!
MTV is having its fifth birthday
On 1 August 1981, MTV started in America. In a short time, it became the most powerful youth station in America. The formula of 24 hours a day full of music videos, interviews with pop artists and loads of pop news was a direct hit. MTV became a household word. While Mummy is watching a soap downstairs, her son and daughter are watching MTV in their room upstairs. MTV's influence is gigantic. Many groups andartist have gained fame through MTV. At the start of 1985, the music station was going downhill. At the request of recording companies the programming was altered. As a result the programming became neither fish nor flesh. Hardrock was banned and only middle of the road music was played. As the progressive character of the station disappeared, the ratings dropped immediately. "The core of our viewers was actually scared off," says MTV America's boss Tom Freston. "For them, MTV had been the station that gave new bands a chance. Nobody was waiting for sweet-voiced love songs. After two meagre years MTV reversed its policy. Heavy metal was featured again, new bands were given a chance and ballads were restricted to a minimum. MTV once again became a rock-'n'-roll station for adolescents. On 1 August 1987 Elton John started off MTV Europe from the Roxy Club in Amsterdam. On its first day the station had only one and a half million cable connections to broadcast to, but today MTV Europe can be received by 38 million households in 28 countries. So if you're watching, you're absolutely not alone!
The faces of MTV
- Simone Angel: 20-year-old Simone is a native Dutchwoman and debuted on MTV in April 1991. Every weekday she introduces the newest videos in the afternoon. She also presents the weekly show 'Party Zone' which focuses entirely on dance music.
- Kristiane Backer: Kristiane hals from Hamburg, Germany. She's the host for the night viewers. She works for MTV since February 1989. On occasion she presents the daily show 'The Coca Cola Report'.
- Steve Blame: this thoroughly British VJ has been working for MTV Europe since its start in '87. He's especially known for his much discussed and crazy interviews with all the prominent pop artists. He's MTV's sleuth: whenever something worth reporting is happening, Steve is there like lightning.
- Ray Cokes: Ray is the man who keeps in contact with the viewers through funny competitions, top interviews and acoustic performances by the stars. Just like Steve, Ray is one of MTV Europe's veterans. Film lovers probably know him from the film show 'The Big Picture'.
- Pip Dann: New-Zealander Pip first appeared on MTV in November 1987, as a stand-in VJ for the ones on holiday. In December 1988 she got a permanent contract and since then she has presented numerous programmes including 'The European Top 20 Countdown'.
- Rebecca De Ruvo: 22-year-old Rebecca is Swedish and since the start of 1991 she greets the viewers every morning in 'Awake On The Wildside'. She also presents the viewers' chart.
- Paul King: you probably remember him as the singer of the British pop group King. He also got a job at MTV as a stand-in VJ and hasn't left since. His regular programmes are '120 Minutes' and 'MTV's Greatest Hits'.
- Sonya Saul: British Sonya works as newsreader and reporter for MTV. Every other hour she presents a short news flash, together with Steve Blame.
- Marijne van der Vlugt: Dutch Marijne works for MTV since last year. She's only occupied with fashion and lifestyle. If you want to be kept informed about the newest trends, watch her programme 'The Pulse with Swatch'.
- Vanessa Warwick: she is the hardrock expert of MTV, since January 1991. Be it heavy metal, trash or hardcore, Vanessa brings it all into your living-room with 'Headbangers Ball'.
MTV Facts and Information
- MTV's archives in London contain more than 13000 videoclips. And weekly some 30 are added.
- The first video MTV in America showed was 'Video Killed The Rdaio Star' by The Buggles.
- The first video that was played on 1 August (at the start of MTV Europe) was 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits.
- There is an MTV Europe, America, Asia, Australia and Brazil
- MTV organises the yearly MTV Video Music Awards. This has become one of the most important musical happenings in the world.
- MTV regularly campaigns, together with artists, to raise awareness of topics as the environment, drugs, smoking, alcohol and AIDS.
- MTV broadcasts about 100 videos a day.
- MTV thought of the word video jockey (VJ). Special guest VJs were, until now: Phil Collins, Joan Jett, Bon Jovi, New Kids On The Block, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Curt Smith, Bananarama and many others.
- The name MTV is used in, among others, the song text of 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits (I want my MTV) and in the.... George Michael [and here the text stops]
* Verdwijnt MTV van de kabel? (Oor, 8 February 1992)
Will MTV disappear from the cable?
Text is about whether MTV would disappear from Dutch cable or not.
* MTV (Veronica Magazine 13, 1990)
Careers can easily be combined in the world of entertainment. Paul King (photo) for example, is both pop musician and tv presenter. He's a presenter at MTV, the popular pop station that programmes so many video clips and also interviews. A few years ago, Paul had a lot of success as a pop musician with the band he named after himself: King. His advantage is, of course, that Paul can see the music business from two sides and, where necessary, can relativise.
* Vee Jay Paul King (Veronica Magazine 14, 1991)
Vee Jay Paul King
MTV is still young
"I never really stopped making music, 'cause a creative person doesn't lose his creativity when changing jobs," says Paul King, one time singer of the band King and now one year employed by MTV as a video jockey (VJ).
"After my career with King in America I went back to live in London. It was 1986 and satellite television was just coming up," says Paul. The black-haired presenter immediately bought a satellite dish. "It was very futuristic at the time to have such a thing on your roof. I loved the idea that I could watch programmes which were seen by numerous people all over Europe at the same time." Paul remained fascinated by satellite television. This made him succesfully apply for a job at MTV at the start of 1989. "I started as a stand-in VJ. In the spring of 1990 they offered me a permanent position." Since then Paul takes care of the presentation of the shows "120 Minutes", "Greatest Hits" and, recently, "Dial MTV", in which the top 5 of requested videos is played. "The fun with Dial MTV is that the programme gives feedback from the public," states Paul. This show is also proof of MTV's influence, since its top 5 often corresponds with MTV's airplay top 5.
"MTV is actually the same as starting a new band," thinks King. "You have a new record and an act and you try to reach the public. MTV is very much the same. I consider announcing videos as performing. It's still communicating with the public. MTV is still a young phenomenon and still has to prove itself." That's what MTV has been doing recently behind the former iron curtain. From the start of March MTV is broadcast even to the Soviet Union. Paul: "Yes, that's fabulous - the fact that we can now communicate with the Soviets. Moreover, it's a historic event that rock 'n' roll and MTV are being tolerated over there. A mind blowing thing!"
His work at MTV has given Paul a good perspective on the developments in pop music. He sees that the average life span of a pop band is considerably shorter these days than before. "The power of videos and the power of the media make that pop music is consumed faster," King explains, "and a band lives on a hit for a shorter time. Previously you could have a hit record in country A and score three months later in country B with the same song. Nowadays, with stations such as MTV, a record is made known to the world in one go, which reduces the careers of 'one hit wonders' from two years to five - six months," says Paul, who himself still makes some music. He's now making quiet, instrumental music in his own studio in London. Paul: "It's not danceable, er, call it music to listen to."
* Paul King: creatief tegen wil en dank (Oor 8, 1990)
Translation (not revised yet):
Paul King: creative out of necessity
MTV Europe starts to look a bit like an asylum for ex-pop stars. It's not that we have anything against that, but anyway... Marcel Vanthilt, in the ancient past famous in Flandres with 'Arbeid Adelt!' had just left and the next one appeared. His name was Paul King and he was once the front man of King, a British teeny-bopperband that had a hit halfway through the eighties with 'Love and Pride'. (And he for his part is sometimes substituted by Don Letts, ex-Big Audio Dynamite).
King's success was shortlived. And when last year their five-year contract with CBS expired, Paul King and his mates were booted. "I literally and figuratively knocked on MTV's door and asked them if they had a job for me. And thanks to their open door policy I could start right away," says Paul King, a native Irishman who assumed an Oxford-English accent during his drama studies "Somehow, in the course of time, I lost my interest in making pop music myself. I've experienced how the music business operates and I have had enough of it. Writing hits with a stanza, a chorus and another stanza - I'm not saying it's easy but for me it's no big deal. I'm not interested any more." But if it's no big deal for him to write hit singles, why didn't all his singles since 'Love and Pride' succeed? "Because of problems with the record company. They only considered us a singles chart band, alhough we took ourselves very seriously. That clashed. And in the long run, you always will be defeated by the record company." An experience the richer and an illusion the poorer Paul King by any means wanted to stay active in the music biz. "Because it's the only thing I know something about." He bought a recording studio from his savings, in which he's working with young hardcore hip hop artists. "I enable them to make recordings. I don't interfere with the process. That's why I have plenty of time and energy left to do something beside it," And that was MTV. "An ideal job. Firstly, I'm still involved in music, doing what I do best and that's performing. Secondly, MTV is a perfect training school. I write my own texts, do production work and now and then I also direct. I'm more than just a talking head."
Most of his time and efforts are spent on 120 Minutes, the alternative rockshow which is broadcast Fridays after midnight (Saturday afternoon a remix of it is broadcast under the name 60 Minutes). Paul King: "Perhaps you wouldn't expect it, but I've always preferred indie music; even more, as King we tried to mix funk and reggae with an attitude that is connected to this independent pop. Because I think indie music has everything to do with attitude. These musicians don't want to and don't have to conform to a certain taste. And so I think interesting new music is made."
"With 120 Minutes I can do and not do whatever I want. Our biggest handicaps are time - we only have two hours - and money - there isn't any at all. But I don't think that's a drawback per se. I'd like to compare 120 Minutes with French cinema in the fifties. They had to compete with Hollywood. The French didn't have any financial means, but Hollywood had plenty. The French however, kept making one great film after another. If they were shooting outside and it suddenly started to rain although it wasn't in the script, they simply added a rain scene. This is how 120 Minutes works as well. We have to be creative, just like the artists that we feature on our show."
* Een dag uit het leven van MTV-jock Paul King (Hitkrant, 4 August 1993).
A day in the life of MTV VJ Paul King
Paul King is a versatile man. He once was a singing pop idol: in 1985 he and his band King were in the Dutch Top 10 with 'Love & Pride'. Recently he's become an actor as well, because a few months ago he made his debut in the British film 'A Rake's Progress'. But all music-loving Europeans know him mainly as the MTV-veejay with the pleasant voice and friendly smile. Thanks to his relaxed presentation of programmes such as 'Greatest Hits' and 'First Look', it's hard to imagine MTV without Paul. We've followed this sympathetic Briton during his busy preparation for one of his programmes. Well, busy...
"I've got the best job in the world!"
< Paul: "My work day starts off in the morning in my office. After my first cup of coffee, I take my second cup. Then I receive a fax from the MTV-direction with the programming and the day's texts..."
"During my fifth cup of coffee I call the programme director to pass on any text changes. The recording times also vary. Mostly two episodes of Greatest Hits are recorded daily. An extra episode of First Look is recorded, in addition, on Fridays. That show features brand-new clips. The MTV work schedule isn't that bad, because, since all all shows are recorded a few days before their actual transmission, I'm off on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays..." >
< "After that I dive into the dusty MTV archives to find the required video tapes. That's a fun job to do, because you'll find the most amazing oldies. You name it, it's there. Yes, even 'Love & Pride' by King, ha ha ha."
"When I've collected all video tapes, I put them in a video changer. That's a computer-controlled machine that makes sure the clips are in focus and that they can be played one after another on demand. Technology knows no limits." >
< "Just before the actual recordings I check all the tapes together with the show's producer. It sometimes happens that the wrong video was placed in the tape box or that a tape is damaged. This is a very relaxed part - I even have time enough to read my papers."
"After that I go into the dressing room to powder my nose. We do have someone who does the make-up, but in my case that's not necessary, because I'm ready in no time. I prefer to wipe a sponge over my face myself." >
< "After the make-up I have to wait until the production team is done putting up the set and other technical stuff I don't know anything about. Most of the time I go for a walk or sit and rest on the sofa in the reception area. Everyone needs time to relax!
"There's no cameraman present at the recording of Greatest Hits, because the camera remains at the same angle. The camera is controlled by a computer in the control room. Well, for you, I don't mind taking place behind the camera. It does look rather professional, doesn't it?" >
< "When all technical experts are done in the TV studio, I'm called up by the intercom. I go and stand before the camera, put on my microphone and then the recording starts. I don't have to learn the texts by heart, because during the recording the texts are displayed on the auto-cue. I just have to read them. Easy, isn't it? No, really, I've got the best job in the world..."
Official MTV Picture (signed)
The world of MTV (Current, September/October 1992)
The world of MTV
Geoff Mortimore goes behind the scenes at MTV Europe to examine the pop video and its role in the music industry
Have you seen the video in which the guy is singing and thousands of cartoon creatures are flying around his head? Or the video in which the male band members are cavorting about dressed as women, doing the housework? You may remember the videos - but can you remember the songs? This is a strongly debated point in the music industry, as some people feel that the pop video, as an art form, is undermining the quality of the music it is supposed to be promoting.
So has video killed the radio star? Not according to Brett Hansen, director of production and programming for MTV Europe. New Zealander Hansen is a firm believer in the theory that visual strength is at least as important as the musical content in the song. And MTV's opinion carries a lot of weight in the music business.
MTV is a whole new phenomenon in itself. American MTV was launched in 1981, and MTV Europe was born on August 1, 1987, transmitting to around three million viewers. Today it broadcasts twenty-four hours a day and reaches some 32.8 million homes in twenty-eight countries, from Greece, Germany and France to countries as far flung as Bulgaria, Romania, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (several states of the former Soviet Union), a fact that Hansen is very proud of. He puts it down to hard work and the ability of the channel to meet customer requirements and break new ground at the same time.
Hansen has overall control of what is put on the screens, when, and to whom. This is no simple task when you have twenty-four hours a day of music to present. He also monitors news broadcasts, and plays a major part in the day to day running of the business. What is most important to him is that MTV Europe has its own separate identity from the American version of MTV. He points out, "It would be much cheaper and easier just to hook up to the American version, but MTV Europe has a powerful mark. It has to have a different personality to what you see in America."
With power and influence comes criticism, and detractors of MTV and the concept of the music video aim two main criticisms at MTV. One is that the channel features only British and American bands. Hansen argues that it is up to the individual countries and music stations to push harder. He thinks that there are not enough foreign music TV shows that showcase and produce local talent in the first place, which hampers MTV from the start.
This is borne out by the European charts, which MTV compiles weekly. The charts are dominated by American and British acts, and all MTV Europe can do, is reflect current trends. He adds, "It is a constant effort of ours to find European bands that we feel can break across barriers, but we are, after all, an international entity."
"I see MTV as a channel which is, in itself, a programme. It's, in a way, like your friend. It should always be there, and always be ready to deliver what you want and expect from it." The mood of the channel is set by the people who work there, and, says Hansen, they are all encouraged to go to gigs and clubs, and to keep up with what's happening. "It's the style of the people that dictates the vibe of the channel." That's what makes MTV Europe different, he thinks. "We have proved that just playing videos does not necessarily mean that you are creating a vibrant channel - it needs more."
But another common criticism of MTV is that it plays it too safe, and concentrates on bands that are regularly in the charts. Does it simply pander to the multinational record companies who can afford to spend thousands plugging a single record? In theory, says Hansen, this is not the case. "The trouble, though, is that the smaller lesser known groups are not really the overriding vibe of the channel, although they are still a highly influential part of it."
"In some ways," he continues, "MTV gives such bands a better chance of breaking through, because they can fully exploit their visual power. We don't just play safe, everyone gets exposure on our shows. The balance is important to me, because I would like to think that a Madonna fan could sit next to a Velvet Underground fan and feel comfortable. The same goes for our programmes. Where there is an opportunity to take a risk, I will do it."
In fact, this willingness to step close to the edge is another aspect which separates MTV from other music shows. Probably the best example of the channel's more liberal attitude was when it refused to ban Madonna's "Justify My Love" video, when almost everyone else did ban it. Now, MTV's reputation is such that, if MTV bands something, it must be really truly offensive. However, last year MTV refused to play a video by Neil Young because it was blatantly advertising certain products, and the video then went on to win prestigious awards.
But Hansen is adamant that the channel will not just play anything. The selection process is long and sometimes complicated. "We play all the new releases each Tuesday," he says. They are put to a committee which includes the music programmers, the channel programmers and anybody else involved with each individual programme. In specialised music programmes, the VJs, or video jockeys, are on the team too.
After hearing all the releases, a general agreement is reached based on a myriad of different reasons. "Basically," says Hansen, "if it's a really crap video or a really crap song, and we feel it doesn't reflect what we are, we will turn it down. Then we look at the feedback from record companies, radio stations, viewers' opinions and chart placings before reaching the final decision." And, Hansen continues, "we have to be careful. We have a huge responsibility and we know we have to power to dictate the market - Nirvana's recent success is a prime example of that.
Hansen also knows the limits of MTV Europe, and strangely enough, its strength as an international organisation is also its weakness. Because it crosses so many national borders, language in particular is restricted. There is no room for puns, for example, and there is little chance of a foreign language programme being shown.
Nevertheless, Brent Hansen's enthusiasm for what he creates is contagious, which is hardly surprising. As he says, it is, at the end of the day, a great gig.
MTV Video Jockey Paul King in the recording studio
MTV's Greatest Hits advertisement (source unknown, 1993)
Copyright © 2008-2009 Audrey Scheres