Frank Zappa: not a fan of music videos, would’ve probably loved the internet

By on February 4, 2015

In this candid interview with Night Flight in 1985, the late Frank Zappa laments the white-washed, market driven direction music videos had gone, dragging the quality of music down with them. According to Zappa, the thing he “most dislikes about videos” is that they create the need for more contrived and bland music to accompany them. It’s a slippery slope, he suggests, when the tastes and needs of major media networks like MTV become the gatekeepers of content.

It’s an interesting opinion to have in 1985, when most musicians and especially industry types were thrilled about the new promotional venture that music videos allowed. But Zappa is spot on about how cheesy most of those videos turned out to be and in a way, his frustrations foreshadow the advent of customizable streaming music video channels like youtube. “If I was going to program a show,” he says “I would have more of a variety of textures and types of imagery involved in the stuff that was shown.”

Music videos are still a massive part of an industry that’s been turned upside down more than once over the last couple decades. Today’s consumption of them mirrors something akin to Zappa’s vision of variety, but maybe only in theory. Anyone can create their own unique viewing experience by adding variety that meets their personal taste, but the videos that have the most traffic, the most ad direction and reach the most people are still the major label kind: contrived and safe. It goes with out saying, the music follows suit. Sadly, Zappa’s frustrations still resonate.

If you’re looking for more Frank Zappa, here’s a 30 minute performance from 1973:

About Night Flight

Voice of a generation that spoke from 11PM-7AM EST Friday and Saturday on USA Network in the '80s. Back to enlighten and inspire 24/7.