MTV’s Iconic Franchise “Unplugged” Set to Return

By Cameron Pridmore

Mariah Carey for MTV Unplugged

Way back yonder before there was Spotify or Pandora, and way before music download services like iTunes, the way that you found out about new music was MTV. The music powerhouse was launched in 1981, and brought with it the music video revolution, as well as some pretty memorable television shows. Now of course you had your Bevis and Butt head, but there was also a wonderful little morsel called Unplugged. The show which ran in two different formats one from 1981 to 1999, and then Unplugged 2.0 which was ran until 2009, was one of the most popular music television shows of its time.

The press release by new the network on Tuesday illustrates that the network is bringing the franchise back, acknowledging that Unplugged was one of the networks strongest franchises and one that built MTV over the years. The press release did not exactly illustrate what type of format the show will take on this time, but undoubtedly it will most likely take on its previous tremendously popular format as before. The return of this iconic television franchise is MTV admitting that their network has really fallen off as of late, the channel which was built on music is now nothing more than a cesspool of reality television programs.

The unplugged series was built on live performances, and the premise of the show is built around the fact that it is an acoustic performance. Generally it was a showcase of the artist’s vocal talents, as well as their song writing abilities. The lack of the use of an amplifier or any electronics gave fans an intimate experience with their favorite artists and this helped the ratings explode during the last half of the 90s. The show also spawned some great album releases from the live sessions, which all sold double platinum. Some of these releases were from Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, and even the Eagles just to name a few.

The series also showcased some up and coming artists who ended up exploding in popularity such as nirvana, who performed for the series in New York in 1994 and spawned a platinum album. The franchise is a much needed relief from the current programming lineup, and the network executives are trying to save MTV before it becomes fully irrelevant. The channel is called “music” television, and yet their programming lineup has fallen way off base. You will very seldom find any actual “music” television on MTV anymore, and thus unplugged will make its iconic return.

While there is not an exact date set in stone, the network revealed that the franchise will return to MTV before the end of the year. Most likely for a fall return, right around the time when the holidays come around. The return of the franchise might actually spawn some new complication albums as before. We can only hope that MTV will send us into the New Year with some actual music television, and help a new generation experience what actually built the network.