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Launched January 1, 1985
Owned by MTV Networks (Viacom)
Slogan Watch and discuss
Headquarters New York City, U.S.
Formerly called VH-1: Video Hits One
VH1: Music First
Sister channel(s) MTV, VH1 Soul, VH1 Classic
DirecTV (U.S.) 335 (SD/HD)
1335 (VOD)
Dish Network (U.S.) 162 (SD/HD)
Yes (Israel) 76
Tata Sky (Republic of India) 725
Airtel digital TV (Republic of India) 386
DSTV (South Africa) 323
Available on many cable systems Check local listings for specific channels
Verizon FiOs 217
Part of a series on

  in the United States  

MTV channels
MTV2 · MTV Tr3́s · mtvU

MTV programs

MTV personalities

Criticism of MTV
Censorship on MTV

MTV Networks

VH1 (known as VH-1: Video Hits One from 1985 to 1994) is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting's short-lived Cable Music Channel, the original purpose of the channel was to build on the success of MTV by playing music videos, but targeting a slightly older demographic than its sister channel, focusing on the lighter, softer side of popular music. The channel was originally created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, at the time a division of Warner Communications and owner of MTV. Both VH1 and its sister channel MTV are currently part of the MTV Networks division of corporate parent Viacom. While VH1 still occasionally plays music videos and the Top 20 Video Countdown, its more recent claim to fame has been in the area of music-related reality programming, such as Behind the Music, the I Love the... series, the Celebreality block of programming, and the channel's overall focus on popular culture.[1]


Early history of VH-1 (1985–1994)

An updated version of the second logo (1987-1994). At Christmas time, the "V" would be turned upside down to resemble a Christmas tree.

Format and VJs

VH-1's aim was to focus on the lighter, softer side of popular music,[1] including such musicians as Carly Simon, Tina Turner, Elton John, Sting, Donna Summer, Kenny G, and Anita Baker, in hopes of appealing to people aged 18 to 35, and possibly older. Also frequently featured in the network's early years were "videos" for Motown and other 1960s oldies consisting of newsreel and concert footage. It was introduced on January 1, 1985 with the video performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Marvin Gaye.[1]

From the start, Video Hits One was branded as an urbane version of its sister/parent channel. It played more jazz and R&B artists than MTV and had a higher rotation of urban-contemporary performers. Its early on-camera personalities were New York radio veterans Don Imus (then of WNBC); Frankie Crocker (then program director and DJ for WBLS); Scott Shannon (of Z100); Jon Bauman ("Bowzer" from Sha Na Na); Bobby Rivers; and Rita Coolidge.

Later VJs included Tim Byrd of WPIX-FM (now WRXP), a station whose eclectic ballad-and-R&B oriented format mirrored that of VH-1; and Alison Steele ("The Nightbird" of WNEW-FM). Rosie O'Donnell later joined the outlet's veejay lineup. O'Donnell would also host a stand up comedy show featuring various comedians each episode. As an added touch to make the network more like a televised radio station, the early years of the network featured jingles in their bumpers produced by JAM Creative Productions in Dallas, who had previously made jingles for radio stations worldwide.

The format left room for occasional ad-libs by the VJ, a godsend for emcees such as Imus and O'Donnell. In true Imus style, he used a 1985 segment of his VH-1 show to jokingly call smooth-jazz icon Sade Adu a "grape" for her oval-shaped head.

Early programming

VH1 catered to adult top 40, including musicians such as Ace of Base, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, and other slightly more rock-oriented popular music than what it had originally played, though favorites such as Whitney Houston, Elton John, Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Céline Dion, still received heavy play as well.

New Visions

Typical of VH1's early programming was New Visions, a series which featured videos and in-studio performances by smooth jazz and classical and New Age bands and performers, including Spyro Gyra, Andy Narell, Mark Isham, Philip Glass[2] and Yanni. At first many different musicians guest-hosted the program, but eventually musician/songwriter Ben Sidran established himself as permanent host.

VH1: Music First (1994–2003)

In December 1994, VH1 rebranded itself as VH1: Music First, following a ratings decline in the early 1990s.[1] They began airing A-Z marathons of videos during July 4th weekend and again at New Year's where they'd show a large percentage of their library of music videos, which would include mini-marathons of videos by artists with a large number of videos. The success of A to Z led to a weeknight 11pm hour-long broadcast of Madonna videos, titled The Madonna Show. The videos were aired without introduction by a VJ and the program was soon shortened to thirty minutes, and then scrapped all together. By 1996, VH1 was heading down the same path as its sister channel, MTV, choosing to focus more on music-related shows than on music videos. Additionally, the network began to expand its playlist of music videos to include more rock and rap music.[1] Old episodes of American Bandstand could regularly be seen on the channel. By that time, the channel's ratings were beginning to fall.

Video Countdown

As part of VH-1's rebranding as "VH1: Music First" in 1994, the channel launched a new series, the VH1 Top 10 Countdown, that counted down the top ten music videos played on VH1 each week. A combination of record sales, radio airplay, video spins, message board posts, and conventional mail would decide the order of the countdown. A rotating cast of VJs picked up hosting duties for the show over the years. The series expanded from ten to twenty music videos, becoming the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown, in 1999. VH1 Top 20 Countdown is premiered every Saturday morning at 9:00 and also shown on Sunday at 8:00 and lastly on Tuesday at 9:00 during the same week.

Pop-Up Video

The second "Music First" logo, used from 1999 to 2003.

In the fall of 1996, VH1 premiered Pop-Up Video, in which music videos were accompanied by "pop-ups" (also known as "bubbles" or "info nuggets")--small enclosed areas of the screen containing facts about the band or artist, such as career highlights, discography, biographical details, quotes, and anecdotes.

Behind the Music

In August 1997, VH1 again hit it big with the premiere of the first of the network's flagship shows, Behind the Music. The hourlong show features interviews and biographies of some of popular music's biggest stars qualified to be profiled on the series. The premiere episode featured Milli Vanilli. Episodes have ranged from Aaliyah to Stryper to Queen, as well as others such as Meat Loaf, MC Hammer, Oasis, Fleetwood Mac, TLC, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Britney Spears, Selena, Petra, Pantera, and Eminem, with more episodes being produced periodically. By the late 1990s, the show began to run out of artists to profile, leading to the short-lived BTM2 program, half-hour looks into bands and artists whose popularity was rising, but not yet at its peak.


Shortly after, VH1 created a companion series, Legends (originally sponsored by AT&T), profiling artists who have made a more significant contribution to music history to qualify as "Legends" (that is, those artists who do not fit in the category of Behind the Music biographies). The artists profiled so far have included The Bee Gees, David Bowie, Johnny Cash,Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, The Clash, George Clinton, Sam Cooke, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, John Fogerty, Marvin Gaye, The Grateful Dead, Guns N' Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Janis Joplin, B. B. King, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett, The Pretenders, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, U2, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Neil Young , Dire Straits and The Who.[3]

Save the Music Foundation

During its "Music First" days, VH1 created the Save The Music Foundation, which served to preserve and enhance music education programs in local schools. The VH1 Save the Music foundation was established in 1997 and purchased new musical instruments to restore music education programs that have been cut due to budget reductions in the past or to save programs at risk of elimination due to lack of instruments. The project was the brain child of VH1 President John Sykes and was developed by Bob Morrison who was the foundation's first CEO. The Foundation also conducted awareness campaigns, musical instrument drives and fundraising events. VH1 Save The Music Foundation celebrated its 10 year anniversary in September 2007.

VH1 Divas

In 1998, VH1 debuted the first annual VH1 Divas concert and featured the "divas" Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan and Celine Dion, and the "special guest" Carole King.[4] The most successful of these "diva" shows was produced in 1999 featuring Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Cher, LeAnn Rimes, Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill, Chaka Khan, Brandy, and special "divo" Elton John.[5] It became a huge success and was featured in the following years starring Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Destiny's Child, Shakira, Anastacia, Dixie Chicks, and Jessica Simpson. Some artists such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, Cher and Faith Hill featured two VH1 concerts.

Movies That Rock

In 1999, VH1 aired its first original movie, a bio-pic on Sweetwater. Their third original movie (which aired in 2000), Two of Us, focused on a fictional meeting between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Over the next three years, they made over a dozen movies, including bio-pics on Ricky Nelson, MC Hammer, The Monkees, Meat Loaf, and Def Leppard.

VH1 continues to air "Movies That Rock" on a regular basis, expanding to include movies not produced by VH1. The subject matter remains mostly focused on music and musicians.


In the late 1990s, VH1 continued to get more diverse and teen-based with its music selection, and with that, the network updated its 1994 "Big 1" logo. Various late-night rock shows have been shown on VH1, featuring alternative rock and metal videos from the 1980s and 1990s. VH1 eventually warmed up to harder rock acts such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Foo Fighters, and Metallica, and their new videos are generally added into VH1's playlist right away.

By the early 2000s, VH1 even began to play mainstream rap musicians.[1] The latest videos by Eminem, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Missy Elliott began to be shown in VH1's rotation and even started to crop up on VH1's top 20 countdown, as of late 2002. VH1 also plays music from Latin artists such as Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, Thalia and Shakira.

Other past trends

rockDocs was the title under which VH1 aired various music documentaries, both those produced by VH1 and those produced by third-parties. Such documentary series produced by VH1 include "And Ya' Don't Stop", a five-part series on the history of hip-hop and rap,[6] a four-part series on the history of heavy metal, Heavy: The Story of Metal, and The Drug Years, which tells the story of various drug cultures that changed America. Films produced by other studios have also been aired as rockDocs, including Woodstock, Madonna: Truth or Dare, Tupac: Resurrection, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!, a documentary on the Beastie Boys, and most recently Last Days of Left Eye which documented the last month of Lisa Lopes's life from the band TLC and N.W.A.: The World's Most Dangerous Group, featuring the narration of comedian Chris Rock, which chronicled the rise and fall of N.W.A.

VH1 endured criticism for Music Behind Bars, which mainly focuses on musicians in custody. Critics have claimed prisoners, mainly those convicted of murder, should not be entitled to any exposure, especially nationally.[7]

The channel aired Where Are They Now? from 1999 to 2002. It featured former celebrities and their current professional and personal statuses. Each episode was dedicated to a specific genre, ranging from past child stars to Aaron Spelling's notable productions, to controversial news figures.

Current era of VH1 (2003–present)

In 2003, the network changed its focus again, dropping "Music First" from its name, and introducing their new and current box logo. Having saturated its Behind The Music series (and spinoff BTM2, a 30-minute version that told the stories of current chart-toppers), gotten past the point of showing music videos on a regular basis, and endured a 35% ratings decline over the past several years, the network began to target the pop culture nostalgia market just like its sister MTV.[1][8] The network primarily plays reality shows now.

The network is currently working on four new reality projects, slated to run in spring 2010. They include a makeover series for women, a dating advice show for men, a documentary series about the deaths of several celebrities and a series that follows the lives of people at a ski resort in Vancouver, B.C.[9]

I Love the... series

In 2002, VH1 broadcast a ten-part series entitled I Love the '80s. The idea was taken from a BBC series, first broadcast in 2000,[10] in which current entertainers and pop-culture figures offered their take on the trends, events, and personalities of another decade. The success of VH1's I Love the '80's, coupled with the growing nostalgia for ever-more-recent times, led the network to create a parade of similarly-themed programs. These ranged from 2003's I Love the '70s, to further variants like I Love the 80s Strikes Back, I Love the '90s, and I Love the '90s: Part Deux. More recently, VH1 premiered I Love the '80s 3-D and I Love the '70s: Volume 2, along with the non-decade-based I Love the Holidays and I Love Toys.

The format of these shows has been repeated for the weekly program Best Week Ever. In a sketch on Fox's MADtv envisioning an as-yet fictitious "I Love the 00's" show, VH1 was referred to as "the bitter comics ragging on real celebrities" network.

Life imitated art on June 22 when VH1 premiered I Love the New Millennium focusing on the years 2000-2007.

The Greatest series

VH1 also produces its The Greatest series in which a similar format is used to countdown lists like "The 50 Sexiest Video Moments," "100 Greatest Songs of Rock 'N' Roll," "100 Greatest Songs from the Past 25 Years," "100 Greatest One-hit Wonders," and "100 Greatest Kid Stars." In 2001, Mark McGrath hosted VH1's miniseries "100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock 'N' Roll", which compiled a list of the moments in music history that changed its course and shook its foundations.[11] Recently in late December 2009, an updated series titled "100 Most Shocking Music Moments" aired on VH1.[12][13] In 2008 and early 2009 the channel premiered the "100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs," "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs," "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s," and "100 Greatest Songs of the 80s."

40 Most Awesomely Bad

In 2004, VH1 began this mini-series category with "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs...Ever." Additional series in this group include "40 Most Awesomely Bad Dirrty Songs...Ever,"[14] "40 Most Awesomely Bad Break-up Songs...Ever,"[15] "40 Most Awesomely Bad #1 Songs...Ever,"[16] "40 Most Awesomely Bad Metal Songs...Ever,"[17] and "40 Most Awesomely Bad Love Songs."[18]


VH1 also touts its Celebreality programming block of reality shows featuring celebrities, anchored by The Surreal Life, which mimics MTV's The Real World, instead placing celebrities from the past into a living environment.

The word "celebreality" is a portmanteau combining the words “celebrity” and “reality” and is generally used to describe reality TV shows in which celebrities participate as subjects. The term appears to have been coined by Michael Gross, writing for The Toronto Star on May 12, 1991. In his article, entitled “Celebrity’s New Face,” Mr. Gross used a hyphenated form of the word (“celeb-reality”) to describe the tendency of certain contemporary celebrities to downplay the traditional trappings of Hollywood glamour. “You could see the new celeb-reality on display at this year's Oscars,” wrote Gross. “It is Kathy Bates and Whoopi Goldberg, not Kim Basinger and Michelle Pfeiffer. It is Jeremy Irons in black tie and the sneakers he says keep his feet on the ground. It is Kevin Costner, fighting small, important battles, winning big, but reacting with modesty and going off to party privately. The new celebrities are human first, famous second.”

The next known citation of the word is by Joyce Millman, writing for The New York Times on January 5, 2003. In an article entitled, “Celebreality: The ‘Stars’ Are Elbowing Their Way In,” Ms. Millman wrote: “Celebreality, the junk genre du jour, turns the notion of reality TV upside down. Instead of real people acting like celebrities on shows like "Survivor," "Big Brother" and "The Bachelor," celebreality gives us celebrities acting like real people on shows like "The Osbournes," "The Anna Nicole Show" and "Celebrity Boot Camp." I'm using the term "celebrity" loosely here — we're not talking about Russell Crowe, Julia Roberts and Dame Judi Dench eating bugs and scrubbing latrines. No, the celebrities of celebreality are a motlier crew, like, well, Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil, the former rap superstar M. C. Hammer and the wee ex-Michael Jackson ornament Emmanuel ("Webster") Lewis. Those three will be setting up housekeeping together on Thursday in "The Surreal Life" on WB, a celebreality spin on MTV's "Real World." Not to be outdone, ABC sends a Baldwin brother (Stephen), a supermodel (Frederique) and a former "L.A. Law" star (Corbin Bernsen) to Hawaii for "Celebrity Mole Hawaii," beginning Wednesday.”

The Vh1 Celebreality block has also aired shows such as:

Hip-Hop and Rock Honors

Since 2004, VH1 has showed their appreciation for hip-hop and rock music by honoring pioneers and movements. Hip-hop musicians honored include Eazy-E, LL Cool J, 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., and Public Enemy. All of the shows have been taped in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. On May 25, 2006, Queen, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, and Kiss were the inaugural inductees into the VH1 Rock Honors in Las Vegas. The ceremony aired on VH1 six days later. In 2007, ZZ Top, Heart, Genesis and Ozzy Osbourne were inducted into the VH1 Rock Honors. 2008's sole Rock Honors inductees were The Who.

Other current trends

On July 1, 2007, VH1 and MHD, the high-definition music channel of MTV (now called Palladia), simulcast live the entire Concert for Diana from London, England, on the birthday of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales.[19]

Although VH1 has drastically reduced its emphasis on music, it does continue to play music videos (just like its sister network, MTV) from 4 a.m. until 11 a.m. ET. The overnight block was called Insomniac Music Theater until August 2005, when it was renamed Nocturnal State. As of the beginning of October 2008, Nocturnal State has been cut down to one hour, and Fresh: New Music has been supplanted by additional hours of Jump Start, thus meaning that VH1 now plays 7 hours of music daily.

Beyond VH1


VH1 HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of VH1. Only newer shows such as Rock of Love Bus, The T.O. Show and Brooke Knows Best air in full 16:9 aspect ratio HD on it however, and most other programs are shown in 4:3 aspect ratio with the video upconverted. The HD channel is available nationally on DirecTV, AT&T U-verse and Dish Network.

Sister channels in the U.S.

Like MTV and Nickelodeon before them, VH1 also launched spinoff digital networks as part of The Suite From MTV. Initially, four VH1 spinoff networks were formed. Others later joined the staple, including:

Vh1 megahits.png
  • VH1 MegaHits: A channel which played mostly top 40 adult contemporary videos from throughout VH1's history, from the 80's to the early years of the 21st Century. Due to low viewership, the network was discontinued. The satellite space was utilized by corporate parent MTV Networks to launch Gay & Lesbian centric network, Logo.
  • VH1 Soul: Classic and neo-soul music videos from yesterday and today.
  • VH1 Uno: A Spanish language channel which mostly consisted of music videos of Latin pop, rock, and traditional ballads, tropical, salsa and merengue music. Discontinued February 2, 2008 by MTV Networks to expand normal distribution of mtvU beyond college campuses.[20]

The Internet

VH1's online destination,, launched in the 1990s. In the 2000s, VH1 created VSPOT, a broadband video channel that followed the model of MTV Overdrive, containing the shows aired by VH1 and music videos. VSPOT was renamed to in late 2007.

VH1 around the world

As with other MTV channels, MTV Networks broadcasts international versions of VH1:

  • VH1 Australia: Since March (April for Optus customers) 2004, VH1 has been available in Australia on Foxtel, Optus Television and Austar. It is also available on the SelecTv pay tv platform. On May 1, 2010 Vh1 Australia will be re-branded as MTV Classic.
  • VH1 Brazil: The Portuguese-language version of VH1 was launched in Brazil on May 1, 2004. However, VH1 Soul had been available to digital cable subscribers since 2004. In 2007 VH1 Soul stopped being available in Brazil. In 2009 the version HD of VH1 was launched.
  • VH1 Denmark: The Danish version of VH1 was launched in Denmark on March 15, 2008.
  • VH1 Europe: VH1 Europe is the VH1 channel broadcast in the European continent as well as Northern Africa, South Africa and the Middle East.
  • VH1 Export: VH1 Export is the technical name used for the version of VH1 European available in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Levant territories broadcasting via satellite, exclusively from the Orbit Showtime pay-TV network. In Africa (on DStv) and Thailand, on UBC 33. The channel is exactly the same as VH1 European, but with different adverts.
  • VH1 Germany: During the mid-1990s, a German-language version of VH1 was broadcast, featuring more adult music than MTV, and using the original 1985 US logo. It proved unsuccessful and eventually had to make way for a non-stop music channel aimed at teenagers called MTV2 Pop. However, VH1 hasn't really disappeared from German television, since it's still available in its pan-European version.
  • VH1 India: In December 2004, MTV India and Zee-Turner teamed up to bring VH1 to India. In India, VH1 is a 24-hour pay channel that will cater to the 13–35 age group.
  • VH1 Indonesia: In Indonesia, VH1 programming also airs on MTV Indonesia at 4 until 8 pm, and on local terrestrial channels such as Jak-TV, Jakarta, STV Bandung, TV Borobudur, Semarang, TATV, Solo, and Makassar TV, Makassar (UHF21) and also a full link channel seen on satellite PALAPA C2.
  • VH1 Latin America: On April 1, 2004, VH1 Latin America joined MTV and Nickelodeon Latin America targeting audiences 25–49 years old. Until then, the VH1 main channel available for Latin America was the original US version. The Spanish-language channel is tailored for the market and feature a mix of music and entertainment with local and international-recording artists, as well as original programming.
  • VH1 Pakistan: Operated by ARY TV Network)[citation needed]
  • VH1 Polska: Launched (or rather renamed) on December 1, 2005. The channel is aimed at people in Poland over 25. The channel was formerly known as "MTV Classic" and (especially in its last months) was the same as present VH1, airing the same programs for the same target group.
  • VH1 Russia: VH1 Russia launched on December 2, 2005
  • VH1 UK: VH1 UK targets 25–44 years old, and has much of the same content as the main US channel. There has been two sister stations in the UK: VH1 Classic and the now axed channel VH2.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Becker, Anne (2008-05-03). "VH1 Hits a New High Note". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  2. ^ "Opening" by Philip Glass on VH-1's 'New Visions' at YouTube
  3. ^ "Legends: Episode List". Archived from the original on 2008-01-25.*/ 
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon (1998-04-16). "There Are Divas, and There Are Divas". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  5. ^ Freydkin, Donna (1999-04-16). "VH1's dueling divas belt it out for a good cause". Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  6. ^ Phil Gallo (October 3, 2004). "And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip Hop". Variety. 
  7. ^ Victims Protest VH1's 'Music Behind Bars' Show
  8. ^ Curtis, Bryan (2006-02-23). "VH1: The Surreal Network". Slate. Retrieved 2006-02-24. 
  9. ^ "VH1 announces four new shows". The Live Feed. Jan. 28, 2010. 
  10. ^ BBC - I love... series
  11. ^ 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock 'N' Roll
  12. ^ 100 Most Shocking Music Moments
  13. ^ Exclusive: VH1's '100 Most Shocking Music Moments' List
  14. ^ 40 Most Awesomely Bad Dirrty Songs...Ever
  15. ^ 40 Most Awesomely Bad Break-up Songs...Ever
  16. ^ 40 Most Awesomely Bad #1 Songs...Ever
  17. ^ 40 Most Awesomely Bad Metal Songs...Ever
  18. ^ 40 Most Awesomely Bad Love Songs
  19. ^ Concert for Diana|
  20. ^ MTV Networks discontinues VH1 Uno

External links

Simple English

VH1 (Video Hits One) is an American television network. It is a sister station to the groundbreaking MTV.

VH1 shows more of the classic videos, alongside chart-toppers, whereas MTV's focus is on the current hits. VH1 also shows You're Cut Off! on Mondays for 3 weeks and Wednesdays for 5 weeks starting June 09, 2010 (2010-06-09) - present. Casting has been renewed for a 2nd season.[1]

Other pages


  1. Juzwiak, Rich (26 July 2010). "Tell VH1 Producers Who Needs To Be Cut Off". VH1 Blog. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 

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