Thank you Atria Books via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!
Admittedly I was only five when the VJs first hit the tube; however, I fondly remember when MTV was so much more than a “cruel joke” (as stated by Gavin Edwards in the Intro). The VJs were superstars to me and my friends and the videos were our picture into the lives of the rockstars we so lovingly wanted to be like – we’d dance and sing along all day! So imagine my excitement when the opportunity arose to read VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTVs First Wave! I mean, wow! Get to know the first set of VJs up close and personal while also getting some backstage dish on all the superstars they met as well? Heck yes, sign me up.
The book is set up in a VH1: Behind the Scenes type format. Each chapter has a theme and the VJs each have a section (or several) to discuss the theme at hand whether it be experience, a specific superstar, or their thoughts on a particular co-star/VJ. I found the format a bit choppy and impersonal – I never really felt the excited connectedness I was craving with these pioneers of music video. The formatting is really better fit for TV.
There were definitely some inside scoops that made the book fun to read, like Nina’s true feelings and motives behind being photographed for Playboy, J.J.’s insecurity with his age (even though he was clearly one of the most accepted in the industry right from the beginning), and Mark’s and Allan’s forays into drugs alongside some of their rockstar interviewees. Additionally, seeing the pay differences between the VJs and the way they changed over the years was very interesting, yet not surprising.
While I enjoyed getting to know the original VJs a little better (hearing how each met their prospective spouses and how they each handled leaving the show were interesting sections), the book itself came off feeling sterile and disconnected. I was also disappointed and surprised at the lack of pictures. I thought maybe some still shots of some of the more memorable guests on set with the VJs or maybe of the VJs palling together – anything that would have made the book a more memorable and personable experience.
I landed on 2.5 stars for this one because I found the info enjoyable, but had to go into “skim” mode to finish the book.
Purchase your copy here (from Rainy Day Books)
I was provided an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.