Great Job, Internet!: Pop-Up Video brought snark and smarts to music videos in 1996

When VH1 debuted in 1985, it seemed like the duller, more responsible sibling of bad boy MTV. But the basic cable music network started establishing its own savvy identity in the 1990s thanks to clever original programming like Pop-Up Video, which first aired on October 27, 1996. By that time, music videos had long since lost their novelty appeal, but series creators Tad Low and Woody Thompson made them entertaining again by adding onscreen bubbles containing behind-the-scenes information, random fun facts, and snarky asides. As Thompson revealed in a 2015 interview with People, VH1 was originally skeptical: “Wait, you’re going to have people read TV?” But the series quickly became a hit, even reigning as the network’s top-rated show until Behind The Music came along. It ran until 2002, with a revival in 2011-12.

At its best, Pop-Up Video could make just about anything more enjoyable:

In retrospect …

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