Along with Yo! MTV Raps, The State, the first Los Angeles season of Real World and McCarthy-era Singled Out, 120 Minutes (and its companion show Alternative Nation) was one of our most beloved series in the history of MTV. For two hours, hence the name of the show, 120 Minutes would showcase the best music videos on the outer fringes of straight rock: In 1986, when it debuted, the show focused on new wave artists; by the '90s, it was debuting Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," hosting Radiohead performances and becoming a rite of passage for an alternative rock band. In the days before the Internet and music blogs, it was an indispensable source for underground music.
After transitioning to MTV2, 120 Minutes left airwaves completely in 2003 as MTV re-branded itself as a reality TV machine with Laguna Beach and Real World Road Rules Challenges, but just as MTV resurrected Beavis & Butt-head for its prime-time schedule, the network announced today that 120 Minutes will also return later this year to televisions and will debut this Friday on the MTV Hive site. That's right, MTV (really MTV2, but still!) will actually play music again. To really cement that glory days feeling, Matt Pinfield, who hosted the program back in 1995, will return once again as 120 Minutes' VJ.
Since the definition of "alternative rock" has changed immensely since the 120 Minutes era -- indie rock is its closest comparable -- it remains unseen what videos the show will program, whether they'll return to the format of promoting up-and-coming acts or shine the spotlight on formerly up-and-coming acts that are now superstars like Green Day and Foo Fighters, or maybe a combination of both. Either way, we're just happy alt-rock is back on MTV (or MTV2).