MTV Spring Break Flashback
Spring Break is just around the corner! Just because we’re not all school-aged, doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of this unofficial “holiday” or at least reminisce about the sun-filled glory days, right?
For those of a certain age, you may remember MTV’s Spring Break coverage. MTV’s Spring Break began in 1986, but it really took off in ‘90s, hosting a lively college-aged crowd and the hottest musical acts.
So to get you in that Spring Break spirit, we’re counting down our favorite performances from the golden age of MTV’s Spring Break coverage. Read on and relive these classic moments that defined the American youth music culture of the 1990s.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Knock Me Down (1990)
Here’s one MTV and RHCP probably both want to forget. The performance starts off pretty normal: the Peppers doing their funk-punk thing, Anthony Kiedis rocks a progressive ensemble of board shorts, arm warmers, and leather officer’s cap, and the day-glo-clad kids all seem to be having a good time. But a couple minutes in, John Frusciante and Chad Smith start smashing equipment and walking off stage, apparently quite miffed about being forced to do a lip-synced performance. How no one in the crowd noticed this is beyond us, Kiedis’ double-tracked vocals being quite prominent in the mix, but heck, they don’t even seem to notice when half the band just walks off stage.
TLC – What About Your Friends (1991)
TLC were dope for every second of their career, and this performance at the MTV Spring Break ’91 is no exception. First appreciate the amount of work that had to go into designing those oversized outfits, then watch T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli bring the house down on a wholly undeserving crowd. Seriously, how can that mess of drunken college kids be so completely lifeless in the face of such greatness?
A Tribe Called Quest Ft. Leaders of the New School – Scenario (1992)
A Tribe Called Quest. Leaders of the New School. 1992. Does anything more need to be said? In case you need more convincing, let me rattle off some of the luminaries sharing the stage in this incredible clip: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Charlie Brown, and the inimitable Busta Rhymes, all together in the creative heights of their careers. Thankfully, the presence of greatness is not lost on the crowd, which is going absolutely nuts to the sounds of the boom-bap.
Radiohead – Creep (1993)
Nearly a decade into their Spring Break tenure and yet MTV still hadn’t ironed out all the kinks in the formula. Someone had the bright idea to have Radiohead come down to Florida to play their downer-rock anthem “Creep” for a bunch of preppy college kids, and apparently no one had the forethought to realize how counter-intuitive that was. Enjoy this incredible footage of a livid Thom Yorke (looking like a modern-day Macaulay Culkin) and crew doing what they do best, despite their obvious displeasure with the overly-commercialized setting.
Salt-N-Pepa – Whatta Man (1994)
If this doesn’t capture the golden age of MTV, we don’t know what does. Salt-N-Pepa were at the height of their career in 1994, bringing the boom-bap to the people as if all-denim outfits were going out of style (they were, thankfully).
The Notorious B.I.G. – Juicy (1995)
Classic footage right here: Biggie doing his thing in front of a crew of shirtless dudes on a floating stage in the middle of Lake Havasu. There’s something about Big’s chill vibes that feels equally at home on the backdrop of the Arizona canyons as it does in a Brooklyn nightclub.
No Doubt – Just a Girl (1996)
The Nineties were a magical time when ska-punk bands somehow got air-play on the biggest new music platform in the world. What a time to be alive! Relive that bygone era with this prime artifact of the times then try not to go crazy wondering what kind of deal with the devil Gwen Stefani made to not have aged since this performance.
Snoop Dogg Ft. Tha Dogg Pound – Snoop’s Upside Ya Head (1997)
MTV really had a knack for getting some of the best hip-hop artists to perform at these events. Here we see everyone’s favorite LBC native Snoop Dogg, right on the cusp of his explosion to super-stardom, with hype support provided by the criminally underrated duo Tha Dogg Pound. These dudes were on fire that night, but I also have to make a special mention of Aaliyah for her incredible performance that year as well.
Orgy – Blue Monday (1998)
MTV’s Spring Break events were invariably a melding of disparate worlds, and nowhere was this more apparent than in their recurring “Fashionably Loud” segments, in which supermodels would parade across the stage in front of live performances by popular artists. So in 1998 we got the Orgy x Jean Paul Gaultier collab the world was certainly not ready for.
Eminem – My Name Is (1999)
Well before he was known as the Rap God, an upcoming Eminem made a name for himself with his sense of humor and occasionally goofy cadences he would throw into his otherwise-dark lyrics. And when he was asked to perform his breakout hit “My Name Is” for MTV’s Spring Break ’99, he made the most of that opportunity by letting his pants fall to his ankles multiple times during his set. Don’t be upset if the point of the commentary is lost on you: you’re not alone.
Blink-182 – Dammit (2000)
It goes without saying that no single band more perfectly encapsulates that teenage-hormonal-angst-in-musical-form that is pop-punk than Blink-182. Here’s Mark, Tom, and Travis in the prime of their careers performing their classic growing-pains anthem “Dammit,” before their long, dark descent into the world of conspiracy theories, emo haircuts, and (gasp!) adulthood.