MTV was launched 30 years ago today. Here are some of the network's highlights, including awards disasters, Nirvana's Unplugged performance, reality TV hell and more
30. MTV launches to the sound (and sights) of Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star
Given MTV's interest in "reality" TV shows such as The Hills and Jersey Shore, and the rise of digital radio stations, the message here sounds ironic now ? but in 1981, this was an unequivocal opening statement.
29. Lock up your children, America, here are Guns N' Roses
MTV's nascent Video Music awards had previously hosted well-received turns by Whitney Houston and Madonna, but in 1988 the ceremony showcased a nastier strain of American youth culture.
28. Britney Spears presents Michael Jackson with his, er, "artist of the millennium" award
Presented with a birthday gong at the VMAs, Jackson gets the wrong end of Britney Spears's introduction, and thinks he has been pronounced artist of the millennium.
27. The 2000 Video Music awards are invaded by an army of Eminems
Marshall Mathers at the peak of his powers, storming the stage with hundreds of Eminem lookalikes to deliver a one-two punch of his trademark angst.
26. The Beastie Boys bring cop-show chic to punk-rock hip-hop
Reconciling their reputation as bratty Bad Brains-loving hardcore geeks and ultra-deft MCs, the Beasties drop Sabotage at the 1994 VMAs.
25. Alice in Chains bare their acoustic souls
While Alice in Chains' MTV Unplugged set in 1996 didn't have the gravitas of Nirvana's, in retrospect, watching the fragile Layne Staley howl his way through stripped-to-the-nerves renditions of the band's doom-hymns is every bit as touching, given the singer's death a few years later. Nirvana's set may be more influential, but Alice in Chains' rattling, haunted blues is the superior acoustic grunge.
24. Kanye trials a dry run of that stage invasion
Kanye West loses out in the best music video gong to some French house dudes at the 2006 MTV Europe awards. He does not take it well.
23. Yo! MTV Raps
Although cynicism around 90s MTV shows such as The Real World hardened quickly, programmes catering to niche interests, including 120 Minutes and, particularly, Yo! MTV Raps, are still remembered fondly.
22. Faith No More shed their made-for-MTV image
Faith No More's pop-rap-metal anthem Epic found a natural home on MTV. By 1992, though, frontman Mike Patton's erratic character drove the band somewhere darker and stranger.
21. MTV Cribs
Launched in 2000, Cribs was emblematic of MTV's shift from playlisting music videos to programming aspirational pseudo-reality TV.
20. Justin Timberlake, Sean William Scott and Will Ferrell enter The Matrix
Pre-Funny or Die, the VMAs had the biggest, funniest names at their disposal for big-budget spoofs of Hollywood cash cows.
19. Jack Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar spoof The Lord of the Rings
Yep, this time with Hobbits.
18. Celebrity Deathmatch
A big, dumb cartoon explosion of a show aimed at adolescent pop-culture junkies.
17. Thurston Moore interviews Beck, confuses world
No one could have guessed from this awkward, insolent, shoe-throwing 1993 interview that Beck would go on to produce Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore's solo album in 2010.
16. Beavis and Butt-head
Forget the Real World, Mike Judge's crude, ugly depiction of two teenage metalheads offering a running commentary on the worst MTV had to offer was real breaking-the-fourth-wall, turning-the-camera-on-the-audience TV.
15. Lauryn Hill, unplugged and at her most exposed The last, brilliant hurrah from Lauryn Hill before she disappeared into self-imposed exile and myth-making. The soul singer's 2002 Unplugged set was a mix of meandering monologue and unreleased material ? just scrapes of acoustic guitar and Hill's raspy, cracking-with-emotion voice.
14. The Osbournes creates fly-on-the-wall celebrity TV
An aggressive, ruthless marketing of Brand Osbourne that, for better or worse, broke the mould in how celebrities approached selling themselves to their audience.
13. Courtney Love v Madonna
This drunken collision at the 1995 VMAs was a symbolic passing of the torch. Former MTV controversy queen Madonna is being demurely interviewed by Kurt Loder on her recent collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, when a ravaged Courtney descends.
12. The Sifl and Olly Show
Before United States of Whatever made Liam Lynch into a one-hit wonder, the director and sometime musician made this strange little sock puppet show. The Sifl and Olly Show is a classic example of the smart, surreal comedy programmes MTV nurtured.
Concerned that the raging teenage male hormones of Beavis and Butthead might exclude some, MTV execs requested Mike Judge include a female character in the show to whom women might relate. That character, Daria, got her own spin-off series in 1997. Sometimes too droll and knowing for its own good, Daria nevertheless became the equal of B&B for sheer nerdy cult appeal.
9. Nirvana take American punk rock mainstream
This exuberant 1992 trashing of Nevermind standard Lithium culminates in Krist Novoselic nearly knocking himself unconscious with his bass, Kurt Cobain demolishing every piece of equipment on stage and Dave Grohl obliquely taunting Axl Rose.
8. Gorillaz preview the live music experience of the next century
Arguably the cartoon band's finest moment: 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russell arrive on stage at the 2005 EMAs, as honest-to-God 3D holograms, playing a version of Feel Good Inc with a non-holographic De La Soul.
7. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Madonna
In the same year that Russian faux-lesbian teenagers tATu performed at the VMAs, Madonna supposedly misbehaves with Christina and Britney. A bit silly, really.
6. Jersey Shore
Looking for a less blatantly contrived follow-up to The Hills, MTV launched Jersey Shore, a "documentary" following young Italian-Americans that many groups accused of racial insensitivity.
5. "I want my MTV ?"
Dire Straits' Money for Nothing was the first video aired on MTV Europe when it launched on 1 August 1987. Full of references to the channel, Mark Knopfler's lyrics were partly transcribed from a conversation he overheard between two New York appliance store clerks watching Motley Crue on MTV.
Although the Jackass series ran for less than two years, it left an indelible scar on the output of the channel. It stopped being funny pretty quickly, but Jackass knew exactly which demographic was tuning into the nu-metal-loving MTV in 2000.
3. The ascension of Lady Gaga
Yet another VMA performance, this one in 2009 establishing Lady Gaga as Madonna made over by the Knife.
2. Nirvana Unplugged in New York
With everyone from the Cure to LL Cool J turning in classic sets, Unplugged has been one of MTV's most reliable and enduring formats. The humble, poignant farewell from Kurt that was Nirvana's contribution remains MTV's most-loved piece of programming.
1. Kanye West v Taylor Swift
In which the world's most powerful male pop star forever crowns himself King of the Douchebags.