MTV Icon

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The MTV Icon series logo. MTV Icon logo.jpg
The MTV Icon series logo.

MTV Icon was a series of annual television specials produced by MTV between 2001 and 2004, each paying homage to a musical artist or band selected as a cultural icon, in a format similar to the network's annual Video Music Awards and Movie Awards events. A live audience of musicians, celebrities, and fans would view a biographical film depicting the career of that year's chosen icon, interspersed by celebrity introductions and live performances of popular artists playing cover versions of the icon's songs. The iconic artist would then accept an award and perform a live set of their own at the close of the show. The series celebrated Janet Jackson in 2001, Aerosmith in 2002, Metallica in 2003, and The Cure in 2004.

A television special is a stand-alone television show which temporarily interrupts episodic programming normally scheduled for a given time slot. Specials have been produced which provide a full range of entertainment and informational value available via the television medium, in various formats, and in any viewing lengths.

MTV American pay television channel

MTV is an American pay television channel that serves as the flagship property of owner Viacom Media Networks and is headquartered in New York City. The channel was launched on August 1, 1981, and originally aired music videos as guided by television personalities known as "video jockeys" (VJs). At first, MTV's main target demographic was young adults, but today it is primarily teenagers, particularly high school and college students.

Homage is a show or demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but often by some more oblique reference, artistic or poetic. The term is often used in the arts for where one author or artist shows respect to another by allusion or imitation; this is often pronounced like the French hommage.


2001: Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson was the first artist to be named an "MTV Icon". Janet Jackson 4.jpg
Janet Jackson was the first artist to be named an "MTV Icon".

Pop artist Janet Jackson was selected as MTV's inaugural Icon, in an event held in Los Angeles. [1] Performers at the ceremony included 'N Sync, Pink, Usher, Outkast, Destiny's Child, Macy Gray, Mýa, and Buckcherry. [1] Celebrity presenters included Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, Aaliyah, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. [1] Jackson herself concluded the event with a performance of her hit single "All for You". [1] The event was the highest rated television show of the night, ahead of all broadcast and cable programs among the youth demographic. [2]
MTV decided to develop the special as an annual franchise for other artists following the event's success. [2]

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.

Janet Jackson American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer.

Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress. A prominent figure in popular music, she is known for sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, and elaborate stage shows.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Outkast "Ms. Jackson"
Destiny's Child "Let's Wait Awhile"
Macy Gray "Love Will Never Do (Without You)"
'N Sync "That's the Way Love Goes"
Pink, Usher, and Mýa medley of "Miss You Much", "Alright", "The Pleasure Principle", "If", and "Rhythm Nation"
Buckcherry "Nasty"
Janet Jackson "All for You"

2002: Aerosmith

Aerosmith was chosen as the 2002 Icon. Aerosmith B.jpg
Aerosmith was chosen as the 2002 Icon.

In 2002 hard rock band Aerosmith was chosen as MTV's Icon. [3] MTV Entertainment President Brian Graden remarked that "Aerosmith is one of those very few bands whose influence pre-dates and spans the entire history of MTV. They have become a fixture at the network, and we are thrilled to be able to honor them in this fashion for their continuing contributions to music and music video." [3] The event began with the previous year's icon Janet Jackson delivering a testimonial about the band, and featured performances by The X-Ecutioners, Nelly, Ja Rule, DJ Clue, Sum 41, Pink, Shakira, Kid Rock, Train, and Papa Roach, concluding with a five-song set by Aerosmith themselves. [3]

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

Aerosmith American rock band

Aerosmith is an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. The group consists of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums), and Brad Whitford (guitar). Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop rock, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many subsequent rock artists. They are sometimes referred to as "the Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band".

Testimonial written or spoken statement extolling the virtue of a product or person

In promotion and of advertising, a testimonial or show consists of a person's written or spoken statement extolling the virtue of a product. The term "testimonial" most commonly applies to the sales-pitches attributed to ordinary citizens, whereas the word "endorsement" usually applies to pitches by celebrities. Testimonials can be part of communal marketing. Sometimes, the cartoon character can be a testimonial in a commercial.

The X-Ecutioners medley of "Sweet Emotion", "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Love in an Elevator", and "Walk This Way"
Nelly, Ja Rule, DJ Clue, and Sum 41 "Walk This Way"
Pink "Janie's Got a Gun"
Shakira "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)"
Kid Rock medley of "Mama Kin" and "Last Child"
Train "Dream On"
Papa Roach "Sweet Emotion"
Aerosmith "Movin' Out", "Toys in the Attic", "Cryin'", "Girls of Summer", and "Train Kept A-Rollin'"

2003: Metallica

Metallica's performance on MTV Icon was their first television appearance with new bassist Robert Trujillo (left). Metallica live London crop.jpg
Metallica's performance on MTV Icon was their first television appearance with new bassist Robert Trujillo (left).

Heavy metal band Metallica was selected as MTV's Icon for 2003, with the event held in Universal City, California. [4] It featured performances by Sum 41, Staind, Avril Lavigne, Snoop Dogg, Korn, and Limp Bizkit, as well as celebrity appearances by Rob Zombie, Lisa Marie Presley, Jim Breuer, Sean Penn, and others. [4] The special concluded with Metallica performing a medley of songs from their early albums, spanning 1983 to 1991, followed by their most recent single, "Frantic". It was their first television appearance with bassist Robert Trujillo, who had joined the band just a few months prior. [4] MTV set up a website to promote the special, featuring testimonials by celebrities and musicians including Kelly Osbourne, Godsmack's Sully Erna, Ja Rule, and Linkin Park's Dave "Phoenix" Farrell and Chester Bennington. [5]

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Universal City, California Unincorporated area in California

Universal City is an unincorporated area within the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Approximately 415 acres within and around the surrounding area is the property of Universal Pictures, one of the five major film studios in the United States: about 70 percent of the studio's property is inside this unincorporated area, while the remaining 30 percent is within the Los Angeles city limits.

Sum 41 medley of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Enter Sandman", and "Master of Puppets"
Staind "Nothing Else Matters"
Avril Lavigne "Fuel"
Snoop Dogg "Sad but True"
Korn "One"
Limp Bizkit "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"
Metallica medley of "Hit the Lights", "Enter Sandman", "Blackened", "Creeping Death", and "Battery"; "Frantic"

2004: The Cure

The Cure were the fourth and final act to be named an MTV Icon. The Cure live 2004.jpg
The Cure were the fourth and final act to be named an MTV Icon.

The 2004 MTV Icon special was held at the Old Billingsgate Market in London to a crowd of over 1,000 and named post-punk/gothic rock band The Cure as the icon of the year. [6] Marilyn Manson hosted the event, which featured Blink-182, AFI, Razorlight, and Deftones performing cover versions of Cure songs. [6] Cure frontman Robert Smith joined Blink-182 onstage to perform "All of This", a song he had sung on for their eponymously titled 2003 album. [6] During set changes the audience were shown many of the band's music videos from throughout their career. [6] The Cure themselves closed the show by performing a number of songs including "Friday I'm in Love". [6] Their performances of "Taking Off", and "10:15 Saturday Night" were selected to be shown in the final broadcast, representing bookends of their career ("Taking Off" being their most recent single while "10:15 Saturday Night" was the first track on their 1979 debut album). Tim Weber of BBC News remarked of the performance that "from the first riff it was obvious that they have managed to haul their music firmly into the 21st century. The Cure may still be the masters of mourning, but their performance had an edge and drive that would do any nu metal band proud. Even old favourites like 'Friday I'm in Love' were—almost—purged of the popcorn sound of the New Wave 1980s." [6] MTV Icon: The Cure premiered October 31, 2004, on MTV2. [6]

Old Billingsgate Market events venue and former market in London

Old Billingsgate Market is the name given to what is now a hospitality and events venue in the City of London, based in the Victorian building that was originally Billingsgate Fish Market, the world's largest fish market in the 19th century.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Post-punk is a broad type of rock music that emerged from the punk movement of the 1970s, in which artists departed from the simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock to adopt a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and diverse influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with sources including electronic music and black styles like dub, funk, and disco; novel recording and production techniques; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. These communities produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.

Blink-182 "A Letter to Elise", "All of This" (with Robert Smith)
AFI "Just Like Heaven"
Razorlight "Boys Don't Cry"
Deftones "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep"
The Cure "Friday I'm in Love", "Taking Off", and "10:15 Saturday Night"

Related Research Articles

MTV Europe Music Award award

An MTV Europe Music Award is an award presented by Viacom International Media Networks to honour artists and music in pop culture. It was originally conceived as an alternative to the MTV Video Music Awards, which are hosted annually in the United States. The Europe Music Awards are held every year in a different country; it has been hosted mostly in the United Kingdom. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest.

<i>All for You</i> (Janet Jackson album) album by Janet Jackson

All for You is the seventh studio album by American singer Janet Jackson. Released on April 24, 2001 by Virgin Records America, its development and theme was rooted in Jackson's separation from husband René Elizondo, Jr, getting to know what dating is like for the first time. Unlike The Velvet Rope, which saw Jackson tackling darker issues such as domestic violence and depression, All for You showcased a mix of upbeat dance-pop and slow R&B sounds, incorporating rock, disco, and funk, as well as soft rock and Oriental music. Its lyrics focus on passion, romance, and intercourse, also discussing themes of betrayal and deceit. The explicit language and sexual content of several songs drew media controversy, causing the album to be banned in several countries.

<i>Damita Jo</i> (album) 2004 album by Janet Jackson

Damita Jo is the eighth studio album by American recording artist Janet Jackson. It was released on March 30, 2004, by Virgin Records. The album takes its title from Jackson's middle name. Its music incorporates pop rock, electro, house, and hip hop styles, in addition to R&B. Its concept is based on Jackson's alternate personalities; exploring themes involving intimacy, monogamy, love, and dance. Its production is derived from producers including Dallas Austin, Cathy Dennis, Scott Storch, BAG & Arnthor, Arnthor Birgisson, Rich Harrison, Télépopmusik, Just Blaze, and Kanye West; in addition to Jackson and Jam & Lewis.

Miss You Much Janet Jackson song

"Miss You Much" is a song recorded by American singer Janet Jackson, released as the lead single from her fourth studio album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). The single spent four weeks at number-one on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest running number-one single of 1989. "Miss You Much" was the second-best selling single of 1989 and the biggest radio airplay song of the year. Billboard later listed "Miss You Much" as Janet Jackson's all-time biggest Hot 100 single. It is Jackson's third longest running number-one single, behind "That's the Way Love Goes" (1993) and "All for You" (2001), which spent eight and seven weeks, respectively, at number-one.

Love Will Never Do (Without You) single

"Love Will Never Do " is a song recorded by American singer Janet Jackson, recorded for her fourth studio album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). It was written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song was released as the seventh single from the album on October 2, 1990, by A&M Records. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week and the Radio & Records airplay chart for three weeks.

Thats the Way Love Goes (Janet Jackson song) single

"That's the Way Love Goes" is a song by American singer Janet Jackson from her fifth album Janet (1993). The song was released on April 20, 1993, as the lead single from the Janet album. Written and produced by Jackson and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the song's themes of romantic lust saw Jackson transitioning to sensual territory, considered a shocking contrast to her previous releases among critics and the public. The song's slow tempo fused R&B, pop, funk and soul music with flourishes of downtempo and hip hop music. It received positive reviews from contemporary music critics, who praised it as "iconic", "hypnotic", and an "extravaganza" for its production and vocals.

All for You (Janet Jackson song) song by Janet Jackson

"All for You" is a song by American singer Janet Jackson, released as the lead single from her seventh studio album All for You (2001). Written and produced by Jackson and Jam and Lewis, "All for You" is a dance-pop song about flirting with someone on the dance floor. It received positive reviews from critics and was noted for its transition to a brighter and more optimistic sound from the darker tone of the singer's previous album The Velvet Rope.

Dream On (Aerosmith song) 1973 single by Aerosmith

"Dream On" is a power ballad by Aerosmith from their 1973 debut album, Aerosmith. Written by lead singer Steven Tyler, this song was their first major hit and became a classic rock radio staple. Released in June 1973, it peaked at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 but hit big in the band's native Boston, where it was the number one single of the year on WBZ-FM, number five for the year on WRKO and number 16 on WMEX (AM). The song received immediate heavy airplay too on the former WVBF (FM), often showing up in the #1 position on "The Top Five At Five" in June 1973.

Nothing (Janet Jackson song) song by Janet Jackson

"Nothing" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Janet Jackson. It was released on March 23, 2010 by A&M Records and So So Def Recordings as a soundtrack single from the film Why Did I Get Married Too?, which starred Jackson. The song was later included on Jackson's compilation album Icon: Number Ones. It was written by Jackson, Johntá Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox and Jermaine Dupri and produced by Jackson, Cox, and Dupri. Initially titled "Trust in Me", the song was written about the different character's personas and emotions in the film.

The Velvet Rope Tour concert tour

The Velvet Rope Tour was the third concert tour by American recording artist Janet Jackson. Launched in support of her sixth studio album The Velvet Rope (1997), the tour visited Europe, North America, Japan, New Zealand, Africa, and Australia. Jackson was inspired to create an autobiographical show using elements of Broadway theatre, portraying her struggle with depression and self-esteem. The tour's stage production was developed as a storybook setting, allowing spectators to cross beyond her "velvet rope" and experience her life story through the evolution of her musical career. It consists of twenty-six songs, several band interludes, and intense choreography along with nine costume changes and four sets. Jackson depicts themes such as burlesque and domestic violence among the show's complex production of pyrotechnics and theatrics.

Janet World Tour

Janet World Tour was the second concert tour by American singer, songwriter and dancer Janet Jackson. It was launched in support of her fifth studio album Janet (1993). It began in November 1993 and continued through May 1995, the tour ending with a 3-show residency at Wembley Arena. Concerts were held in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

United We Stand: What More Can I Give was a benefit concert led by Michael Jackson held on October 21, 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The concert was the third major concert held in tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks. The other two were held in New York City. The special premiered on ABC on Thursday, November 1, 2001.

2000 MTV Video Music Awards award ceremony

The 2000 MTV Video Music Awards aired live on September 7, 2000, honoring the best music videos from June 12, 1999, to June 9, 2000. The show was hosted by Marlon and Shawn Wayans at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

<i>Number Ones</i> (Janet Jackson album) 2009 greatest hits album by Janet Jackson

Number Ones is the second greatest hits album by American recording artist Janet Jackson, released on November 17, 2009, by Interscope Geffen A&M Records and Universal Music Enterprises. The double-disc album is composed of 33 of her number-one hit singles spanning various music charts across the globe.

Number Ones, Up Close and Personal Sixth concert tour by Janet Jackson

Number Ones, Up Close and Personal World Tour was the sixth concert tour by American recording artist Janet Jackson. It showcased her sophomore compilation album, Number Ones and visited Asia, North America, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Jackson traveled to thirty-five different cities selected by fans, one chosen for each of her number one hits. The tour took an organic and intimate approach, excluding the elaborate theatrics and pyrotechnics her concerts have become infamous for, focusing on her musicality and choreography. Jackson explained the tour to be "different from anything I have ever done", adding, "These concerts are not about special effects. This is a love affair between me and those of you who have supported me and my work for all these years." Jackson dedicated an individual song to the audience during every show to commemorate each city.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Murphy, Gayl (2001-03-12). "MTV Names Janet Jackson an Icon". ABC News . Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  2. 1 2 "mtv:ICON turns out top rating - Broadcasting & Cable". Broadcasting & Cable . Broadcasting & Cable Staff. 2001-03-15. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  3. 1 2 3 "Aerosmith Is MTV's Newest 'Icon'". Billboard . 2002-03-19. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  4. 1 2 3 "MTV Icon: Metallica". MTV . Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  5. "MTV Icon: Metallica: Celebrity Tributes". MTV . Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Weber, Tim (2004-09-20). "The Cure take the icon test". BBC News . Retrieved 2009-12-15.