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Behind the Music is a documentary television series on VH1. Each episode profiles and interviews a popular musical artist or group. The program examines the beginning of their career, their road to success, and the hardships they may have encountered.
|Behind the Music|
|Also known as||VH1's Behind the Music|
|Created by||Jeff Gaspin|
|Narrated by||Jim Forbes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||16|
|No. of episodes||252|
|Executive producers||Gay Rosenthal|
|Running time||60–90 minutes|
|Production companies||Gay Rosenthal Productions|
Paramount Television (select episodes)
ViacomCBS Networks International
|Distributor||ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks|
|Original network||VH1 (1997–2014)|
|Original release||August 17, 1997 –|
In 2021, it was announced that the series would be rebooted by Paramount+, which premiered on July 29, 2021.
Each show focuses on a musician or musical group, documenting both the successes of the musicians and the problems they faced during their careers. Except for the first two episodes (which focused on Milli Vanilli and M.C. Hammer), all programs are narrated by Jim Forbes. Forbes was later used to narrate the Milli Vanilli episode when it was modified to include the death of Rob Pilatus. The UK airings of the episodes focusing on Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith and Genesis were narrated by Mary Anne Hobbs while Forbes narrated the US airings.
VH1's criterion for choosing the musicians who appear on the show is, in many cases, to profile those who are no longer in the music industry, or were moderately significant in rock history (although many are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame such as Neil Diamond, The Police, Metallica, AC/DC, Aerosmith among others). This is as opposed to VH1's other biography show, VH1's Legends, which profiles musicians that have been very significant to the industry. However, there are some artists that were profiled on both Behind The Music and Legends, including Tina Turner, Elton John, The Who (although their Behind the Music exclusively focused on their drummer Keith Moon), and John Lennon (although Behind The Music exclusively focused on the months and days leading to his murder in 1980).
While being interviewed by Rolling Stone in October 2000, co-creator and executive producer Gay Rosenthal explained "Jeff Gaspin, who’s the executive vice president of VH1, and I were at lunch, and we said, 'Whatever happened to Milli Vanilli?' I said, 'I don’t know, but why don’t you let me take the ball and run with it, and let me see what I can find out?' Milli Vanilli was hard. Nobody knew where they were. I had to be a private eye. I got a list of addresses where Fabrice had lived and sent letters to every address. Two weeks later, I got a call from Fabrice's manager. And then I spent a good two months with them – having dinner, having them at my house – before they agreed to do it. They didn't know if they wanted to relive the story, but I said, 'Listen, no one has heard your story from you. This will be a great opportunity to set the record straight.'" "When we saw it in the edit room, we thought we had something special. The stories were working, and the series was green-lit." Rosenthal later stated in an August 1999 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Spin-offs and revivalEdit
Another episode of Behind the Music on KISS was re-christened KISS: Beyond the Makeup in July 2001 (which was two hours in length). This featured Matt Pinfield, formerly of MTV's 120 Minutes, as narrator instead of Jim Forbes.
A short-lived half-hour spin-off series titled BTM2 (short for Behind the Music 2), chronicled the careers of newer upcoming artists.
A spin-off titled Behind the Music: Remastered on VH1 Classic airs the updated original episodes with new interviews, footage, and the later half of the artist's career. The series also included two original episodes on Deep Purple and Motörhead.
In September 2020, a spin-off known as MTV's Behind the Music: The Top 40 was announced for Paramount+, which was to feature a countdown of the 40 "biggest artists of all-time". In March 2021, it was revealed via a promo aired during the Grammy Awards that the spin-off would instead be positioned as a full reboot of Behind the Music, seven years after the last episode had aired on July 16, 2014. In May 2021, it was announced that the revival would premiere on July 29, 2021 with two episodes.
The following is a list of artists who have appeared in episodes of the series:
- 50 Cent (revisited in 2013)
- Aaliyah (revisited in 2012)
- Christina Aguilera
- Tori Amos (BTM2)
- The Animals
- Anthrax (remastered in 2011)
- Backstreet Boys
- Bad Company (remastered in 2013)
- The Bangles
- Barenaked Ladies
- Fantasia Barrino
- Bay City Rollers
- Beck (BTM2)
- Pat Benatar (remastered in 2011)
- The Black Crowes
- Mary J. Blige
- Blind Melon
- Blondie (remastered in 2012)
- Blues Traveler
- Bon Jovi
- Sonny Bono
- Boyz II Men
- Toni Braxton
- Meredith Brooks (BTM2)
- Bobby Brown
- Lindsey Buckingham
- Bush (BTM2)
- Glen Campbell
- Mariah Carey
- The Carpenters
- David Cassidy
- Harry Chapin
- Joe Cocker
- Natalie Cole
- Paula Cole (BTM2)
- Sean Combs
- Alice Cooper (remastered in 2010)
- Counting Crows (BTM2)
- Jim Croce
- David Crosby
- Sheryl Crow
- The Cult
- Deep Purple (second original Behind the Music: Remastered episode)
- Def Leppard (remastered in 2010)
- John Denver
- Depeche Mode
- Neil Diamond
- Celine Dion
- Dixie Chicks (BTM2)
- Snoop Dogg
- The Doobie Brothers
- Dr. Dre
- Duran Duran (remastered in 2010 & 2021)
- Missy Elliott
- Gloria Estefan
- Melissa Etheridge
- Marianne Faithfull
- Fat Joe
- Fleetwood Mac (remastered in 2010)
- Foreigner (remastered in 2013)
- Peter Frampton
- Alan Freed
- The Game
- Leif Garrett (remastered in 2010)
- Gloria Gaynor
- Genesis (remastered in 2010)
- Boy George & Culture Club (remastered in 2010)
- Andy Gibb
- The Go-Go's (remastered in 2012)
- Goo Goo Dolls
- Grand Funk Railroad
- Green Day (remastered in 2010)
- Guns N' Roses
- Gym Class Heroes
- Hall & Oates (remastered in 2010)
- Geri Halliwell (BTM2)
- MC Hammer
- Heart (remastered in 2010)
- Faith Hill
- Hootie and the Blowfish
- Jennifer Hudson
- Michael Hutchence (remastered in 2010)
- Ice Cube
- Billy Idol
- Enrique Iglesias (BTM2)
- Rick James (remastered in 2011)
- Jan and Dean
- Jefferson Airplane
- Fat Joe
- Billy Joel
- Elton John
- Quincy Jones
- Judas Priest (remastered in 2010)
- KC and the Sunshine Band
- Kid Rock
- Gladys Knight
- Lenny Kravitz
- Nick Lachey
- Adam Lambert
- Miranda Lambert
- Queen Latifah
- Cyndi Lauper
- John Lennon (Titled "John Lennon: The Last Years and the Legacy"; remastered in 2010)
- Julian Lennon
- Huey Lewis and the News (Remastered in 2021)
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- LL Cool J (Remastered in 2021)
- Jennifer Lopez
- Courtney Love
- Lynyrd Skynyrd (remastered in 2010)
- Madonna (featured in 1998; continued 2001)
- The Mamas & the Papas
- Bob Marley
- Ricky Martin (revisited in 2011 & 2021)
- Matchbox Twenty
- Meat Loaf (remastered in 2010)
- Megadeth (remastered in 2011)
- John Mellencamp
- Metallica (remastered in 2010)
- George Michael
- Bret Michaels (remastered in 2021)
- Bette Midler
- Milli Vanilli (premiere episode; later updated)
- The Monkees
- Keith Moon
- Alanis Morissette
- Mötley Crüe (remastered in 2010)
- Motörhead (the first all-original Behind the Music: Remastered episode)
- Ricky Nelson
- Willie Nelson
- New Edition
- New Kids on the Block (remastered in 2021)
- Stevie Nicks
- No Doubt
- The Notorious B.I.G. (revisited in 2012)
- Ted Nugent (one of two episodes ever to have a viewer warning; remastered in 2012)
- Sinéad O'Connor
- Tony Orlando
- Ozzy Osbourne
- Donny & Marie Osmond
- Pantera (the second episode to have a viewer warning; remastered in 2013)
- The Partridge Family
- Teddy Pendergrass
- Linda Perry (final episode)
- Tom Petty
- Pink (revisited in 2012)
- Poison (remastered in 2010)
- The Police
- Iggy Pop
- Public Enemy
- Quiet Riot
- Bonnie Raitt
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- REO Speedwagon
- Busta Rhymes (remastered in 2021)
- Lionel Richie
- Robbie Robertson
- Nicole Scherzinger
- Brian Setzer
- Frank Sinatra (half-hour retrospective that aired on the day of his death in 1998)
- Smash Mouth (BTM2)
- Britney Spears
- Spice Girls
- Rick Springfield
- Cat Stevens
- Rod Stewart
- Styx (remastered in 2012)
- Donna Summer
- Thin Lizzy (remastered in 2013)
- TLC (continued in 2004; remastered in 2011)
- Peter Tosh
- Tina Turner
- Shania Twain
- Twisted Sister (remastered in 2013)
- Carrie Underwood
- Vanilla Ice
- Lil Wayne
- Barry White
- "Weird Al" Yankovic (remastered in 2010)
Other than musicians, some episodes were documentaries on musical events, films, and non-musicians who were influential on the music world. The following appeared in episodes of the series:
Behind the Music was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards including the Outstanding Non-Fiction Series category for four constitutive years (2000-2003).
In 1999, the series won an ALMA Award for Outstanding Made-for-Television Documentary for the episode featuring Selena and in 2001, Behind the Music won a TV Guide Award for Music Series of the Year.
Behind the Music episodes received multiple nominations including a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Film (Documentary) in 1998 for the episode featuring Boy George as well as multiple Image Awards for episodes featuring Tina Turner and Bob Marley.
Similar VH1 programsEdit
The following is a list of artists who have appeared in VH1 TV programs similar in format to Behind the Music but are not officially part of the series:
- In the movie Josie and the Pussycats, it is explained that Behind the Music was created as a result of how bands are "dealt with" if they discover the fact they are involved in the government's subliminal message program.
- The band Steel Panther released a fictitious episode about themselves that featured Dave Navarro, Dee Snider, Jani Lane, and Kat Von D, among others.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic mentioned the Lynyrd Skynyrd episode in his song "Trapped in the Drive-Thru".
- Adult Swim's Robot Chicken did a skit where the Muppet band, The Electric Mayhem, was profiled on Behind the Music.
- In the made for television film A Diva's Christmas Carol starring Vanessa L. Williams, the character of Ebony * Scrooge watches her own episode near the end. This episode, filling the role as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, chronicles the life and tragic death in an ominous manner to force Ebony to change her ways.
- In the Duck Dodgers episode "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock", Dodgers plays a recorded episode of "Behind The Metal" about Dave Mustaine which is a parody of the Megadeth episode of "Behind the Music".
- In the Family Guy episode "The Thin White Line", Brian explains to his psychiatrist, "You wanna know how pathetic my life is?" I've seen that 'Behind the Music' with Leif Garrett eighteen times." A subsequent cutaway gag is shown with a briefly shown animated recreation of the episode, and then cuts to Brian on the couch lip-synching to the dialogue.
- In the Friends episode "The One with the Joke", Chandler tells Joey, "Dude, you have got to turn on Behind The Music. The band Heart is having a really tough time, and I think they may break up."
- An episode of The Man Show showed a parody of Behind the Music with the band Korn, called Beneath the Music. It showed the two hosts as ex-members of the band but later being kicked out because of their antics.
- A late episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 features a skit parodying Behind the Music about an unnamed band featured in that episode's movie, Track of the Moon Beast; the writers christened them "The Band That Played 'California Lady'", after the apparent title of the song they performed in the film.
- Saturday Night Live's "More cowbell" sketch was a fictitious episode profiling Blue Öyster Cult. SNL would go on to do various skits that parodied BTM including Fat Albert, The Superbowl Shuffle, Joan Jett, Rock and Roll Heaven, John Oats, Colin Hay.
- An episode of Conan aired a parody of Behind the Music featuring the Star Wars Cantina Band.
- The show was parodied on the South Park episode "Terrance and Phillip: Behind the Blow". As well as the episode "Chef Aid: Behind the Menu", which also featured Jim Forbes as narrator.
- On the show Still Standing, Bill and his sister-in-law's new boyfriend sit in a bar and watch part of an episode of Behind The Music.
- An episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? had a spoof of the show, called Rewind the Music.
- The Simpsons episode "Behind the Laughter" was done in the style of Behind the Music. It even used the show's theme music and narrator.
- An episode of The Jamie Foxx Show Season 4, Episode 16 had a spoof of the show, called Behind the Jingle.
- In How I Met Your Mother season 8, episode 15, a parody of Behind the Music was used, named Underneath the Tunes, about the transformation of Robin Sparkles into Robin Daggers.
- The show is also the base for the running parody Behind the Music that Sucks, which has been produced by Internet humor site Heavy.com since 1998.
- The flash animation collaboration based on the Super Mario franchise, Bowser's Kingdom on Newgrounds.com parodied Behind the Music in the tenth episode Bowser's Kingdom: Behind the Kingdom.
- In order to promote his full-length film, internet comedian Stuart Ashen released a parody called Behind the Tat.
- A Chex Mix campaign featuring The Backstreet Boys entitled "Sound Checks- The Story of Snackstreet" borrows heavily from the Behind The Music format.
- Thomas, Harry. Q&A: Gay Rosenthal rollingstone.com. October 12, 2000.
- Weiner, Jennifer. "Gay Rosenthal: The success story behind 'Behind the Music'", The Philadelphia Inquirer via Newspapers.com
- White, Peter (September 15, 2020). "'The Godfather' Making-Of Event Drama, Taylor Sheridan Spy Thriller, 'The Game' Reboot & 'Behind The Music' Revival Lead Paramount+ Original Slate". Deadline. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
- Haring, Bruce (March 15, 2021). "'Behind The Music' First Look Spotlights J-Lo, LL Cool J, Ricky Martin And Huey Lewis As First In Series". Deadline. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
- Choe, Brandon (May 16, 2021). "'Behind The Music' Gets Paramount+ Premiere Date – Watch The Trailer". Deadline Hollywood.
- Hibberd, James. "Lil' Wayne, Scott Weiland on Board for VH1's Revived 'Behind The Music'". billboard.com. March 19, 2009.
- IMDb IMDb - 'Behind the Music' Awards
- Chris Gaines VH1 Behind The Music Part 1. October 30, 2014 – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
- Kiss VH1 Beyond The Makeup 2001. January 7, 2013. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via YouTube.
- behind the wall doc. Vimeo.