MTV’s “Unplugged” Still Going Strong After 23 Years

“Unplugged” is a show that provides artists with an opportunity to ditch the loud instruments and flashy concert appeal to simply perform as themselves. Performances are reduces to little or no instruments. Usually, the lights are dim, and the atmosphere is casual, allowing for a more personal experience for viewer and artist, alike. The show originally aired in 1989 and was awarded an Emmy. It was credited for being “ground-breaking”, offering fans a more acoustical approach and view at their favorite artists.

The show has helped artists from all genres showcase their singing abilities. “Unplugged” has seen the talents of some of the most incredible artists of the 20th century, including Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, India, Laryn Hill, Lil Wayne, Train and more.

However, “Unplugged” does not guarantee a spot to just anyone. The president of the Viacom Music and Logo Group, Van Toffler, said artists that are invited to perform are hand-picked with care. He reports that MTV gets a lot of requests from artists, but not all of these artists seem to fit with the show’s stripped-down approach. Toffler went on to say that he believes simplicity and rawness are key components in what has made “Unplugged” a lasting draw for audiences. He added that the “Unplugged” forum will not hide any blemishes for any artist.

Most recently, “Unplugged” viewers were treated to the singing talents of Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine. The group debuted in 2009 and is classified as a Indie Pop group. The band originally hails from England. The name of it’s first album was “Lungs”. Performances for Florence + the Machine have included the Teenage Cancer Trust, and more recently, the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

The performance was received well by all, including Florence Welch, who was awed and amazed by being able to perform in the oldest synagogue in New York, where the session was taped. Not only did Welch report loving the synagogue in which she performed for the session, but she said she greatly enjoyed the performance itself.

Welch said she enjoyed the way she was able to concentrate on the songs and the emotions. This wasn’t hard, since the low lighting and stage full of candles help create a very personal and honest atmosphere. This was a different forum for her, without all of the additional instruments  that she normally sings with.

During her performance, Welch sang some of her own songs, like “Drumming Song” and “Never Let Me Go”. For these songs, she had backup from The Voices of Rivers, a ten person choir. She also sang “Jackson” in a duet with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. Welch also sang “Try A Little Tenderness” and “Dog Days Are Over“.

This show will air April 8, 2012, as the first episode in the season. There are eight shows currently scheduled. “Unplugged” will also air performances by Dierks Bentley and The Civil Wars.

MTV is available with your digital cable television subscription from Comcast Cable Packages.