VH1 Soul (2000- ) is an MTV channel in America that plays classic and neo soul music videos. They also play some reggae and hip hop. “Classic” means the 1990s – SWV, not Aretha.
- Ownership: Viacom by way of MTV. Viacom also owns the black-oriented BET and Centric.
- Location: New York.
- Format: music videos.
- Viewers: ???.
- Countries: parts of the USA, Chile, ?.
Among artists with a number one hit in the past five years on the American R&B charts:
- They play: Robin Thicke, Miguel, Usher, Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Jamie Foxx, Trey Songz, Alicia Keys, Monica, Timbaland, Melanie Fiona, Maxwell, Keri Hilson, Jeremih;
- Not: Eminem, Macklemore, 2 Chainz, Wale, Lil Wayne, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj;
- But sometimes: Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West, Chris Brown, Rihanna.
While I was writing this post (in 2014) they were playing: The Dream, Bobby V ft Yung Joc, Mack Wilds, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Tori Kelly, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Beyonce ft Jay-Z, Sevyn Streeter ft Chris Brown, SWV, Janet Jackson, Pharrell, Estelle ft Sean Paul, Eve ft Sean Paul.
They draw the line somewhere, somehow through hip hop: They will play Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco and Nas, for example, but never Macklemore or 2 Chainz. Nicki Minaj or Lil Wayne might appear if they are on someone else’s song. They play some hits by Jay-Z, like “Empire State of Mind” (2009), but not others, like “Niggas in Paris” (2011). MTV Jams is MTV’s main hip hop station.
They generally do not play music from before 1990. You mainly see older music when they do tributes to, say, Prince or Michael Jackson, or do a block of old school hip hop or Sade. VH1 Classic is MTV’s main oldies station.
Broadcast standards: There are few video vixens, few words that have to be blanked out. They play Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (2013) while French Montana’s “Pop That” (2012) and 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song” (2012) would be unthinkable. Somehow they manage to present black people without resorting to cheap or degrading stereotypes. It can be done!
VH1 Soul’s glory days were in 2010 when it had no ads at all!
First Format Evolution: For a few years in the late 2000s it was moving towards non-music programming, going the way of MTV. Apparently they lost too many of the few viewers they had and went back to mainly playing music videos.
According to the ads, many in its audience:
- Have bad skin (X Out)
- Need to exercise and lose weight (Lipozene, Hip Hop Abs, Right Size smoothies)
- Need quick money (Money Mutual, Oasis Legal Finance)
- Have no bank account (Netspend card, Control pre-paid Master Card, Rush card)
- Have trouble using computers (Dragon, MyCleanPC.com)
- Date black people (BlackPeopleMeet.com).
No Flo, no geckos: Unlike much of American television, there are no car or car insurance ads.
I used to think the station was run by computer. But when Heavy D died in 2011, they knew! They also know, for example, that Brand Nubian’s “Slow Down” (1991) and “Murder She Wrote” (1994) by Chaka Demus & Pliers are alike despite coming from different styles of music.
– Abagond, 2014.
Update (2015): VH1 Soul was renamed BET Soul on December 28th.