Every so often I browse through the haughty articles praising a specific poet, critic, playwright or classical artist no one has ever heard of and which has no impact on 99.99% of the USA. This was best summed up (as usual) by the onion in the article titled:
"Finest Opera Singer of Her Generation Unknown by Her Generation"
which, of course, is all too true. Amazing that I remembered that headline from 2001 but my knowledge of the Onion is generally encyclopedic.
In addition to the Onion, I have a pretty deep knowledge of popular music and used to watch MTV back in the day when they actually played videos (now I have to tivo the occasional music program on FUSE or MTV 2 and fast forward through it at three bars to see the 1-2 decent songs in a 2 hour mix).
FUSE network had a program called "Videos that Rocked the World" that I found to be compelling. They profiled 10 videos that were ground breaking, and I agreed with most of them (except for that M*****a video that was just boring and controversial).
One video that HAD to make the cut and came with a very interesting show was "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. The video is so relentlessly overplayed that it is hard to remember how ground breaking it was when it first came out; it literally blew away everything else on the network. The show had some interesting tidbits - apparently MTV didn't want to play the video (too controversial) but David Geffen the billionaire called his buddies at MTV and finally they relented and played the video ONE TIME at 4am but all of the stoners and metalheads out there lit up the switchboard until MTV had to put it in (all-too) regular rotation. The rest, of course, is history with a sad ending. Conan O'Brien did a bit about the "new" Guns N' Roses when he called it "Tubby McGoo and 5 guys who aren't Slash". One last bit of trivia is that Slash went trick or treating with his kids recently and people thought he had a cool costume... as Slash, of course.
Another video that definitely changed the world was the first Britn*y Sp***s video (definitely don't want that traffic) where she danced in a very, um... aggressive way for someone who was pretty far underage. Part of the back story in that show was the impression that this video led to the rise of all the other ones that I can't mention in this post but whom are generally extremely attractive, dress to impress, and have marginal singing / songwriting talents. Basically this video was charged with tanking the Lilith Fair (which has a zombie web site alive from 1999), and god bless it for that.
While I was watching this I noticed one little coincidence that they didn't talk up in the programs for each of these videos - they were both directed by the same guy, Nigel Dick (who directed over 300 music videos, ultimately).
By the fact that Nigel Dick directed BOTH of these incredibly ground breaking videos, propelling hard rock back on the charts and blowing away the sappy Lilith Fair and causing record scouts to search for underage pop tarts everywhere, means that HE has to be up for the most impactful artist of the late 80's and 90's. You haven't heard of him any more than you heard of the best opera singer of your generation, but you have definitely seen his work thousands upon thousands of times.