7 Facts About VH1’s ‘Pop-Up Video’ on Its 20th Anniversary (Videos)

Alanis Morissette and TLC were responsible for the network greenlight, but Billy Joel didn’t like it

Pop Up Video

It seemed like too much work at first.

Woody Thompson and Tad Lowe pitched 10 ideas to VH1, but when they got to the “Pop Up Video” idea of putting factoids about each video on screen, network executives exclaimed, ““Wait, you’re going to have people read TV?”

A couple of big hits made it possible.

Though network executives were skeptical of the idea, they tasked the series creators with making a pilot, which they did, with Alanis Morissette’s “You Learn” and TLC’s “Waterfalls.” VH1 ordered 10 episodes.

Lionel Richie’s “Hello” is the greatest pop-up video ever.

Thompson and Lowe are most proud of their efforts on Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” which features a horrific sculpture of the singer. They talked to the real sculptor for the episode: “They only had the one head, and they only saw it the day of the shoot, and it looked like Patrick Ewing, this horrific sculpture,” the producers shared with People. “But they still used it.”

Not every artist was happy with the show.

Famously, Billy Joel made VH1 pull an episode featuring his “Keeping the Faith” music video because their allegation that Christie Brinkley “did not keep the faith” in their marriage was causing their daughter stress and bullying at school.

They brought it back.

VH1 ordered new episodes of “Pop Up Video” in 2011, using the old style of pop-up factoids during music videos from artists like Kesha. Season 1 consisted of 60 episodes, and it went on to a second season in 2012.

Oh yes, there were copycats.

The popularity of “Pop-Up Video” spawned countless knockoffs and imitators. In one example, Disney Channel re-released their original movies like “High School Musical,” calling them the “What’s What Edition.”

It’s not all that original.

Certainly, “Pop-Up Video’s” basic idea of commenting on a video as it’s playing isn’t all that unique. “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” which pokes fun of B-movies, debuted in 1988, and VH1’s sister station MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead,” featuring the two animated assholes giving their opinion of music videos, premiered in 1993.