Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.
#19: New Model Army “51st State”
Apparently, this is one Army without a dental plan. By contrast, the U.S. military has fantastic dental benefits, including orthodontics. We should know; Uncle Sam granted us freedom from our overbite while our family was stationed in Germany. And that’s kind of where “51st State” comes in, a song about the American military presence (New Model Army might call it an “occupation”) in Western Europe after World War II. In 1986, the year this song was released, there were more than 300,000 U.S. troops stationed in Europe, which is a fine and understandable thing to rebel against with an angsty jangle-rock song if you’re a proud post-punk citizen of northern England. The only problem is that history proved the band wrong—we won the Cold War, we mostly left. (Subsequent occupations of other countries by American forces haven’t gone so swimmingly, however.) Needless to say, New Model Army found it difficult to obtain visas to tour the U.S., and the band’s popularity remains confined to Western Europe.