120 Reasons To Live: Freedy Johnston

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.

#83: Freedy Johnston “Bad Reputation”

The one or two times 120 Minutes might have played Freedy Johnston’s video for “Bad Reputation,” it was kind of like seeing James Taylor at a Pigface concert. Back when there was a medium-sharp divide between the fare on MTV and VH1, Johnston was definitely a VH1, 25-34 demographic, Storytellers kind of guy. It’s nobody’s fault, really, that Johnston didn’t become huge off the excellence of 1994 major-label debut This Perfect World and “Bad Reputation,” his masterpiece in E minor. (Despite what Nigel Tufnel told you, D minor is not the saddest of all keys.) Or maybe the blame should be spread among the teenagers who were presented with a normal-looking singer/songwriter from Kansas (birth name: Fred Fatzer) and couldn’t open their ears, along with the older audience too wrapped up in Counting Crows to notice something really good.