Let’s get meta. This page of The 120 Minutes Archive is about the archive itself, with an overview of the project, how to contribute, other helpful resources, the press that we’ve received, and how you can reach out and follow us.
August 8, 2023
What is The 120 Minutes Archive?
The dream of the ’90s is alive… here! This is The 120 Minutes Archive. Starting from our home page, you can browse 27 years of playlists of MTV’s 120 Minutes and its one-time successor, Subterranean. Each item in the index shows you the guest or host of that episode. Select the date to see the playlist, and then select a video to watch it on YouTube. You can also search for the name of an artist or music video to see everywhere it appears in the archive. There’s a lot here—you can get lost for days. We’ll see you when you resurface.
Does MTV have anything to do with this?
No, we are not MTV. This project was not MTV’s idea, they don’t run or control it, and they don’t support us. However, we’ve had informal relationships with a variety of people at MTV over the years, and staff at MTV have used this archive to help find and reference the original tapes within their internal video library.
How did the archive get started?
This project got underway in 2003 as The unofficial 120 Minutes site, when the show was still airing on MTV2 and our raison d’être was to post the playlist each week because MTV didn’t. After 120 Minutes was cancelled, we morphed into MTV2 Subterranean: The unofficial site and put out a call to visitors to help us build those playlists backwards and preserve the entire legacy of 120 Minutes. From 2004 to 2008, we were altmusictv, as our scope widened a bit to cover the past and present of “alternative” music television. In 2008, we settled into our current form, The 120 Minutes Archive, including a stint covering and archiving the show’s brief revival from 2011 to 2013. We’ve been filling in the remaining gaps since then. For more on the show’s history, see About 120 Minutes.
Who all has contributed to the archive?
Literally hundreds of people—they’ve all volunteered their free time to break out their VHS tapes (and a VCR to play them), write down the episode playlists, and send them to us. We’ve credited all our contributors throughout the pages of the archive—look for the “source for this playlist” at the top of each episode. These names include enthusiasts, casual fans of the show who happened to find a box of tapes at their parents’ house, and VJs who hosted the show.
What are the goals of this project?
This project is definitely exhaustive, but that’s its charm. If this were the work of one mind it’d be insane, but this is the result of a collective, accidentally massive effort. People care about the history of this music and culture. 120 Minutes came to represent the age of everything “alternative”—it helped form the identity of a pivotal generation, and the nostalgia for that time is real. Those who are younger than the era itself can also find classic artists in the archive to watch for the first time. This project lets people connect with that unique formative experience and discover all kinds of music that nobody else is talking about anymore.
How do I add or edit episode playlists?
The archive is curated manually; there’s no public editing feature like a wiki. So, if you have any playlists you’d like to contribute for episodes that aren’t yet listed in the archive, or to make any corrections to existing playlists, simply email us. If your playlist is incomplete or the air date is uncertain, that’s OK—give us as much as you can. We’ll take anything from the MTV U.S. version of 120 Minutes.
If you’d like to add or edit any episode playlists, email . Please use this email address only to contribute content to the archive. Your contributions will become the property of the archive and may be edited and/or published. By default, we’ll credit you by your first name—tell us if you prefer something else instead. Thank you so much for your work.
When will my contributions be published?
Since the archive is an all-volunteer effort, there’s no real rhyme or reason to the posting of updates. We’ll usually post them in batches. If it seems like it’s been a long time and you still don’t see the update you sent us, rest assured we’ve got it and it’ll be published, even if we can’t tell you exactly when.
How can I donate to support the archive?
This is an independent project—we are non-commercial, we receive no funding from anyone, and we show no ads. It costs money and time to keep the archive going—we rely on donations to stay online. Help us keep the “dream of the ’90s” alive and make this place a permanent exhibit of all things alternative—because 120 Minutes deserves a home where its history and legacy live on.
You don’t need to create any accounts or sign up for anything to donate—it only takes a few seconds. We will never email you. Thank you so much!
We can’t be everything to everyone. In this section, we outline a few things that we don’t do here and point you to where you can go for those things.
Wait, where are the clips from the show?
Aside from the 2003 series finale video, we don’t host any clips from the show here. However, there is a great number of full episodes at the Internet Archive. For live performances, artist interviews, in-studio segments, and more episodes, your best bet is to search YouTube for 120 Minutes—there’s a treasure trove on there at any given time, but the clips tend to come and go as YouTube answers copyright claims. For occasional additional curated clips from the show, visit our friends at Slicing Up Eyeballs.
Why are some of the video links incorrect?
Music videos move locations over time as their copyright holders change, so we rely on the algorithm gods at Google to serve up the correct video for you when you click on video links throughout the archive. 99% of the time they get it right, but occasionally they don’t, and rarely a video isn’t on the web at all.
Why aren’t there streaming playlists?
The goal of the archive is to be evergreen. If we were to make playlists en masse on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Music, they might deteriorate over time as songs move around on those services. The best way to accomplish this is to take it into your own hands: use the static playlists we have here to identify an episode you love, and then create and share your own streaming playlist from it. If you make a particularly cool playlist, let us know and we might feature it.
What about other MTV shows or versions?
We only have the capability to cover the original U.S. version of 120 Minutes and Subterranean in this archive. We would love to see other people create archives of the UK version, the MTV Classic version, or other historic MTV shows, like Yo! MTV Raps and Headbangers Ball—maybe you could be that hero. For complete archives of Total Request Live, visit our friends at The TRL Archive.
Do you sell or trade any recordings?
We don’t have any VHS tapes, DVDs, or digital recordings of 120 Minutes. All of our playlists come from volunteer contributors who transcribed their own tapes, and for their privacy, we can’t hook you up with them. If you have recordings, we encourage you to digitize them and share them with the world on YouTube or at the Internet Archive.
Can you identify this video I’m thinking of?
While we wish we could help you remember the name of that music video you once saw on 120 Minutes, we can’t. You know who can, though? The internet’s hive mind. There are communities set up at Reddit and MetaFilter just for this purpose. Try posting on one of them—best of luck.
When we tell you this is “the independent, critically acclaimed, definitive library of music video nostalgia”, we mean it. Here’s some of the press we’ve received.
BuzzFeed — Julie Gerstein, Senior Lifestyle Editor“A brave, crazy genius and a team of volunteers dug through hundreds of hours of tape to create this archive. Take a perusal and try not to lose the next ten hours of your life. It will throw you into a nostalgia k-hole.”The New York Times — Jon Caramanica, Television Critic“The site devoted to the first run of the show that thrived by exploiting the large window of obscurity between new bands’ first songs and their wide embrace—if they ever got there.”NPR — Sarah Handel, Producer and Senior Editor“Something amazing now exists: The 120 Minutes Archive. It’s an absolute treasure. Click over—but only if you’ve got some significant time to spend. I know I could spend all day going through it.”The New Yorker — Troy Patterson and Doreen St. Félix, Staff Writers“The metamorphosis of alternative rock, assembled with obsessive love and exhaustive links. To play along and sequence your viewing as the network did is to discover wonderful juxtapositions, while admiring a variety of lo-fi visual styles developed under low-budget constraints.”MTV — Brett Smiley, Staff Writer“Thanks to the gigantic 120 Minutes Archive, you’ll enjoy information about the show that you probably didn’t know or may have forgotten.”The A.V. Club — Rob Dean, “Great Job, Internet!”“Luckily, this being the internet, there is work being done to preserve this legacy, even when MTV veered away from playing music videos entirely. It’s interesting to see how the vibe changed with each new fad in music and how far the ‘alternative’ label could be stretched over 27 years.”Entertainment Weekly — Mike Bruno, “Site Of The Day”“Be careful: what started out as an innocent reminiscing on my former love of the Sugarcubes has turned into an hour-long marathon of clicking Sonic Youth, Cure, and Primus videos. Impressive, obsessive, and sure to remind you of a really bad haircut.”USA Today — Jayme Deerwester, Entertainment Reporter“If your favorite member of Generation X has had a hard time focusing on work, now you know why: it’s this lovingly catalogued compendium of MTV’s influential, wayward home for college and alternative music.”VICE — Editorial, “Noisey: Music by VICE”“120 Minutes now has an iconic place in the hallowed halls of music history. Get stoned and relive your late-night TV watching youth.”Mental Floss — Chris Higgins, Pop Culture Writer“Imagine my joy when a new website began cataloging videos featured on 120 Minutes. The 120 Minutes Archive has entertained me for hours.”Paper Magazine — Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Editor“Any alternateen worth their ringer tees was obsessed with MTV’s weekly alt video show. So cancel your plans, say goodbye to the day: The 120 Minutes Archive is a wonderland.”HuffPost — Michael Calderone, Senior Media Reporter“For all those who recall taping episodes of 120 Minutes, the seminal late-night show that introduced a generation of moody teens to the Pixies.”The Stranger — Mike Nipper, Music Editor“Even for all my thread-chasing, record-nerd pretense, I was quite shocked this exhaustive trove of alternative history exists. For even the casual music listener, The 120 Minutes Archive is worth a peek.”The Village Voice — Michael Tedder, Music Editor“MTV executives point to the extensive amount of 120 Minutes information on the web (here’s Exhibit A) as proof that there’s still interest in the show.”T-Mobile — Editorial, “Electronic Beats”“Meet your alternative heroes from the late ’80s to the early ’00s in this rare compilation of memories, which were so close to being lost forever.”MetaFilter — Charles Vestal, Contributing Writer“This should be enough to crush you under a wave of nostalgia and longing for the days when MTV was what it says on the tin.”iHeartRadio — Sara Sheltz, Staff Writer“Beware, because you might lose a little more than the next 120 minutes of your life browsing the archive. There’s so much to see.”
For press inquiries, to get in touch about a feature that you’re currently working on, or to let us know about a published feature, email .
Here’s who we are and where to find us online. Feel free to reach out and follow us, or see above for information on how to contribute to the archive via email.
Who runs The 120 Minutes Archive?
Tyler Marie is the curator of The 120 Minutes Archive. She created this project in 2003 and has kept it going ever since because so many of you have reached out to her over the past 20 years to tell her how much the archive means to you. To keep up with Tyler, you can listen to her radio show and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Bluesky, and Spotify.
Camille is the assistant editor of The 120 Minutes Archive, joining the project in 2023 to help update it and improve it with resources from the Internet Archive. You can listen to their radio show featuring post-punk and goth music.
The 120 Minutes Archive is a fully independent, non-commercial, and not-for-profit project created by Tyler Marie. This project is not owned or operated by MTV. Names, logos, and other trademarks are the intellectual property of their respective owners.