MTV Unplugged: How Musicians Re-creating Their Hits In An Acoustic Manner


It's a bit ridiculous (and funny) when some musicians mimed during their performances. One example is a performance of "Roll With It" by Oasis, on music television programme Top of the Pops (TOTP). Noel and Liam Gallagher exchanged roles with Noel miming to Liam's singing track and Liam pretending to play guitar.

Oasis play "Roll With It" on Top of the Pops in 1995

Former Executive Producer of TOTP, Andi Peters stated that there was "no policy" on miming and said that it was entirely up to the performer if they wanted to sing live or mime.

However, the musicians always play live in front of a small audience on MTV Unplugged.

MTV Unplugged is a television series showcasing musical artists usually playing acoustic instruments. The term Unplugged has come to refer to music that would usually be played on amplified instruments, such as an electric guitar or synthesizer, but is rendered instead on instruments that are not electronically amplified. For example acoustic guitar or traditional piano, although a microphone is still used.

The first rock artist to perform in an "unplugged" mode on MTV was Jethro Tull on November 17, 1987 as an acoustic trio (Ian Anderson, Dave Pegg, and Martin Barre). Many of the performances were subsequently released as albums, often featuring the title Unplugged.

During the summer of 2009, MTV.com officially revived the Unplugged franchise. It was the first time Unplugged was shot in HD. The shows debuted on unplugged.mtv.com while single song excerpts appear on MTV and Palladia in video rotation. Palladia is also premiering some of the full shows, air dates TBD. The revamped series was stripped of pretense and made more sparse.

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Below are some of musicians who performed on MTV Unplugged:

Nirvana


American grunge band Nirvana did an acoustic performance at Sony Music Studios in New York City on November 18, 1993. The show was aired on the cable television network MTV on December 16, 1993. Nirvana played a setlist composed of mainly lesser-known material and cover versions of songs by The Vaselines, David Bowie, Lead Belly, and Meat Puppets, whose Cris and Curt Kirkwood joined Nirvana onstage. 

The performance was released as an album on 1 November 1994, titled MTV Unplugged in New York.
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Eric Clapton


Eric Clapton and his band did an acoustic performance at Bray Film Studios in Windsor, England on 16 January 1992. The performance include songs "My Father's Eyes", "Tears in Heaven" and an acoustic version of "Layla". Critical reception has been mixed, though most critics feel the album is relaxed and charming.

The performance was released as an album on 25 August 1992, titled Unplugged.
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Kiss


American rock band Kiss performed on 9 August 1995 at New York's Sony Music Studios. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons contacted former members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley and invited them to participate. Fan reaction to Criss and Frehley at the show was so positive that, in 1996, the original lineup of Kiss reunited, with all four original members together for the first time since 1979.

It marked the only time the original lineup performed publicly without their trademark makeup, and was also the only time Frehley and Criss shared a stage with Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick. It was the first time Singer had part of a lead vocal on an album (shared with Criss on "Nothin' to Lose"). 

The performance was released as a CD on 12 March 1996, titled Kiss Unplugged. A stand-alone VHS and DVD documentary was produced around the same time as the CD release, with archival footage of the band's rehearsal sessions at SIR Studios in New York. It also shows the first "KISS Konvention" appearance with Peter Criss joining the touring members on stage to sing a few tunes earlier in the year. Because of the contentious split, the worldwide fan base never thought this would happen, and it was kept a closely held secret until the day of the event.
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The Corrs


Irish band the Corrs did the session on 5 October 1999 at Ardmore Studios, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. The Corrs played their songs such as "What Can I Do", "Radio", "So Young", and "Runaway".

The performance was released as an album on 12 November 1999, titled The Corrs Unplugged.
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Oasis


Oasis were due to tape the show at the Royal Festival Hall on 23 August 1996, when lead singer Liam Gallagher pulled out at the last minute, citing a sore throat. Noel Gallagher sang all the songs during the 90 minute performance. The surprise of the evening was a last minute venue change from the Roundhouse to the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. 

Liam watched the performance and heckled the group from a balcony. At the end of the band's set, the crowd chanted for Liam to come on stage. He obliged by strolling on stage, banging the piano a few times with his hand, waving to the crowd and then strolling off. The performance has never been officially released.
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Utada Hikaru


Utada Hikaru did the performance on 21 July 2001. 18 years old at that time, she became the youngest singer and the third Japanese (the first and second being Chage and Aska), to be featured on MTV Unplugged. Utada played the songs "Automatic", "First Love", "FINAL DISTANCE" and cover song "U or 2 with" With Or Without You". 

The performance was released as an album on 28 November 2001, titled Utada Hikaru Unplugged.
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Korn


The performance took place in MTV studios in Times Square, New York City on 9 December 2006. It marks Korn's second ever televised acoustic performance (with the first being on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! on July 18, 2006). The show was broadcast online on MTV.com on 23 February 2007 and was broadcast on television in America, Europe and Asia from 2 March 2007.

The exclusive acoustic set had the participation of other big-name artists including Robert Smith and Simon Gallup of The Cure and Amy Lee, the lead singer of Evanescence.

The performance was released as an album on 5 March 2007 titled MTV Unplugged: Korn.