Turns out giving Ray J a national platform to find love (“love”) isn’t the worst thing VH1’s ever done. In either 1999 or 2000, Paul Thomas Anderson, the magnificent director of Boogie Nights and The Master, pitched a variety show hosted by famed producer Jon Brion (who’s worked with everyone from Kanye West to Spoon to Fiona Apple) to the music channel, and even shot a pilot with special guest Elliott Smith, but VH1 said no. Now, I’m not saying VH1 killed Elliott Smith, but…too soon?
Anyway, according to Consequence of Sound, “someone associated with” Paul Thomas Anderson recently uploaded the show to YouTube, which you can watch below. Smith, alongside pianist Brad Mehldau, performed not only his own material, like “Independence Day” and “Happiness,” but also some choice covers, such as the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” and Big Star’s “Nightime.”
But don’t worry, VH1 named “Thong Song” one of the best songs of 1999, so they knew what they were doing.