Imagine if you will, the year is 2006.
With the iPhone a year away, the world was enraptured by Blackberrys, Razrs, Hiptops and the LG Chocolate. As the record industry fully settled into its future in the digital space, and that included how we were listening to music, there was (sadly) no better way to show that off than with a ringtone.
MTV took notice of ringtone dominance, and at the 2006 MTV VMAs, for the first and only time, had an award for Ringtone of the Year.
In contention for the award was Kanye West’s “Gold Digger,” Nelly’s “Grillz,” Bubba Sparxxx’s “Ms. New Booty” and The Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps.” However, the winner of the award was none other than Fort Minor for the song “Where’d You Go,” off their 2006 LP The Rising Tied.
As Mike Shinoda walks up to accept his award, throngs of teens wave their Sidekicks and Phones at the camera, really setting the scene for the strange award show.
“This is the first VMA that I won for Fort Minor,” Shinoda says. He goes on to thank Linkin Park, Jay-Z, Machine Shop, and a variety of other people involved with the album’s release. He goes through a rapid-fire list of names before exiting the stage.
It’s not crazy to see why Fort Minor won the award that year. Sales-wise the song was certified platinum, went to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and helped The Rising Tied earn a platinum-sales certification.
Anecdotally, the song was pretty much everywhere and definitely dominated ringtones for the year. Shinoda’s production is simple and smooth, sharing DNA with Linkin Park but still carrying its own identity. Holly Brook and Jonah Matranga’s vocal feature is catchy and an all-time earworm.
Regardless of the award, Shinoda was clearly stoked to get it, and to his credit, accepts it with seriousness and grace. It also makes us lowkey miss ringtones, before the uniformity of Apple and Android’s cellphone offerings changed our phones forever.
Check out his speech below.