The complete list of buzz clips between 1987 and 2004 is still available at MTV.Com in a section of their website that appears to be infinitely stuck in 2004. We found a bunch of the 30-second promos on Youtube and we decided to post a bunch of them here...
If memory serves correctly, MTV chose to promote 4 or 5 "buzz" artists per month. The selections were mostly reserved for bands whose record labels requested extra promotion of some sort, for artists whose names were relatively new to MTV and possibly unfamiliar to its viewers. The program directors ultimately chose which ones were worthy, and according to Wikipedia 75% of the artist chosen ultimately went on to achieve Gold and Platinum record sales. Sometimes these songs were played on MTV far more often than on the radio. Many times, the selections revealed an exclusive preference for alternative rock, although the 30-second promos often included 1 or 2 videos from hiphop or electronic artists.
Some bands received the tag as many as 4 times before MTV decided they were popular enough to go without it. All three videos from Green Day's Dookie were Buzz Clips. Smashing Pumpkins earned the tag for "Today" and "Disarm," and then again over a year later for "Bullet With Butterfly Wings." Weezer similarly received it for both "Sweater" and "Buddy Holly," and then once again two years later for "El Scorcho." "Butterfly" and "El Scorcho" were both follow-up videos to multiplatinum records, tagged as "buzz" possibly in an effort to promote their status as "alternative" even though both bands were very much among the mainstream.
In the late 90's and early 2000's, as "alternative" became a dirty word, Buzz Clips were no longer promoted with quirky 30-second ads. Throughout the second half of 1998, the tag was nearly abandoned altogether, with Rammstein and Rancid as the only videos promoted as such throughout the second half of that year. Harvey Danger and The Flys ended up barely missing out. Bands such as Girls Against Boys and Hum who might have been introduced to MTV in this manner were reserved for 120 Minutes. The same happened with follow-up singles from Local H and The Cardigans, receiving only late-night MTV promotion.
When the buzz-concept reemerged in 1999, it became far more common for MTV to buzz-tag non-alternative artists. Ricky Martin, Enrigue Iglesias, and Christina Aguilera were promoted as such, alongside Eve, Fatboy Slim, Jennifer Lopez, Kid Rock, Staind and Robbie Williams. The idea remained unfocused and convoluted throughout the next five years, until 2004. During its final year, it was almost used almost exclusively to promote rap, a strange decision since MTV had helped the term Buzz become nearly synonymous with alternative rock.
Since 2004, it appears that MTV has made an effort to bring back the term "Buzzworthy." Their current list of buzzworthy artists is much larger than the 4 or 5 that would have completed a month's worth of "buzz" artists in the late-80's and throughout the 90's.
But what if they were selecting "Buzz Clips" in the same way they were chosen in the 90's? Who would be today's Buzz Clips? Four alt-rock videos and 1 hiphop video? Should we start doing this? No one would care but we'll consider it in the future.
In the meantime, here's the promos we found on Youtube...