WAY BACK IN 1979, nerdish singer Trevor Horn and his band Buggles released single titled Video Killed The Radio Star. (It had been recorded earlier by Bruce Woolley and Camera Club.) The song’s theme was promotion of technology while worrying about its effects. This song relates to concerns about mixed attitudes towards 20th century inventions and machines for the media arts.
The song’s video was written, directed, and edited by Russell Mulcahy, and is remembered as the first such video first music video shown on MTV at 12:01 AM on August 1, 1981. For better or worse, it turned out to be prophetic!
Essentially, Video Killed The Radio Star kicked off the video revolution that may have altered the course and history of rock-based pop music. For all of the previous generations of music lovers, that love was based on the music—listening to it first in person (often at home with the family), then as live and prerecorded music brought into homes through the magic of radio, and then as prerecorded music hat could be played over and over on record and tape players.
The dawning of music television
MTV, originally an abbreviation for Music TeleVision) is an American basic cable and satellite television channel owned by the MTV Networks Music & Logo Group, a unit of Viacom. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by personalities known as ‘video jockeys,’ or ‘VJs.’
In its early years, MTV’s main target demographic were young (mostly white) adults, but today its programming is primarily targeted at adolescents and teenagers in addition to young adults.
There have been thousands of clever, entertaining music videos made along with the blasé and the dreck. I have no intention of debating the merits of the form or MTV, but I want to mention a threesome of early videos that I found delightful: the Kinks’ Come Dancing (1982) and its companion piece, Don’t Forget To Dance (1983), and Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ out-of-nowhere charmer Come On Eileen (1982).
Not just for teenyboppers
That these videos feature music and visual content that appeals to actual adults tells anyone unfamiliar with MTV’s early days that it wasn’t just for teenyboppers.
So, that said: video did not kill no radio stars as the good ones was already mostly (but not all) dead anyways.
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