Video Killed the Radio Star: Aug. 1, 1981

October 29th, 2011 by Michael Tabor
On Aug. 1, 1981 at 12.01 am a revolution in music was spawned  when MTV, the all music channel,  debuted with the apropos song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the group – The Buggles. Yes, I had just graduated from high school, I was enjoying my last summer before heading off to college, and I was narcotically hooked to MTV.
When one is in college, he or she has a prodigious amount of time on one’s hands – especially during the day (for the first time in a young person’s life). This so-called “free time” is supposed to be filled with earnest study, but more often than not I found myself glued to the TV like Beavis and Butthead (Sorry a digression – I am laughing out loud by virtue of the fact that I am sadly correctly capitalizing the “B”s in Beavis and Butthead; so much for high culture. Actually a decade and a half later Beavis and Butthead would be a hit show on MTV…STOP – another blog) getting my daily fix of MTV.  What was the appeal? What was so great about it? Why did I almost fail out of college because instead of going to class, I was watching MTV.
Well, for me at least there were a couple of reasons: 1) I was a neophyte at guitar [BTW, 30 years later I’m still playing] and I delusively thought I was going to be a rock star. 2) There was nothing like it – EVER before. Music and the pictures, images, and videos to go with it was a new experience. The only other time one was able to see one’s heroes on TV was if you caught “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” (very ‘hippieish” man; besides the cats were old rock n’ rollers and included just the band performing) which aired for an hour bi-weekly and “Saturday Night Live”[again just live performances].
MTV changed music forever and in my opinion for the worse. In the past, before MTV, listening to music conjured up all kinds of personal images and they were mine; subsequently with MTV the performing artist, band, group, etc. imprinted an image[s] for you and the musical experience became prodigiously passive – we became zombies – true couch potatoes. Now every time I hear the song Jump on the radio I don’t fantasize or think of images myself, all I can see is David Lee Roth sporting spandex pants and doing jumping double leg splits and Eddie Van Halen (the coolest dude on the planet with an axe in the ‘80s) playing his red and white signature Fender guitar with his lit cigarette lodged in the nut and headstock (oh and who could forget Eddie blowing smoke rings into the camera). And, of course Madonna in Borderline and her slovenly dressed/gum-chewing/punky/New Wave style and her Latino boyfriend that made her a star beyond anybody’s wildest hankering dream. Which incidentally brings me to my final thoughts and conclusion.
Madonna and especially Bon Jovi would be nobodies had it not been for MTV. What was of paramount importance was “a look” and an image which supplanted the music itself.
So WhadaYaThink ? What do you think? Certainly, there was a lot of creativity and talent involved in the making of the videos. The video was an art in itself .Yes, Madonna and Michael Jackson could dance and Bon Jovi was good-looking but [isn’t] the music important?
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2 Responses to “Video Killed the Radio Star: Aug. 1, 1981”

  1. diablo 3 Says:

    Everything is extremely open and extremely clear explanation of troubles. was truly details. Your internet site is really useful. Many thanks for sharing.

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    Thank you for your kind words Diablo.

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