Nostalgic Danvers Reflects On 30 Years of MTV
Did Video Kill The Radio Star?
It was the both the end and the beginning of an era when MTV launched music video television with the first music video ever: Video Killed The Radio Star, by The Buggles, 30 years ago this month.
Many wrote it off as a passing fad. For others, it defined a generation.
Video marked the beginning of a new way to interpret music, while also becoming the standard in the music industry. Recording artists embraced the medium as a new way to market themselves. No more nameless-faceless songs on the radio; now those acts had to be polished and spit-shined for the camera. They had to look as good as they sounded.
Let's face it, the idea was really not new. Our parents'-parents had The Ed Sullivan Show, and then our parents annoyed them with American Bandstand. Teenagers love to see their favorite bands perform in the flesh.
I remember the first music video I ever saw: John Cougar (before he was Mellencamp), "Hurts So Good." I was mesmerised by his good looks and thick, wavy, jet-black hair. Finally, I had a visual to go along with the song, and even though there were only a few videos to choose from in those early days in 1981, I was hooked..
Then the videos kept coming: The Police, Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, Billy Squier, Bon Jovi, David Bowie and Mick Jagger "Dancing In The Street"; Van Halen-the original with David Lee Roth "Jumping" at center stage; and lady rockers Lita Ford, Pat Benatar & Joan Jett-Who didn't love Rock & Roll?
...and then the mid 80's brought us Headbangers Ball with Motley Crue, Black Sabbath when Ozzy was still scary; Twisted Sister, Cinderella and the headiest of the headbangers: Metallica.
As teens, we knew all the VJ's, as they became known as, by name, and Music News was the only news we actually cared about. Dweezil Zappa, Downtown Julie Brown and Kurt Loder brought us all the newest videos and headlines from Madonna and Cyndi Lauper to Michael Jackson. When a new video came out, we were there waiting for the first glimpse.
Speaking of The King of Pop, who can forget the debut of Michael Jackson's "Thriller?" It was a 15 minute mini-movie that changed the way videos were made forever. MJ and MTV forged a partnership, with MJ putting out #1 video after #1 video, and MTV running them on a continuous loop until we new every line, every dance move, down pat. Girls learned to dress like Madonna, and boys grew their hair depending on the year from the early 80's mullet (ala' Journey) to full-flowing locks, courtesy of Vince Neil. And when Jon Bon Jovi and the Metallica crew cut their hair in the 90's, it was headline news at MTV.
Today kids get their music digitally, and on Youtube. Just like video killed the radio star-digital music and the internet killed MTV, which now shows practically no videos all, opting instead to follow the reality tv trend with shows like Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant. But for those of us who were there from the beginning, it has been quite a ride.
Thanks for the memories, MTV, and Happy Birthday!
*Also, check out columnist Laura Hinds past reflection on her MTV days in Danvers: My MTV!