On August 1st, 1981 music became a visual phenomena with the launch of MTV. At precisely 12.01 am MTV came to life, premiering their first ever music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star”. In a single moment the world of music shifted, changing the possibilities of an industry that had been strictly based in radio and live performance. The iconic song, “Video Killed the Radio Star”, created the perfect message, fueling a technological revolution built from a restless generation. Individuals who witnessed the beginnings of MTV knew that this video represented more than the creation of new media, it represented the possibilities of their futures.
In the days following the launch of MTV, people were exposed to some of the most iconic music videos to date. Unlike other channels MTV supplied their viewers with non-stop musical bliss. VeeJays gained household recognition and musicians became known for their unique styles. Devo’s bizarre red hats became a must have and Blondie was recognized as an icon.
The year following the launch of MTV brought the channel to parts of America that had been left out of the first broadcasts. This nationwide viewership only propelled the music video to greater heights, allowing musicians to create visually artistic representations of their songs. This shift in focus from the song to the video has left us with some of the best short films in history.
Although MTV has evolved away from it’s musical roots, the music video still remains strong. Individuals such as Joseph Kahn have made a living off this industry, telling stories that would have otherwise remained untold had the music video not been popularized by MTV.
This wonderful emphasis on the music video is something members of the SCC would like to share with the Purdue Community by sharing videos that we find particularly interesting, ground breaking, controversial, or just simply good. Today, we will share the first music video to air on MTV.
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles
Let us know what you think! — If you’re interested in more information on the creation and evolution of MTV, we’d suggest reading: MTV: The Making of a Revolution by Tom McGrath