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Top Videos from MTV's First Day
February 10, 2010 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Top Videos from MTV's First Day. Most people know that The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" was the first video ever played on MTV, on August 1, 1981. The Top 13 picks the top 13 videos that aired that day.

Pat Benatar's "You Better Run" was the second video played on MTV; Nick Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind" was the last played that day. Of the 62 videos that aired that day, five were by Rod Stewart and four were by REO Speedwagon. The rest of the Top 13:
  • Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime"
  • Pretenders, "Brass in Pocket"
  • Blondie, "Rapture"
  • Phil Collins, "In the Air Tonight"
  • David Bowie, "Ashes to Ashes"
  • The Who, "You Better You Bet"
  • Elvis Costello, "Oliver's Army"
  • Gerry Rafferty, "Baker Street"
  • Iron Maiden, "Iron Maiden"
  • April Wine, "Just Between You and Me"
posted by kirkaracha (57 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "Cruel to Be Kind" video has footage of Nick Lowe's wedding to June Carter. I guess "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)" would've been too on the nose.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:08 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, nothing represents the early-MTV era of music videos better than Pete Farndon (R.I.P.) pointing to the word "SPECIAL" on the diner menu just as Chrissie Hynde is singing the word "special" in the lyrics.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:12 AM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Of the 62 videos that aired that day, five were by Rod Stewart and four were by REO Speedwagon.

I'm not sure if this is more or less depressing than the mention of April Wine.
posted by Skot at 10:12 AM on February 10, 2010


kirkaracha, Nick Lowe was married to Carlene Carter. Though your option would have made quite a song...
posted by datawrangler at 10:17 AM on February 10, 2010


62 videos in 24 hours is only one every half hour. Still, a lot more than they show now.
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of the 62 videos that aired that day, five were by Rod Stewart

Do they play anywhere near as much music in a day today? Even half as much?

I remember my Mass Media teacher back in 1988 telling us that, in the first month, MTV was known as "The Rod Stewart Channel".
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:18 AM on February 10, 2010


DU: jinx!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:18 AM on February 10, 2010


Cat Pie Hurts: "Do they play anywhere near as much music in a day today? Even half as much?."

MTV drops 'Music Television' from the network logo
posted by Joe Beese at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2010


REO Speedwagon was a band I heard about constantly growing up. As far as I can tell, they were huge in the 70s and 80s. Kids at school wore REO Speedwagon t-shirts, I saw their records in the bins at Strawberries and there were REO Speedwagon posters and glow-in-the-dark mirrors hanging in the back of Spencer Gifts. I was pretty in touch with popular music back then, certainly more than I am today. I couldn’t then and I can’t now name a single REO Speedwagon song.

I suppose I could go look them up on the Googles but I think I might just be better off going to my grave never having knowingly heard one of their songs.
posted by bondcliff at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can watch the launch here.

Wikipedia has the running order of the first 62 videos. There aren't many opprtunites these days to discuss Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, PhD, Bootcamp, Blotto, or the Silencers.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2010


I remember that Maiden video. I always thought it was funny – in the bottom corner is said

Iron Maiden
"Iron Maiden"
Iron Maiden

Something like that anyway...
posted by Mister_A at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I suppose I could go look them up on the Googles but I think I might just be better off going to my grave never having knowingly heard one of their songs.

You mean you do' wanna know?

(Heh, that's not the song I was thinking of. But it turns out they have a song by the same name as the one I was thinking of, which was by Fleetwood Mac. Who I only just now realized is a separate group.)
posted by DU at 10:28 AM on February 10, 2010


This thread is just gonna be us old fucks, probably.
posted by Skot at 10:29 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I remember in those days watching the shittiest videos and enjoying them because it was all so new. I even bought the album from the Look based on this video for their "hit" "We're Gonna Rock (So How 'bout You?)", which, for a brief while, MTV played way more they should have. I feel great shame that I used to enjoy a song withtwo guitar solos and the lyrics:

Don'tcha sit on your ass, and you be no fool
You don't need a class, you don't need no school

posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:32 AM on February 10, 2010


Twenty years from now, the kids will be reminiscing over the cast of Jersey Shore. Food for thought.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why doesn't MTV have a day where they air the first 24 hours? I'm sure it would be a big hit. Oh wait, it would cut into the 10 Jersey Shore reruns.
posted by naju at 10:34 AM on February 10, 2010


...on August 1, 1981

to this day I tell people I got MTV as the coolest 13th birthday present EVAR!!!
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:36 AM on February 10, 2010


naju: Why doesn't MTV have a day where they air the first 24 hours?

I think VH1 did that for one of MTV's anniversaries.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:36 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously. (sort-of)
posted by wittgenstein at 10:36 AM on February 10, 2010


I remember the first moments of MTV very clearly. I was at my friend Nick's house with his brother Tim. We were all gathered together specifically for the starting moment. Stereo audio for TV wasn't a thing yet. If you only had the TV audio it was glorious mono through a single one inch speaker. You had to tune in the right station on a radio to hear a simulcast in stereo. The spaceman planting the MTV flag was burned into my 6th grade brain through repetition.
posted by Babblesort at 10:39 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Martha Quinn
Nina Blackwood
J.J. Jackson
Mark Goodman
Alan something-or-other.

I wonder if Alan something-or-other would be depressed if he found out he's the only one of them I can't recite from memory.
posted by bondcliff at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had a similar experience with REO Speedwagon as bondcliff. I kept seeing the name so one day I listened to a number of their biggest hits on YouTube, expecting recognize a couple, and I had never heard a single one of them. They really seem to have disappeared from popular culture.

Also, remember when MTV2 had music videos?
posted by Kattullus at 10:43 AM on February 10, 2010


Pat Benatar's "You Better Run" was the second video played on MTV.

I distinctly remember MTV having a trivia contest years ago where one of the toughest questions was "what was the second video played on MTV." The answer was "Oliver's Army."

Now I don't know who to believe.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2010


Ok, curiosity got the better of me so I looked them up on Wikipedia. I can sort of hum the hook from Keep On Loving You so I guess they did manage to seep into my brain, even if I had no idea that was an REO Speedwagon song.

Also, I love how some of these bands are still plugging away with one or two original members, usually on a "Blast from the past" cruise or as a featured act at the county fair. Wikipedia says "So and so is an American rock and roll band..." and I really want to change the "is" to "was" because, I mean, c'maaan.
posted by bondcliff at 10:49 AM on February 10, 2010


TYPO ALERT:

This list is wrong and Todd Rundgren's "Time Heals" is actually numbers 1 through 13.
posted by mintcake! at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"You can tune a piano buy you can't tuna fish" by REO Speedwagon is one of the great album titles ever. They weren't horrible in the 70s when they were still a rock band.
posted by COD at 10:54 AM on February 10, 2010


Navelgazer: Now I don't know who to believe.

It's Pat Benatar (5:41 after an MTV promo). "Oliver's Army would have been much cooler.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:56 AM on February 10, 2010


I like 'em both. and I like April Wine, and REO's best song is "Ridin' The Storm Out."

(the fact that i watched MTV back in the days when they pretty much had to play just about anything they were sent to fill airtime probably shaped my tastes for better or worse)
posted by jonmc at 10:59 AM on February 10, 2010


You know, The Buggles really did oversimplify the matter.

Although I suppose that "Video Didn't Actually Kill all of the Radio Stars, Only the Unattractive Ones, and in Fact You Could Argue That Radio Stars Were Doing Pretty Well Until the FCC Relaxed Their Rules For Station Ownership, Making it Possible for Clear Channel Et Al to Kill All of the Radio Stars Except for a Select Few Who Had Proven Their Ability to Make People Tune in During Their 30-Minute Drive-Time, and Even Then Really Only Playing the Two Most Popular Songs by the Few Remaining Radio Stars, in Effect Killing Them or at Least Crippling Them and Trivializing Their Music" doesn't make for a terribly catchy song title.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:04 AM on February 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I can't articulate how refreshing it is to see these (then) kids not even trying to be ironic.
posted by klanawa at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cool. Two of my all time favourite videos on that list - Once in a Lifetime and Ashes to Ashes. Both of them blew my mind, although I saw them on the chart show or TOTP as MTV wasn't easy to watch on our side of the pond.
posted by handee at 11:12 AM on February 10, 2010


I'am so old. I use to work nights so I slept with the TV on MTV all day...I remember all of these. BTW my favorite REO Speedwagon tune was "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore".
posted by bjgeiger at 11:15 AM on February 10, 2010


When I was in college in the late 70s, REO was still relatively an unknown band in the Northeast. One of the guys I worked with in the dining hall was really into them (he was a lacrosse player, was this proto-jockrock?) and played their albums at parties. By the 80s they had morphed into something I'm sure he wouldn't have recognized let alone liked.
posted by tommasz at 11:16 AM on February 10, 2010


I was 14 when Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" video came out and it didn't look like anything I'd ever seen on television. Now it's like watching the Ur-video: about a decade's worth of music video ideas in seed form. Ah hell, I think I might be getting old.
posted by The Mouthchew at 11:20 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although I suppose that "Video Didn't Actually Kill all of the Radio Stars, Only the Unattractive Ones, and in Fact You Could Argue That Radio Stars Were Doing Pretty Well Until the FCC Relaxed Their Rules For Station Ownership, Making it Possible for Clear Channel Et Al to Kill All of the Radio Stars Except for a Select Few Who Had Proven Their Ability to Make People Tune in During Their 30-Minute Drive-Time, and Even Then Really Only Playing the Two Most Popular Songs by the Few Remaining Radio Stars, in Effect Killing Them or at Least Crippling Them and Trivializing Their Music" doesn't make for a terribly catchy song title.

This "Afroblanco" would appear to be a sockpuppet for the ghost of David Foster Wallace :)
posted by supermedusa at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2010


Wow, that Iron Maiden video was really ahead of its time. Cheesy hair metal was in the incubator for a lot longer than I would have thought.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 11:29 AM on February 10, 2010


Also, remember when MTV2 had music videos?

Chudbeagle does. (Craziest deleted post of all time?)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:36 AM on February 10, 2010


Iron Maiden is not 'hair metal,' genius.
posted by jonmc at 11:37 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never even knew a video for "Oliver's Army" existed, and I wish I didn't - MAN, that video SUCKS. It at least has the excuse that it was filmed pre-MTV, but so was "Ashes To Ashes" and that was one of the best videos of all time. The worst part is when they have some poor Asian dude dressed up like a horrible Charlie Chan stereotype lip-syncing the "Hong Kong is up for grabs" line. Jesus, Elvis. Maybe he really IS racist.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:49 AM on February 10, 2010


NWOBHM
posted by mintcake! at 11:50 AM on February 10, 2010


Heh. I remember scoffing at The Who at that point, because they were like a million years old and nobody I knew listened to them, and how was that song popular anyway?

When I caught myself griping about kids not knowing who they were the day after the Super Bowl, I remembered this and felt very old and sad...

("Take It On The Run" is best REO song, btw...)
posted by Pufferish at 12:23 PM on February 10, 2010


I started watching "Rapture" and was thinking, "Man, Deborah Harry was so hot" then the camera panned down to those giant eighties running shorts pulled up to her armpits. She was 36 in that video.
posted by mecran01 at 12:28 PM on February 10, 2010


If MTV showed videos all the time, how did anyone learn about teenagers who had babies even though they didn't know they were pregnant?
posted by Slap Factory at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2010


She was 36 in that video.

That can't be right, I thought, so I looked it up. She was born during World War II, only two years after George Harrison!
posted by aaronetc at 1:08 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]



Twenty years from now, the kids will be reminiscing over the cast of Jersey Shore. Food for thought.


Not if I finish my Doomsday Device they're not.
posted by The Whelk at 2:06 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW my favorite REO Speedwagon tune was "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore".

But the lyrics MAKE NO SENSE. "It's time to bring this ship into the shore, baby, throw away the oars fevers." Ships don't have oars! Only boats have oars!
posted by jonp72 at 2:20 PM on February 10, 2010


How is it both "Oliver's Army is here to stay" and "Oliver's Army are on their way"? I know that British and American English have different rules, but shouldn't this be one way or the other?

Nick Lowe was married to Carlene Carter

Crap. Not only did I know that (I have a couple of her albums), I read the blog post and looked her up on Wikipedia. I regret the error.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2010


jonp72: But the lyrics MAKE NO SENSE. "It's time to bring this ship into the shore, baby, throw away the oars fevers." Ships don't have oars! Only boats have oars!

Say that to the face of the Roman Empire!

See what I did there... no? An empire doesn't have a face, you see. Okay, that wasn't very clever. I'll just slink off now.
posted by Kattullus at 2:27 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to Wikipedia, the Roman Empire does indeed have a face*, ships have oars** and REO Speedwagon's popularity has declined over the years. Obviously, we must not believe anything from Wikipedia.

*Under the section titled Eastern Roman Empire (476-1453):
This is when the Emperor Heraclius made sweeping reforms, forever changing the face of the empire.
**Longships are referred to as both a boat and a ship in the article. Make of that what you will.
posted by robtf3 at 2:54 PM on February 10, 2010


Wow, Debbie Harry really cannot rap.
posted by afx237vi at 3:22 PM on February 10, 2010


Although I suppose that "Video Didn't Actually Kill all of the Radio Stars, Only the Unattractive Ones, and in Fact You Could Argue That Radio Stars Were Doing Pretty Well Until the FCC Relaxed Their Rules For Station Ownership, Making it Possible for Clear Channel Et Al to Kill All of the Radio Stars Except for a Select Few Who Had Proven Their Ability to Make People Tune in During Their 30-Minute Drive-Time, and Even Then Really Only Playing the Two Most Popular Songs by the Few Remaining Radio Stars, in Effect Killing Them or at Least Crippling Them and Trivializing Their Music" doesn't make for a terribly catchy song title.

I think a metafilter music challenge is in order.
posted by davejay at 3:55 PM on February 10, 2010


I couldn’t then and I can’t now name a single REO Speedwagon song.

Heh, I know the feeling.
Speedwagon combines with Journey, Air Supply, Chicago, Boston, etc into one 80's hybrid.

It's kind of like the Voltron of Arena Rock.

Which is not to say I don't know the words to all of those damn songs...
posted by madajb at 4:23 PM on February 10, 2010


Come on! This is the best REO-Speedwagon song.
posted by Sailormom at 5:00 PM on February 10, 2010


I'm still amazed that MTV played not one, but TWO Cliff Richard videos on its first day. Have I been laboring under a false impression that most Americans don't know (or care) who he is?
posted by elsietheeel at 9:03 PM on February 10, 2010


No, I think your impression's correct...Cliff Richard is almost a complete nonentity here. He was making his last big US push around the time MTV launched. Likely his videos only got played at the time because at the time MTV was playing pretty much anything they could put their hands on. (Nonwhite artists excepted, of course.)
posted by Lazlo at 11:51 PM on February 10, 2010


Not strictly true. Cliff had a couple of hits in the US in 1981. So it wasn't that MTV was playing them because they were desperate for material (though they were) -- he was a legitimate chart artist here for a millisecond. (For the second time, since he did it once before with "Devil Woman.")

"It's so funny, how we don't taaaaaalk anymore..."

I imagine that now, though, most Americans don't know who he is.
posted by litlnemo at 5:08 AM on February 11, 2010


I don't know much about Cliff
but
I would imagine that sometimes it must be difficult not to feel as if
he really is a cliff
when fascists keep trying to push him over it.

All of MTV's sins are forgiven for showing The Young Ones.
posted by mintcake! at 5:23 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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