Video Killed the Radio Star
When is a song more than just a song? When it launches a revolution, of course.
In the fall of 1979, a new-wave group called Buggles released a zippy little ditty called “Video Killed the Radio Star”, telling the story of how kids these days (well… those days) just didn’t appreciate the radio anymore.
And why would we? Seriously, TV was it, dude. Now, if only there was somewhere that we could just sit and watch music videos 24 hours a day. That would be heaven.
Less than a year later, The Powers That Be showed that they’d been listening to our prayers, because at midnight on August 1st, 1981, we got our wish. After a guitar-driven intro featuring a man standing on the moon next to a flag that said “MTV”, we all were treated to this:
Just like that, Music Television was born, and we can’t think of a more perfect way to get things started. “Video Killed the Radio Star” not only had the right message, it was just so perfectly 80s. Of course, the fact that there weren’t a whole lot of other music videos to choose from back then may have played a small role. (80s Trivia Bonus Alert: See that guy tickling the ivories at 2:51? It’s none other than Hans Zimmer.)
The tune never did so well in the charts, only spending 10 weeks in the Hot 100 and peaking at #40 in November 1979, but sometimes it’s not the here-and-now but the legacy that makes all the difference, and if you can find a New Wave 80s compilation disc that doesn’t include “Video Killed the Radio Star”, you’re better than us.
The song was the brainchild of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, both of whom would go on to bigger and better things. Horn became a super-producer, working with the likes of Seal, Pet Shop Boys, and Faith Hill. Downes would become a god among keyboardists and a founding member of Asia.
But it was that one song at the turn of the decade that put them both on the map. It’s 3:21 of pure pop genius, and no matter what MTV looks like these days, we’ll always remember when “Video Killed the Radio Star” kicked it all off, the right way.
We ♥ Video Killed the Radio Star.