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The first two hours of MTV (1981) [video] (youtube.com)
206 points by bookofjoe on Aug 8, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 134 comments

Strangely enough, Australian artists were uniquely well-prepared for the emergence of MTV.

There was a national Saturday night pop music show called Countdown [1], that ran from 1974, featuring live performances and music videos, so Australian bands had nearly a decade head start to develop the art of music video.

This was a major factor in the USA success of INXS, Men at Work, AC/DC and Olivia Newton-John, as they'd started out in the late 70s, and when MTV started, they already had great music videos in the can and were well placed to make more.

When most videos were just of the group on a studio stage performing the song (e.g., Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing [2]), INXS and other bands of the time had arthouse filmmakers like Richard Lowenstein [3] doing much more creative work.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countdown_(Australian_TV_progr...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_7qkRwcMFc

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lowenstein

This is a pretty hot take. INXS had no MTV visibility until around 4 or 5 years after the channel started, by which time, plenty of artists had done "creative work". AC/DC was popular, but they pretty much ONLY released straight performance videos. Contrast them with Van Halen, who also initially released concert videos, although they recognized the power of the medium and focused on David Lee Roth's crazy leg kicks and Eddie's solos to make extremely watchable videos... and later pivoted to classic studio videos like Hot For Teacher. Olivia Newton-John's enormous popularity was due to Grease, not MTV. If anything, despite her one big hit (Physical), her career under-performed, compared to other female solo acts of her era (Madonna, Cyndi Lauper).

And then you top it off by naming Dire Straits as an example of "just performing the song" when ultimately, that exact band released perhaps the most iconic and unforgettable video of all time.

Sure, AC/DC wasn’t such a great example; I added that as an afterthought. And yep, ONJ already had US success - but she was able to hit the ground running with cool videos when MTV started, and she’d been big on Countdown for a few years before Grease happened.

But the point holds up well for Men at Work, INXS and also Split Enz.

INXS’s first US chart success came in 1983 with Shabooh Shoobah, that was recorded in 1982. The video for The One Thing [1], though low-budget, was very much not a filmed performance of the song, whereas the Van Halen videos I can find from that era were (though of course Van Halen would have been fast to catch up, innovators that there were). Then in 1983 they released Original Sin [2], which was produced by Nile Rodgers and had Daryl Hall singing backing vocals, so they were already in the big league by then. The albums The Swing (1984) and Listen Like Thieves (1985) all charged well in the US, thanks in big part to cool videos and MTV airplay.

Split Enz was one of the very first bands shown on MTV, with History Never Repeats [3]. They originated from New Zealand but were active in Australia and appeared on Countdown a lot, and thus had cool videos ready to go.

As for Dire Straits, the whole reason I mentioned the pre-MTV track Sultans of Swing was for its contrast with their work after MTV was established.

[1] https://youtu.be/XJyKTNdPL5s

[2] https://youtu.be/PTULqzrhBWA

[3] https://youtu.be/tzuJXqgsiSM

Split Enz? I mean, ok, but I'll take Talking Heads if we're comparing bands "well-prepared for the emergence of MTV." Once In a Lifetime was released in 1980. Enough said.

Men At Work made a terrific song in Down Under, and an excellent video. Wish we'd heard more from Colin Hay.

INXS is a fine band, but hardly pioneers of music videos, and despite what you wrote, were virtually invisible on MTV until 1985 and really didn't hit their stride until the Kick album in 1987. Given that MTV launched in 1981, INXS does not bolster your initial statement that "Australian artists were uniquely well-prepared for the emergence of MTV." To suggest that Van Halen needed to "catch up" is absurd, given that 1984 was released in, you guessed it, 1984. You also seem to think performance videos are inferior to concept videos... Van Halen's greatest strength as a band was their performances. Check out Unchained... insanely great from DLR's first leap to the massive wall of speakers, to the fans enthusiasm, to lighting Alex's gong on fire at the end. Impossible to watch without wanting to go see them live.

> Wish we'd heard more from Colin Hay.

Colin Hay is amazing and still touring. His show is a mixture and songs and storytelling. He has some good stories about the crazy times during Men At Work's peak.

Just in the last half-hour he appeared on our TV screen here in Australia as part of an Olympics retrospective – gave a spoken tribute to the Australian team and belted out an acoustic rendition of Down Under. Never gets old.

OK, you're trying to refute my assertions by interpreting my comments as (a) portraying these acts as having been dominant on MTV from the start, and (b) dismissing US acts like Van Halen as being behind and bad at video, and suggesting that there were zero US acts making concept videos then. I'm doing neither, and I'm certainly not dissing Van Halen, or performance videos! I'd only point out that Van Halen's videos in 1981 for So This Is Love [1] and Unchained [2] were very basic compared to the ones they started making from 1982 and particularly from 1984, after MTV got up and running. But I'm not making value judgements about any of it, I'm just commenting on an interesting thing that was going on in Australia in the years before MTV started.

What I'm really pointing out is that these emerging Australian/NZ acts only got any MTV airplay at all because they were already quite adept in the art of music video, and were well positioned to take advantage of this new platform, which is surprising for a region so small, remote, and not normally known for cultural innovation.

In the case of Split Enz, they are in the very video we're talking about – twice. They were the 10th act ever played on MTV. They wouldn't have been there if they didn't have good videos already made. Several of their later videos also earned airplay on MTV, and their successor band Crowded House built on this to achieve some major US chart success in 86-87.

Re. Men at Work, their profile on Allmusic states "Their funny, irreverent videos became MTV favorites, helping send "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under" to number one."

INXS may not have seemed very visible on MTV in the early days to you (I assume you're basing these arguments on your own recollections), but they were absolutely there, and there's a direct path from their first appearances in 82-83 to the huge success of Kick a few years later. Of 1982/3's The One Thing, Wikipedia [3] (sourced from their 2005 autobiography) says "The music video was their first video to air on the fledgling MTV and went into high rotation on the channel, which added to the chart success of the single in the US." (That track made it to #30 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on Billboard Top Tracks).

If you use Google Books to search for "MTV" in that autobiography [4], you can read how their management was very deliberate and strategic in leveraging their existing repertoire of music videos to get on MTV soon after it launched, to tour the US extensively off the back of the profile they were building via MTV, and ride that all the way to the top with Kick only four years later.

I'm not insisting that INXS's early videos are masterpieces - clearly they're not. But they were a continuation of a trend that had been building in Australia since 1974, and the band was surrounded by people who understood the format and the industry trends very well by then, so when MTV arrived they were good to go.

But also, from reading about Countdown [5] now, I'm reminded it wasn't just about AU/NZ acts getting their start. Countdown was a platform where several US/European acts found early success, leading to later signings and/or chart success in the bigger markets. Blondie, Abba, Meatloaf, John Mellencamp and Bob Scaggs are some of the acts that found success in Australia earlier than elsewhere, thanks to Countdown, and presumably it helped at least some of them learn about the music video medium earlier than others. Talking Heads appeared live on Countdown in 1981, and Once In a Lifetime charted much better in Australia than in the US. Indeed, one of Van Halen's first ever TV interviews was for Countdown, filmed in London in 1978 [6].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfxG7BRn7xs

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojNrj-sWfpk

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_One_Thing_(song)

[4] https://books.google.com.au/books?redir_esc=y&id=MxTMEwwCIK8...

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countdown_(Australian_TV_progr...

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ymyADifQtA

Your best argument would have been to point out that Video Killed The Radio Star, Bette Davis Eyes, Young Turks, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Gypsy, Hungry Like The Wolf and Rio -- all very early MTV hits -- were all directed by Australian Russell Mulcahy.

> sourced from their 2005 autobiography

you do realize, right, that you can't accept the band's own authorized biography (i.e. propaganda) as a reliable source for how popular or successful they were?

> OK, you're trying to refute my assertions by interpreting my comments as (a) and (b)

No, no, no. I'm not interpreting, I'm not twisting, or inferring. You stated that Aussies were "uniquely well-prepared." You said that. UNIQUELY. You ARE saying that Australians were ready while others were not -- that's what "uniquely" means, literally. You also said "most videos were just of the group on a studio stage," which isn't remotely true.

Lastly, I call myself out for being petty and pedantic. Arguing the merits of this band or that band is ultimately futile, as is getting in a debate about something meant to entertain. But given the origins of my username, there's a certain obligation to set the facts straight here :)

For the record:

- That's not what I meant by uniquely. By unique I was referring to Countdown, which was unique for its format, its popularity, and for its influence, which is why several of the world's biggest acts since the 70s-80s hold Countdown in such affection, and regard its host Molly Meldrum as a pioneer and a friend. Nobody else has mentioned any primetime shows that played a lot of music video clips, in the US or anywhere else in the world, any where near as early as Countdown. The earliest I can find in the US is Video Concert Hall from 1978/9, but that didn't seem to have great prominence. The Wikipedia page on Music Video [1], in the section "1974–1980: Beginnings of music television" names Countdown and its rival show, Sounds, in the very first sentence. (I wasn't thinking of Sounds as I'm not old enough to remember it well and it's not as widely reminisced about here, but it was part of the same ecosystem). You helpfully mention Russell Mulcahy - who got his start producing music videos for Sounds. So the very first song ever played on MTV has a direct link back to the music shows that started in Australia in 1974. None of this is to say that no other acts in the world were at all well-prepared, obviously. It was just a different kind of preparation. And yep it's boring/lame to fixate on a strict definition of single word used in an obviously hand-wavy comment at the start of the thread, but that notwithstanding, it's clearly an incorrect interpretation of what I meant, particularly given my later comments.

- We're at the point of debating the interpretation of the word "most", which is a sure sign it's time to walk away, but another commenter made the effort to go through the first twelve clips in this MTV video to compare styles and artist origins [2]. I have no problem conceding that UK acts were also doing more artistic video work, due to Top of the Pops running a long time, even if most of that program's content was live performances.

- INXS's Billboard hits from 1983 and 1985/86 are there for us all to see in the historical records [3]. But it's "propaganda" for the band to recount that airplay on MTV helped them get there? OK then. Let's hear from Alan Hunter [4], who was an MTV VJ at the time: 'Beginning in 1982, he recalls VJs “being called into meetings with executives, who told us there was an arrangement between Atlantic and the network. We were going to see if MTV could break a band.” INXS, he says, served as a guinea pig, and indeed, heavy video rotation of its debut U.S. single, “The One Thing,” in 1983, helped drive the song to No. 30 on the Hot 100.'

Finally, I have learned a huge amount from this discussion, so thanks for your part in that.

And you should look up some videos of Countdown on YouTube. It really was awesome :)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_video

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28111528

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INXS_discography#Singles

[4] https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/magazine-feature/800...

Note that INXS also trotted out the "filmed performance" video for Don't Change from Shabooh Shoobah and was one of, if not the, first hit for the band internationally.

We're talking about trends not absolutes!

The first INXS video that got regular play on MTV was The One Thing, which was a concept video.

Their other early videos up to and including Don't Change were mostly live performance, though they all used more interesting locations and effects than other videos around that time.

But they really hit their straps with the videos they made in 1983 and 1984 for The Swing, some in Japan with Yasuhiko Yamamoto, and the others with Richard Lowenstein, who had been doing music videos for Australian acts since about 1979.

Sultans came 3-4 years before MTV and ~7 years before "money for nothing" but it's a funny example artist to choose, I agree. "Money for nothing" was an early iconic video and interesting early use of CG.

Yeah I chose it because it was such a contrast with Money for Nothing, illustrating how things changed with MTV.

There's a more iconic "video" than Subterranean Homesick Blues?

Here's the first 12 videos they played. It's a mix of American and "foreign" (mostly UK) bands, but it's interesting to compare the different styles. The UK (and NZ) videos are slick, artistically produced music videos in the modern style we'd recognise today. But the US ones are mostly just simple recordings of the bands performing live. Did the US just not have the concept of music videos before MTV came along?

  The Buggles (UK)
  Pat Benatar (USA)
  Rod Stewart (UK)
  The Who (UK)
  Ph.D. (UK)
  The Pretenders (UK, but the singer was American)
  Todd Rundgren (USA)
  Styx (USA)
  Robin Lane & The Chartbusters (USA)
  Split Enz (New Zealand)
  38 Special (USA)
  Rod Stewart (again!) (UK)

There were music videos on US TV before MTV. Night Flight was on Weekends around midnight.

Night Flight was on Weekends around midnight

I guess the point is that Countdown in Australia and Top of the Pops in the UK were prime time and very mainstream.

In Australia then there were only four TV channels (with no subscription TV), and Countdown on Saturday evening was the thing that most kids/teenagers watched, in many cases with their parents. And without even many music radio stations operating, it was a primary way people discovered new music, and it was a hugely influential program.

A lot of artists we remember as the biggest bands of the late 70s and 80s – e.g., Blondie, ABBA, John Mellencamp, Meat Loaf, Boz Scaggs and Cyndi Lauper – had their first chart success anywhere in the world in Australia, thanks to being played on Countdown. Politicians would go on there when campaigning. Prince Charles even appeared in a famously bad interview.

Wasn't Top of The Pops all film of the bands in a studio live/miming-over-a-recording, though? I don't see how that would provide a head-start for producing music videos...

> Wasn't Top of The Pops all film of the bands in a studio live/miming-over-a-recording, though?

Not at all. There were videos being shown at least as far back as 1979 (around when I can vaguely remember first seeing the show). From a cursory search, here's a Thin Lizzy video from June that year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnkHDtqpETE&t=905s

I don't know! If it was, it strengthens my point.

Others seemed to be trying to refute my original comments by saying that Top of the Pops had been running for years before Countdown, but if it was just showing mimed live performances rather than concept videos, then my original assertion that AU/NZ had a head start is solid after all.

Edit: As a sibling commenter pointed out, a video Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was shown in 1975, and The Beatles had already made the Yellow Submarine movie, so yep, artists in the UK were certainly experimenting with the medium.

But it seems both the UK and Australia were a bit ahead of music video being a big thing in the US.

Yes, but they also played music videos:


HBO also aired videos periodically between movies, prior to MTV's existence.

> the US ones are mostly just simple recordings of the bands performing live

"The band has to do a concert, let's record the live album and the music video at the same time. Three birds with the same stone!" -- Producer, probably

I actually just looked this up as I was curious of what preceded MTV (I wondered if it was a chicken and egg problem. Did MTV have to convince bands to createmusic videos?). The answer seems to be that Australia had been innovators in this space and the US was just catching up to the music video concept, so there were probably less US bands with music videos ready for the launch of MTV.

The Monkees did a music video or two in each episode, from the late 60s.

I remember it all quite clearly as a kid. It was the first time I heard "Brass In Pocket" by the Pretenders which is still such a great hit single and the best of that first two hours. It became the first song that I associated with the video right from the beginning.

I saw INXS in Cardiff in 1990ish, always been a fan of AC/DC - never saw them live though. I remember M@W's iconic "(I come from a land) Down Under" absolutely smashing it out of the park on the UK's Top of the Pops.

I think you'll find that one or two other bands produced videos as well as their music:

The Beatles did Yellow Submarine and a few other tunes back in the day - Sgt Peppers is quite well thought of too. The Who did Pinball wizard and the like. Sir Cliff Richard did pretty much everything, with and without the Shadows! The Strolling Bones, err Rolling Stones ran out one or two tunes and a few decent vids. Duran Duran were a bit later. David Bowie managed to keep a tune and a look. Queen have a few fans.

Why do you need to single out Australian artists? There is no need to get all chauvinistic. Music is universal. I am a fan of AC/DC, Bach, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Beethoven, Iron Maiden, Rachmaninov, Black Sabbath, Kylie, that bloke wot wrote Finlandia and rather a lot more.

Not intending to chauvinistic/nationalistic! Most of my favorite artists these days are non-Australian. I was just pointing out a notable historical phenomenon. As someone else pointed out, UK had Top of the Pops from the 60s, hence a lot of the UK acts also doing artistic videos, whereas US artists were generally just doing recorded live performances at the beginning.

> "There was a national Saturday night pop music show called Countdown [1], that ran from 1974"

... which was surely inspired by the BBC's "Top Of The Pops", which began in 1964:


Right, and as another commenter pointed out, the UK artists shown at the start of MTV were also doing more artistic videos, whereas US acts tended to do more straight filmed performances.

When I was late teens early 20's I didn't want to go out, I wanted to stay home and watch RAGE!

I'd only sleep once the started the countdown in the early hours of the morning.

RAGE was a great way to discover new music - basically a mix of JJJ Unearthed (video edition) along with new US and UK indie videos.

I really loved the guest programming as well.

Agree. It was how a lot of us Aussies would learn the iconic songs that inspired bands and there was a lot of commonality despite the resulting bands being very different. Its how we knew about The Pixies way before 'that movie' came out, and if you watched Rage guest programmed more than twice, chances are you found out who The Smiths were.

The Rage programmers were great, MTV in comparison had a lot of excitement but more production and less music, and it didn't help that our local MTV in Australia was hosted by Richard Wilkins...

Rage was no-nonsense exposure to music, MTV was more about the hype, although Public Enemy did get broadcast on both.

Music videos can be a great artform, but we're probably slowly losing them thanks to digital consumption diversity and attention deficit surplus which was ironically heavily encouraged by MTV's fast and furious editing style.

While I see others disagreeing with this, I do find it really interesting and think that this in an interesting angle to dive into—how musicians in other countries prepared for MTV without even realizing it.

It’s worth noting that Olivia Newton-John was well-known to American audiences thanks to Grease and the fact that she already had a longstanding music career in the U.S. by the time MTV came along, but certainly it might have helped with the production values on “Physical.”

Also had country tunes in the 70s and Xanadu in 80.

The same MTV effect is credited with boosting the US success of UK New Wave and synthpop acts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_British_Invasion .

Conversely, as other have pointed out, the advent of MTV wasn't such great news if you happened to be a black performer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTV#Breaking_the_'color_barrie...

> When most videos were just of the group on a studio stage performing the song [..] other bands of the time had arthouse filmmakers [..] doing much more creative work.

As a teen, this made me consider same-song-performance-but-on-video artists as lazy and cheap, and single-handedly fueled my appreciation for Australian bands. Didn't know they pioneered the concept.

Also, RAGE is the longest (still) running music TV show in the world


For those who care curious. The videos that were removed from the video are not listed here.[0]

The Buggles - Video Killed the Radio Star

Pat Benatar - You Better Run

Rod Stewart - She Won’t Dance With Me

The Who - You Better You Bet

PH.D - Little Susie’s On The Up

Pretenders - Brass in Pocket

Todd Rundgren - Time Heals

REO Speedwagon - Take it on the Run (partial - promo for upcoming MTV-aired concert)

Styx - Rockin Paradise

Robin Lane and the Chartbusters - When Things Go Wrong

Split Enz - History Never Repeats

38 Special - Hold on Loosely

Rod Stewart - Sailing

Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden

REO Speedwagon - Keep on Loving You (partial - promo for upcoming MTV-aired concert)

Michael Johnson - Bluer than Blue (not labeled)

Pretenders - Message of Love

Lee Ritenour - Mr Briefcase

The Cars - Double Life

Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight

Robert Palmer - Looking for Clues

Shoes - Too Late

Stevie Nicks - Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

Rupert Hine - Surface Tension

Split Enz - One Step Ahead

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street

Pat Benatar - I’m Gonna Follow You

Tom Johnston - Savannah Nights

Rockestra - Lucille (from “Concerts for the people of Kampuchea” charity concerts)

Styx - The Best of Times

Carly Simon - Vengeance

Juice Newton - Angel of the Morning

Rock Pile - Little Sister (from “Concerts for the people of Kampuchea” charity concerts)

[0] See video description on YouTube for details or an earlier comment.

(Edited repeatedly for formatting and to add footnote)

Younger HN readers won’t be able to understand this, but these were some good times, when we had MTV playing music videos all the time without all the silly reality shows and when the majority of the music video clips had a meaning, were relevant to the song and were well directed.

I remember when The Real World first dropped, and after a few weeks VJs spent more time talking about what happened rather than new music. I knew that was the beginning of the end.

I remember when Honey boo boo started playing on the learning channel.

I think that marks the beginning of the end of the human race.

Ah yes, I remember when "TLC" stood for The Learning Channel and "A&E" was Arts and Entertainment. Saw an ad for the Smithsonian Channel today and remarked "How long till the dumb down the content and rebrand as The S Network?"

Playing reruns of that 90's show Dinosaurs.

I don't know if you remember this but MTV had very little variety with music videos, at least in those early years. I cannot tell you the number of times I saw "Little Red Corvette"[1] and "Jeopardy"[2] at a friend's house while he insisted on having MTV on for hours. Those songs are etched in my brain for life now.

IMO MTV did a really good job of expanding beyond music videos, though I didn't personally watch it past Liquid Television.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0KpfrJE4zw [2] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAJNwPWVmNc

I remember as a kid MTV being entirely music videos and I could watch until they looped to the one song I liked again. Then I remember as a teenager still being mostly music videos, or shows about music, but there were a few others like road rules and real world. And then by the time I was in college it was a channel almost completely devoid of music and that mostly played weird fake dating shows.

This limited catalogue did lead to an interesting opportunity though - if you were competent enough and could produce an interesting video you could get a bit more exposure than you could otherwise expect. So things like "Mexican Radio"[0] by Wall of Voodoo emerged, not to mention "Dog Police"[1] by Dog Police.

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyCEexG9xjw

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78Y-1plYJuQ

Younger and international HN readers*. Sorry just doing my part to make the English web less US-centric.

We had a similar phenomenon on MTV, which made up the bulk of the programming on channel 4, in New Zealand. Is it really that US centric? The UK has their own MTV programming too, don't they?

MTV was definitely not a US-only affair. It was popular in the Netherlands too.

Look at this:


Not that bad, but then you realize that there isn't a single cut in the video.

32 years earlier - Underworld filmed a similar length clip for Underneath The Radar [0] in a single cut.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVrVERNeCPE

Yeah, those were great days.

MTV was always on the tv at the bowling center, kids would hang around for hours. If somebody had a house party, MTV was sure to be on.

It was a big part of growing up at the time.

9:00 into their first broadcast:

"The music will continue nonstop"

The reality shows, and internet clip shows are brilliant on a business level though.

All that mindless footage is basically free. You pay a handful of very replaceable hosts, and rake in the viewers.

(I watch that show with Rob Dierdrik. (He is not talented enough for a spell check--sorry.) Yes--I find the videos amusing. The commentary is tiring, but I still like looking at Chanel West Coast. I don't think that woman has ever wore the same outfit? Her wardrobe closet must be huge, or they are donated clothes? Yes---I need a life.)

No black singers or bands you'll notice...

Worth watching:

"David Bowie Criticizes MTV for Not Playing Videos by Black Artists | MTV News"


Remarkable. I didn't watch the whole 2 hours, or even properly skim it all, but it was incredibly white. Were they worried they wouldn't be marketable if they weren't almost 100% white?

This bit from Wikipedia is kind of amusing and suggests MTV may have been an MVP:

> ... Occasionally the screen went black when an employee at MTV inserted a tape into a VCR.[20] MTV's lower third graphics near the beginnings and ends of videos eventually used the recognizable Kabel typeface for about 25 years; but they varied on MTV's first day, speaking in a different typeface, and including details such as the song's year and record label.


None of that mattered though:

> MTV's effect was immediate. Within two months, record stores where MTV was available were selling music local radio stations were not playing, such as Men at Work, Bow Wow Wow and the Human League.[27] MTV also sparked the Second British Invasion, featuring existing videos by UK acts who had used the format for several years (for example, on BBC's Top of the Pops).

List of songs linked below and of course they had to start with Buggles "Video killed the radio star" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_first_music_videos_air...

featuring legendary composer Hans Zimmer on keyboards!

He was 22 when the song came out, he played synths and keyboards for a number of new wave groups at the start of his career.

My main MTV memory besides the daytime music programming:

MTV Europe's Most Wanted, hosted live four evenings a week by Ray Cokes, 1992-1995. I think each broadcast lasted quite some time too, like 1.5 hours at least. Saw it via the Astra 19.2E satellite feed when I was a teen. I caught a majority of the broadcasts. It really felt quite special that young people from all over Europe were watching this silly thing, live, together. He was sort of like a European Conan O'Brian.


Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LLnfR9BwWY

I wish there were more videos of the history of MTV's lower third graphics, their house style, and the evolution of those over time. Watching MTV as a kid I loved the look of the station, and how it never stood still for very long.

It is fascinating how copyright holders are forcing the removal of some of the history.

    "EDIT: Had to remove about 3.5 mins of this due to a claim by "April Wine"...I really tried to get them to understand that this was an historical archive, *not* an attempt to steal money from their band....They didn't want to hear it...All the other artist were totally ok with this but "April Wine" said FU. Go Figure : / EDIT: EDIT: Video was taken down again because Cliff Richard suddenly decided that I was ripping him off and shut down the video...I wrote back trying to get him to change his mind but no deal, had to chop Cliff out of the video for it to be posted again. Sorry everyone."

Imagine being this persnickety about any use of a song that was relevant more than 30 years ago, and hasn't really been since.

Imagine if the Rosetta Stone was digital and all ancient text inscribed there was rendered unreadable due to some for of copyright claim and following takedown. Today we would likely know squat about ancient Egyptian language.


Copyright laws are a good thing, but when they become abusive, then they do a lot more damage than having no copyright laws at all.

Imagine purposefully erasing your own tiny slice of history. Congratulations, nobody cares about you and nobody will ever again.

That's why you don't use YouTube and instead use a decentralized platform.

This belongs to archive.org not youtube.

I agree with that sentiment for sure.

No. Ignoring copyright law and people's desires for their own content, isn't the solution.

I suspect that using a platform where there isn't any way to profit at all is a better solution. But in this case, the CR owners have probably been burned for years and just don't want to have any more discussion around the matter. It is easier to just say no.

Finding solutions that make it harder to say no seems like a better goal... of course that probably means paying them.

> Ignoring copyright law and people's desires for their own content, isn't the solution.

If this were actually true, then all these other platforms wouldn't exist.

My favorite story about copyright is that the Beatles denied NASA to put "Here comes the sun" on the Voyager golden record, because NASA didn't want to pay them royalte fees.

This is why copyright should be ~10 years. Most money is made within the first year and it's a steep drop off after.

That’d probably work with music. But it’d be a disaster for authors. Often it takes more than a decade to go from book to movie, for example.

I think copyright should be much shorter, but I’m not sure it’d be right to have a bunch of knock off Harry Potter books, movies, and merch as soon as 2007.

Tolkien is the counter example. There’s no reason we should be protecting his work still today, 50 years after his death. They should be public domain by now.

Tolkien won't be out of copyright in the USA, EU and UK until 2043 :(

By which time Mickey Mouse will have lobbied to extend that yet again.

I think this is demonstrably false. The value of Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Friends and The Office is probably higher than they have ever been, given the proliferation of streaming networks. The Beatles catalog only went up in value, which is why Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson had a little tiff. David Bowie sold bonds based on future royalties. And have you noticed what's playing at the movies? It's all superheroes invented 50+ years ago.

I have an online video game and it has been making a few thousand bucks a year for over 10 years. I'm not really ready for all its art to become public domain just yet.

I'm curious what you think the art becoming public domain would do. Do you think you'd be swamped with competitors if they didn't need to spend what you did on art assets? Or other things would use that art and then users would find your game and not try it as they've seen the art?

Good point! OTOH author’s death + 70 years feels way too long.

Why is this a reason for copyright to be 10 years? I mean, that's a valid perspective (though I disagree with it), but this case doesn't provide any new information.

For the record, were did you get the idea that most money is made within the first year? Sure, for the biggest stars this might be true. But lots of "middle-tier" creators depend on royalties from copyright works early in their career to sustain them their whole life.

NASA could put the song on the next probe and promise to pay based on the number of times the song was streamed.

I guess you could say april wine were radio stars.

Lol, I get the reference, but, in this case, it’s radio stars killing video rather than vice versa.

The reference is from about 20-25 seconds in to that video, from memory.

Edit: 1:17 in. I'd forgotten about the moon launch bit...

Copyright shouldn't ever turn into a threat to culture preservation.

That’s why fair use is a thing. Which this obviously is. But most people don’t have a couple hundred k to drop on counsel.

I agree, but I don't think there is a threat here. I think this person genuinely wants to preserve culture or else they wouldn't be editing the video, giving credit and trying to contact people.

That said, youtube probably wasn't the best place to upload the video in light of all of that.

Pretty wild that MTV would have been playing someone like Cliff Richard. At a time when MTV considered itself at the cutting edge of cool, he just strikes me as so deeply ... not.

OTOH, wasn’t there a little bit of ’50s revival during the ’80s…?

yeah but I think that was caused by the Stray Cats being big with their videos on MTV - so Cliff Richard shouldn't have shown up first?

It could also be that MTV were desperate for something to show so they had to resort to old clips that where cheap to license (^_^)

your logic has no affect on me! This was obviously the work of time traveling rockabillies!

Ah. How could I not think of that? Silly me!

Ah, could be!

It's nice to see that the very first music video they played was "Video killed the radio star."

40+ years, and I've never actually seen the music video for that song...

Hans Zimmer was a member and is in the video. In the decades that follow, he would go on to compose of "No time for caution", "Dream is collapsing" and many other film score tracks.


...Rain Man, the Dark Knight trilogy... Forthcoming Dune...

And on 27 February 2000, it became the one-millionth video they played.

The very first song was "Video killed the Radio Star". How amusing. I'm sure, however, that today much more people listen to the radio than watch MTV.

In a bit of irony, I just realized that I've heard that song hundreds of times over the radio, but not until today had I ever seen the video.

I'd only ever seen a different video for the song, which had a setting like a music TV show lipsync before studio audience/extras (but I don't see any show branding on the set): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjz23Q92A4s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRXeBKys-Sw

Wikipedia only mentions the video that's in this 2-hour MTV launch video.

I was one that stayed up and watched the first broadcast. I remember it extremely well. I was a sophomore in high school, the exact demographic they were pandering to. The interstitial logo animations were the icing on the cake. Until MTV, all we had was "NightFlight" - some, I think, Australian video program on public TV at 1am.

From a time where music television actually played music

Now YouTube is where you watch music.

Anyone got the first two hours of YouTube?

I thought youtube started out at online video-dating?

edit: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/16/youtube-p...

here it is in all its glory https://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ


Here’s the first official video on YouTube (not just a test which was then deleted). “Me at the zoo” by jawed (a YouTube founder) 2005-04-23 https://youtu.be/jNQXAC9IVRw 19 seconds long

Jumped to the Carly Simon track at the end & landed on Tony Levin playing bass.

I saw him last week in Orlando, playing with King Crimson.

Not making a thought-out argument, just thinking about these things: consider the effort and training required to produce creative videos at that time. Given how few opportunities for creative people then, these were privileged positions. Nowadays, anyone can livestream on twitch from their phone in hd, yet most we see are people alone in their rooms screaming at video games.

Overall cultural impact of MTV was large, maybe because attention was concentrated on it. Individual creators on video platforms will never come close.

> Nowadays, anyone can livestream on twitch from their phone in hd, yet most we see are people alone in their rooms screaming at video games.

Of course we see a greater number of videos that are easy to create, e.g. someone playing a game and commenting on it.

However, I don’t see why we should use a count of these videos to judge the general quality of the “individual creator”. There will always be more crappy stuff compared to quality stuff since crappy stuff is easy to create.

Does exist DB, list or equivalent with all the titles of every video transmitted by MTV ordered by year ? I'm desperately looking for a video transmitted continuously in 2001, 2002 or 2003 by MTV in Europe that has a special meaning for me.

Do you know the artist/song but are just looking for the video, or do you just remember the tune/video and are looking for the artist? There is also a reddit forum devoted to this very thing called /tipofmytongue/

I only remember that in the video the band played during a basketball match and I have a vague memory of the music. I think that the group disappeared after the first album. Thank you for the advise, I'll take a look to Reddit, too !

rock / pop

Kurtis Blow - Basketball


"Dial your international access code plus four four, four eight three, four six one, oh sixe one..."

A number I never dialed is forever stuck in my mind.

Oh to be ten years old again….

Man, some really early Iron Maiden in it. Super awesome!

There's quite a variety of music there! Surprising.

I like the Superman II commercial at 10:45.

And Atari 2600 at 36:48

How come this is not taken down by DCMA?

MTV is a great example of the ability to adapt as a company. They changed with the market.

Also a great example of "old man yells at cloud"

Wiki Trivia - "A shortened version of the shuttle launch ID ran at the top of every hour in different forms, from MTV's first day until it was pulled in early 1986 in the wake of the Challenger disaster"

And the market now demands ridiculousness


It’s like an optimization algorithm running amok with no intelligent human input. 1. Show X is watched more than any other. 2. Increase scheduling of Show X! 3. Show X is being watched more. Great! 4. Increase scheduling of Show X even more! 5. GOTO 3.

Who watches this?

That is insane, funny and true (I had to check it wasn't fake)

Remember adults complaining about kids 'watching' music, and the same clips again and again with their time. It's good to see kids can still do it.


When Variety asked about the Ridiculousness’s wall-to-wall scheduling, MTV's execs there said that they were missing the point: The linear network is just a single sliver of their business, as MTV fare might be found on Facebook Watch (like The Real World reboot), or Quibi (Punk'd and Singled Out reboots), or Pluto TV (which features multiple MTV-branded channels). Soon afterward, ViacomCBS announced a revival of MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head that would run on Comedy Central (since moved to the ViacomCBS streaming service Paramount+).

Ridiculousness's Youtube channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5hk6O61heulo6Ld-ZNP6WA

I guess HN is just Ridiculousness but for adults when you think about it.

What happened to us?

We stopped watching linear cable TV.

They're a great example of selling an audience a fast drip of Morphine. The original idea - music - was viable. This [1] is a fascinating study of how the switch happened.

[1] https://www.dukeupress.edu/Assets/PubMaterials/978-1-4780-11...

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