Time Magazine is offering a Top 10 list of MTV’s biggest moments, which got me to thinking a bit about my love/hate relationship with the music video network.
Beavis and Butthead, Nirvana Unplugged, and The Real World are all on the list. Oddly, only two music videos make the grade: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (duh) and the very first video played on MTV, the Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
I’m a huge fan of 80s New Wave music, and MTV is solely to blame for that. I was there at the beginning, and I can still remember how engrossing those little music films were when I was in high school and college.
Music videos weren’t really new in 1981 when MTV exploded onto cable television. Musicians with plenty of money were making short films in the 60s and 70s. But it wasn’t until video really began to take over that music video as the basis for a viable television network became reality.
For me, those early MTV years were fantastic. Music video as a form of creative expression led to some brilliant, beautiful, fun and creative works. The images of Duran Duran’s “Rio”, Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio,” Dire Straights “Money for Nothing,” Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” and many more still live in my head, reinforced by a few hours on the SiriusXM 80s channel or a RockBand2 session.
Of course, MTV eventually devolved into a reality TV network. I gave up on it a long time ago. But the music lives on!