The big bang, dinosaurs, electricity, the moon landing and MTV. These days it’s considered sacrilegious to line those events up in the same sentence to imply some sort of mutual significance. But once upon a time, there was nothing more formidable than Music TeleVision. Credit where credit’s due, MTV changed the face of music, pop culture, and mankind forever (long live the Kardashians). Fans of irony might enjoy that The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the very first music video to be aired on the channel’s first day of broadcast. It was the first expression of the channel’s signature rock ‘n’ roll arrogance or as MTV cofounder Bob Pittman put it: “It made an aspirational statement […] We didn’t expect to be competitive with radio, but it was certainly a sea-change kind of video.”
All of the cultural significance aside, the video itself is still pretty cool. In a way that you’re never quite sure if it’s a parody of itself or if that’s genuinely what the 80s were all about. Highlights include: tinsel-wigged test-tube ladies, spotting the camera operator’s shadow more than once, and oh yes that’s a young Hans Zimmer playing keys at the back. It was the landmark music video for director Russel Mulcahy who went on to establish himself as one of the most prominent music video directors of the 1980s. All from a day’s work in South London. Not bad at all.