DID Video Kill the Radio Star?

The Buggles’ assertation notwithstanding, did MTV ruin any artist’s career? Perhaps their “look” wasn’t conducive to being shown on TV (although Mick Jagger is the ugliest SOB ever and he hasn’t done too bad since MTV). Or perhaps they rebelled against the music video format, refused to do videos, and faded away…

Ask Christopher Cross.

I am relunctant to say. I grew up with Video. I have no frame of reference- Pre-Videos/Post-Videos.

Why am I bothering to reply? Well… Hey look over there!

Hmm, Accept? Reasonably popular and quite talented German metal band whose singer looked like he had Downs Syndrome. Popularity really dropped after they started making videos.

I think it helped shorten the half-life of poseur metal hair bands. They’re videos were just so uninspired and ultimately laughable. Unfortunately it probably helped to spawn more boy bands and kept Michael Jackson afloat well past his normal shelf life.

I think MTV changed which bands would later become popular – more style, less substance. But I don’t think it had a major effect on existing bands. It took a while before MTV became an established force, and that gave enough time for the older bands to pretty much come to the natural end of their popularity.

The real career-ending event was the British invasion, led by the Beatles, in 1964. At that point a swarm of new groups with a new sound made most of the existing artists sound dated, and a lot of established groups came to a very abrupt end.

Billy Squier’s career was ruined by a video, “My Kinda Lover.” In that case, however, it was A bad video, not video as a medium.

The only band I know of that ever refused to do videos is Pearl Jam. After the massive success of “Jeremy” Pearl Jam never appeared in another video (although they did release one animated video years later). This did hurt their career, but it didn’t ruin it.

No, radio programmers killed the “radio star”. Many great acts in the early 80s were stifled by suits who dictated that only certain typed of music gets played on radio playlists. If anything, MTV helped to give bands like the Buggles, Duran Duran and Cyndi lauper exposure that the radio stations might not have given them.

The song “Video Killed The Radio Star” was written, recorded, & converted into a video before MTV came on the air for the first time. It was one of the first videos MTV ever showed.

Music Videos have been around since the 50’s—but they were never intended for public consumption. They were used by bands, producers & record companies to market albums within the industry. Made by the music industry, exclusively for the music industry. A few New York DJs showed them in discos as a novelty, & things took off from there.

The lyrics in the song refer to the process of television taking away the role previously held by radio–that of the primary source of news & entertainment.

IIRC, it was the first video MTV showed.

  • s.e.

Dudes, please don’t forget that “video” doesn’t specifically refer to music videos? Rather, it refers to a type of media. Television itself is a form of video, as are the movies.

Bosda Di’Chi of Tricor is exactly right. The song isn’t about music videos. It’s about television.

I think video may have highlighted the near-zero stage presence of some bands/artists. Gee, you mean some folks go to a concert just to hear the music played live? The very idea!

For a long time Metallica refused to do videos, then they made a video for ‘One’ off of their fourth album, supposedly to show that a metal band could make a video that wasn’t full of smoke, explosions, and scantily-clad babes. It debuted at number 1 on MTVs Top 20 Video countdown, caused their record sales to go through the roof, and on their next album they mellowed out their sound and released several cheesey videos. Though video didn’t destroy their career, it ruined the band for many of their fans.

Vinnie Virginslayer, that’s the conclusion that my friends and I came to - that radio killed the radio star, not video. Ironically, MTV probably saved the careers of a number of artists, and helped a lot of lesser-known bands get greater public exposure. MTV wasn’t dictated by the corporate industry interest that radio was becoming enslaved to in the 80’s. That’s changed now MTV is now a horrible example of pop culture gone wrong. It is ironic indeed that we may need the radio this time to “save” pop culture (if we accept the notion that it needs saving, or can be saved, against the whim of the general populace). Too bad that very few young people have any interest in radio compared to TV, or that what radio they do listen to is the same ratings-driven drivel that plays what they see/hear on MTV…