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Video made the radio star

MTV changed the music industry on August 1, 1981

Web posted on: Friday, July 31, 1998 4:00:02 PM

A NewsStand: CNN & Entertainment Weekly report

NEW YORK (CNN) -- "Pictures came and broke her heart," came the lyrics from the first song on MTV -- the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." It turns out, video now makes the radio star, thanks to that fateful day back on August 1, 1981, when music ventured into the realm of television.

In the early days of MTV, music videos became a vehicle to revive veteran rock stars like Rod Stewart and promote hot, new acts like The Stray Cats.

The first videos had small budgets and production values to match, but kids were hooked, and clever videos like Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" were the response. Music videos soon became the most innovative stuff on TV. Some, like A-Ha's "Take on Me" -- which stepped between reality and the world of illustration -- set new standards in special effects and animation.

DISCUSSION:
What do you think of the direction MTV has taken since its inception? Go to the boards!

The making of the material girl: MTV could stand for "Madonna Television" after all the years her videos have topped the playlists

'Play the guitar on the MTV'

Before long, MTV was the red-hot center of the music business. The videos sold records, and record companies began spending the money to make them slicker and more stylish. Michael Jackson's $1.5 million "Thriller" video helped make the album the best seller of all time.

Throughout the 1980s, MTV helped create bands like Duran Duran and Boy George's Culture Club, and Dire Straits returned the favor by placing MTV in the music: "Play the guitar on the MTV," went the lyric in their song "Money For Nothing."

And like a march through time, MTV has brought us Madonna and more Madonna and even more Madonna -- from her days acting "Like a Virgin," to her current video, "Ray of Light," which was nominated for video of the year at the upcoming MTV Music Video Awards, another MTV creation.

In the 1990s the music changed, and so did the network, which offered up so-called "Gen-X" shows like "The Real World" to the same crowd that made Kurt Cobain (above) and his grunge band Nirvana popular

MTV's influence

MTV's style, hand-held cameras and quick-cut editing had its own impact on 1980s culture. "Miami Vice" became a hit show by adopting the look of rock videos. Soon, nearly everything on TV looked like MTV. And when the '80s ended, MTV adapted to the new music of the '90s, like Seattle grunge bands Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The network also grew beyond just videos, and created hit shows like "Beavis and Butthead," "The Real World," and "Unplugged."

In 1992, MTV even "Rocked the Vote," bringing candidates together with a new generation of voters, and a new generation of questions. "Rock the Vote" received the ultimate nod of respect when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton chose to answer questions from the MTV crowd during a live interview.

One question that was asked: Is it boxers or briefs?

"Usually briefs," Clinton said.

His competitor, President George Bush, refused to go on MTV. When Clinton became president, some said that it was because he connected with younger voters through his willingness to talk to them on the music channel.

MTV has signified change in the pop culture around us, because it has helped shape the world around us.



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