Saturday marks the anniversary of the debut of MTV, which revolutionized the music industry. The very first video they showed was “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles. Everybody knows this. This is basic music trivia. It’s “MTV history for $100” on Jeopardy! type stuff. However, MTV didn’t just air one video and call it a day. What about the videos that came in the wake of “Video Killed the Radio Star?” They don’t have the iconic status of The Buggles, but they were part of the early history of the channel.
“You Better Run” by Pat Benatar
Pat Benatar hit it pretty big with later music videos, such as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and, in particular “Love Is A Battlefield.” Before Benatar and her lady friends dance-fought a pimp, though, she had the second video on MTV with “You Better Run.” It’s pretty much what you expect from an early music video, just the band performing in what appears to be a rundown warehouse. Benatar dances around and tries to add some virility to the proceedings, but it’s pretty staid, even with the fading cuts. Bonus points for Benatar’s dope leather pants, though.
“She Won’t Dance with Me” by Rod Stewart
Benatar is a notable name, but Stewart is a huge name, and thanks to his work with Faces and his single “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” he was a well-known commodity by the time “She Won’t Dance With Me” rolled around. That doesn’t mean this video makes any more sense though. It’s sort of a performance video, but it’s more out there than “You Better Run.” They are in a polka dot room and Stewart is wearing what can only be described as windbreaker pajamas. Honestly, it feels almost like something you’d see on a Tim and Eric show, but the lo-fi technology of the time period is part of that.
“You Better You Bet” by The Who
The names just keep getting bigger. The Who were legends by the time the ‘80s rolled around, but that didn’t stop this from being the most basic video of the bunch. The opening, at least on YouTube, makes sure to point out that the video was shot in black and white for artistic reasons. Even back in 1981, people had to fight off the stigma of black and white. You darn teenagers! Anyway, the video is by the books, but the song, which is not one of the classic The Who cuts, is quite good. Much poppier than expected.
“Little Suzi’s on the Up” by Ph.D.
This is a real change-up. Not just because this is the first artist that didn’t really have a long or notable career, with all due respect to the doctors of Ph.D. It’s also the first video of this bunch with anything artistic and clever and original to it. It’s completely nuts and silly. A man dances with a pig corpse! The gist of the video is that a couple of blue-collar folks have entered a dance contest and then they win and get a jar of pickled eggs. It’s basically Silver Linings Playbook. Also, a man with an eye patch keeps giving out scores for all sorts of stuff. It’s goofy as hell, but kind of fun. It’s a shame this one has fallen by the wayside.
“We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Cliff Richard
We’re back to videos that are just dudes standing around singing. There are a lot of cheap effects in this one. At least, they are cheap now. Maybe they weren’t then. We’re talking kaleidoscope stuff and floating heads and what have you. Some effort went into it. The real shame is that the seventh video played by MTV was “Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders, which is a video and song that have stood the test of time. Alas, they don’t crack this five, so there’s nothing more to be said. Sorry, Chrissie Hynde!