In celebration of MTV turning 30 years old this week, Stereogum went digging through the vaults, and decided to post up the first hour of programming the cable network ever saw fit to air. Upon sifting through this 60 minutes of television, I immediately found myself longing for a time when the entity known as Music Television actually scheduled content having to do with popular music. Considering the channel could have become a monumental flop, I’ve always felt it was a pretty bold move to come out of the gates with “Video Killed the Radio Star”, but I suppose leading off with this particular clip is evidence enough that the folks pulling the strings at MTV really felt like they were really onto something.
Considering the channel was supposed to be a relatively hip entity at the time of its inception, I was surprised at a number of the video selections they chose to include withing their inaugural hour. Granted, The Pretenders clip was probably a bit jarring at the time, but many of the ensuing videos that were shown featured a vast array of classic rock fossils and soft-rock schlock. I was half expecting to be inundated with Billy Idol sneers, and shots of Madonna writhing around in a wedding dress, but was instead given Cliff Richard and a balding Pete Townshend.
Now I love The Who as much as the next jerk, but I’d be willing to bet most youngsters didn’t run out to the record store to buy Face Dances upon seeing Roger Daltry don a heavily-shoulder-padded white blazer. This resentment could stem from the fact that I’ve always had some trouble backing a post-Moonie Who line-up, but how do you rationalize showing two Rod Stewart within your first 60 minute window? I’ll give MTV the benefit of the doubt on this one, and choose to believe that the pool of videos they were able to choose from at the time was pretty shallow.
Anyway, video content aside, these youtube clips act as a priceless pop-culture time capsule in our current reality-based television landscape. I’m sure most of the American population is acutely aware of the fact that The Buggles were given the opening slot on MTV, but I’ll guess that most folks had no idea that Pat Benetar’s ”You Better Run” was slotted second. While this chunk of info could only be described trivial in the grand scheme of things, this is the exact type useless knowledge that makes my brain tick. I live for this sort of retarded minutia, and I’m sure there are many more out there just like me.- Zaius