On the stroke of midnight on August 1, 1981, MTV staff congregated round half a dozen TV units in Fort Lee, New Jersey. No cable operator in Manhattan but carried the inchoate station, so celebrations had been held at a bar and restaurant known as the Loft. The primary evening was, as community co-founder and government Bob Pittman put it, “a complete, unmitigated catastrophe.” It didn’t matter. Historical past had been made.
In its nascent stage, MTV seemed loads totally different from what one would possibly see on, let’s say, August 1, 1984. Most noticeably, there was an overabundance of British rockers represented. This phenomenon led to a second “British Invasion” and a popularization of the style often called “new wave.” In a 1983 Rolling Stone article, Parker Puterbaugh wrote, “[O]n July sixteenth … no fewer than 18 singles of British origin charted within the American High Forty, topping the earlier excessive of fourteen, set on June 18th, 1965.”
The reason is slightly easy: When bands couldn’t (or most popular to not) mime their music on the British music program High Of The Pops, they’d ship in a pre-filmed video. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a music some argue is the primary fashionable music video, was recorded for this system as a result of the band felt the music was too complicated to lip-sync. The “Video Killed The Radio Star” vid debuted on that present in 1979, three years earlier than it grew to become MTV’s first clip.
MTV didn’t invent the music video. Australia was airing promotional band clips as early as 1974 on its reveals Sounds and Countdown. Within the US, there was the unhosted sequence Video Live performance Corridor (1978-1981), adopted by cable applications akin to PopClips (hosted by former Monkee Mike Nesmith) and Hollywood Heartbeat (hosted by former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch). Each pre-date the community, although every had a comparatively quick lifespan (1980-1981 for each). So whereas video clips had a televised historical past, MTV created demand for much more of them.
And 40 years in the past this week, it grew to become the primary community dedicated to music movies. MTV performed 116 movies on the station’s first day. The published, whereas overwhelmingly white, ran the musical gamut: nation, heavy metallic, new wave, rap (albeit by Blondie), and reggae had been all represented. Stereogum has ranked the 40 greatest.