Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Buggles

Go To
Geoff Downes (left) and Trevor Horn (right)
"I heard you on my wireless back in '52,
Lyin' awake intent on tuning in on you,
If I was young it didn't stop you coming through,
Oh-a oh-a"

The Buggles were a band from 1977 to 1982, recognized for the first video played on MTV, 1979's "Video Killed the Radio Star". Its members include Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. Band friend and songwriter Bruce Woolley was also integral early on, co-writing "Video" and "Clean Clean". They released only two albums, The Age of Plastic in 1980 and Adventures in Modern Recording in 1981.

Riding high on the success of The Age of Plastic, the band were asked by their management to write for the band Yes, which culminated in Yes' 1980 album Drama including Horn and Downes as members. After Yes broke up in 1981, Horn released Adventures as a glorified solo act while Downes went on to form the Progressive Rock band Asia. Horn would become one of the music industry's most in-demand producers and helped shaped the characteristic sound of 1980s pop music as the mastermind behind ZTT Records and its signees, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda, The Art of Noise and more, including Yes' 1983 comeback album, 90125.

Trevor Horn would produce major hits for decades afterward, influencing such diverse acts as Pet Shop Boys, Seal, t.A.T.u., LeAnn Rimes, and Robbie Williams. He won three BRIT Awards as a producer, and also won a Grammy.


Adventures in Modern Troping:

  • All There in the Manual: The instrumental coda to "Video Killed the Radio Star" is indexed on an album sampler as "Polythene Symphonia".
  • Blackface: The keyboard women in the "Living in the Plastic Age" video feature this as part of their body-wide makeup.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Yes, this goofy synth duo with the silly name are godfathers of New Wave music. The frontman with the funny-looking glasses? He's now one of the most influential and prolific producers in popular music.
  • End of an Age: "Video Killed the Radio Star" (for radio), "Elstree" (for the British film industry).
  • Foreshadowing: The bass-heavy "I Love You (Miss Robot)" points towards their later contributions to the Yes album Drama, which is stylistically similar.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: "I Love You (Miss Robot)".
  • I Am the Band: Adventures in Modern Recording is pretty much a Trevor Horn solo album, as Geoff Downes had joined Asia.
  • Iconic Item: Trevor Horn's glasses, to the point where the cover of Adventures in Modern Recording features them prominently as a hint that Horn basically was The Buggles at that point.
  • Imaginary Friend: "Kid Dynamo" has the titular character, a fictitious creation remembered by an adult whose over-exposure to media as a child has him recalling Dynamo into action on a daily basis.
  • Lead Bassist: Trevor Horn.
  • Lyrical Dissonance (if not outright Hypocritical Humor): Pretty much their entire output was synthesised shiny hypermodern machine pop... bemoaning the impact of technology on modern life.
  • New Technology Is Evil: The world outlook on The Age of Plastic is depression and disappointment with the embracement of technology at that time in society.
  • Radio Song: Their Signature Song.
  • Raygun Gothic: Most of their lyrics.
  • Rearrange the Song: "I am a Camera" went through this twice, starting as a demo that got fleshed out as the Yes song "Into the Lens" before being revisited by the Buggles on Adventures in Modern Recording. The latter is atmospheric, minor-key Synth-Pop compared to the major-key Progressive Rock of the Yes version, and the Buggles' version lacks Yes' rewrites.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Their name is a take off of The Beatles, based on an idea they had about a futuristic dystopia in which scientists produce artificial perversions of classic pop music.
    • "Video Killed the Radio Star" is based on the short story "The Sound-Sweep" by J.G. Ballard, about a mute boy who "vacuums up" sound in a future where ultra-sonic sound has replaced audible, regular sound, happening upon an opera singer in an abandoned theatre.
    • The music video for "Living in the Plastic Age" includes footage from Space Invaders.
    • "Elstree" is an extended ode to the film studio of the same name, with the music video reenacting the kinds of movies that were shot there in the early 20th century.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": They did, though whoever designed their sleeves didn't always (both albums notably just feature "Buggles" on them.)
  • The Stoic: Geoff Downes hardly ever emotes in his performances.
  • Surreal Music Video: The video for "Living in the Plastic Age" features a cavalcade of strange and incongruous scenes involving cave monks, space age landscapes, Space Invaders, and women painted to look like phone booths and pianos, among other sights.
  • Title Track: Played with "Living in the Plastic Age" on The Age of Plastic. Played straight on Adventures In Modern Recording.