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Music / Video Killed the Radio Star

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"Oh-a oh-a / You were the first one / Oh-a oh-a / You are the last one"

"Video Killed the Radio Star" is a 1979 song by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley, first performed by Woolley in 1979 for his debut album English Garden, then Horn and Downes recorded their own version as The Buggles. It was also released with a promotional music video that was shot in a day on a budget of $50000.

While reaching the top ten chart positions in many Anglosphere and European countries, the song barely scraped a Top 40 position in the United States when it was first released. But then on August 1, 1981, at 12:01 AM EST, MTV had first hit the airwaves, and aptly, the music video was the very first to play after the promotional bumper. It had since been used as milestones, like when MTV played its millionth music video on February 27, 2000, or when MTV Classic opened in Ireland and the UK on March 2010.


Tropes came and broke my heart:

  • End of an Age: How television supplanted the radio as a means of entertainment.
    • And it would also serve as a harbinger of image-centric videos supplanting radio songs alone. Fittingly, it was the first music video aired on MTV.
  • Radio Song: A well-known example, with the narrator of the song reminiscing about the times listening to the radio.
  • Shout-Out: 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.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Within the first minute, the radio blew up, which eventually leads to a similar effect utilized on a pile of animated, discarded radios. Given that it's an early use of the Chroma Key, some of that first explosion bled into the little girl near the radio.


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