On August 1, 1981, the world was introduced to a fascinating new creation in television programming – MTV, hilariously known as music television.
Now, this may come as a surprise, but upon MTV’s premiere the channel showed music videos. Yes, videos made to accompany single tracks used to be on TV… before YouTube existed. I know – shocking.
The first video MTV ever aired was a little ditty titled, “Video Killed the Radio Star” performed by The Buggles. The video is extremely basic… and the song is super annoying.
As this irritating song suggests, MTV became a giant success, and soon music videos were a must-have for artists looking to promote new singles. The success of artists such as Madonna, a-ha, Michael Jackson and Prince were in part attributed to ground-breaking videos developed to complement their tunes. C’mon – just watch ‘Thriller’ one more time…
In all fairness, MTV was a music promotions giant. Being seen on MTV in the 80s was a certain boost to any artist’s career. However, in the late 1980s MTV began airing non-musical content… to attract teenagers and young adults. MTV debuted animated programs such as ‘Beavis and Butthead’ and ‘Celebrity Deathmatch.’ These – were the golden years of MTV.
Once reality dramas were added to the programming schedules… things changed rapidly. The reality series ‘The Real World’ launched in 1992, and it all went downhill from there. Cartoons and music videos were slowly replaced with screaming, fighting, confessional booths and late-night contestant hook-ups.
After the success of ‘The Osborne’s', ‘Laguna Beach’ and ‘My Super Sweet Sixteen’ – MTV had officially replaced any musical content with ignorant, entitled teenagers fighting with their ignorant, entitled love interests. It was funny for a while, but then it got old. Even ‘Total Request Live’, MTV’s longest-running music video showcase program, was cancelled by 2010. RIP…
Hopefully MTV2, MTV3 and MTV4000 will make up for what we have been missing for so long… or they’ll just play ‘Rob and Big’ reruns until our brains rot. Either way, MTV remains a massive influence regarding pop culture, style and industry trends. So as history would suggest – everything is pretty much doomed.