Happy birthday, MTV! Aug. 1 marks the 30th anniversary of the channel that changed how many of us view music. A few celebratory events are happening in honor of the 30 years of broadcasting. Sirius Radio is throwing an ’80s bash hosted by some of the original VJs. MTV’s sister channel, VH1 is running specials all weekend. People who watched that infamous first broadcast are reminiscing about favorite videos and the impact of MTV on the music world.
While video did not end up killing the radio star, MTV certainly took music beyond a purely aural experience. It made music a visual experience for everyone. Of the gazillion videos MTV and its sister stations have shown over the past three decades, there are a few that stand out for me. So here they are – five music videos that have embedded themselves in my memories for one reason or another, in no particular order.
Land of Confusion, Genesis
Honestly I never really liked the song, but enjoyed the heck out of the video. I remember watching it with no sound, or to other songs. The puppets and the imagery is simply wonderful. Land of Confusion was such a fun video that it eventually made me secretly kind of like the song.
Ambling Alps, Yeasayer
This is the only song on my list from recent times. Ambling Alps is one of the few videos I’ve seen lately with phenomenal cinematography and composition that isn’t crazy flashy and obnoxious. Beautiful silver, watery music. This video was so impressive, I bought the CD almost immediately.
Tom Petty, Runnin’ Down a Dream
Tom Petty has pumped out a lot of music videos, but Runnin’ Down a Dream is one of the most memorable for me. The Alice in Wonderland motif and frenzied pace sucked me in immediately. I loved the nonsensical (dream-like!) quality.
Rush had always been a favorite band of mine, and the song Subdivisions was the anthem of the geeks and dorks and loners of the era. The video does a great job of blending the pacing of the music with the visuals. Especially the beginning sequence with the trains and the traffic matching the beat of the song. It may not have been as visually striking as other videos, but the way it immerses the viewer in the angst of the music and the video’s main character as one pulse has always amazed me.
A-ha, Take on Me
Take on Me from the Norwegian band A-ha is my “girlie” pick for this list. As a teenage girl, what was there NOT to like about this video? Cute singer, catchy tune, love story – all the right ingredients. My favorite thing about the video though, was the shift into the comic book world. What a fantastic concept, and well done, even if it was a bit hokey in parts.
What were your favorites?