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10 first videos on MTV to mark 30th birthday: Bet you forgot how terrible they were (VIDEOS)

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Videos below.
MTV debuted thirty years ago -- and I was there. The cable system in my conservative hometown of Grand Junction began airing the net on day one -- and my friends and I were instant converts. We used the wall-to-wall music clips as near-constant background media even though many, if not most, of them were terrible -- as is clear from the first ten videos, on view below.

In the beginning, there were so few promotional videos available that MTV aired the same ones over and over (and over) whether they were good, bad or indifferent. In particular, I remember the frequent screenings of the dreadfully cheap and unimaginative clip for .38 Special's "Hold on Loosely" -- which the net somehow managed to wait until the thirteenth slot to air. To bad it wasn't the last time...

For the most part, videos by British acts were far more watchable during that nascent period than those from their American counterparts, largely because the video movement in the U.K. had started earlier there. It'd take most U.S. bands months, if not years, to perfect some of the early clichés of the genre: glass items breaking in slow motion, midgets, buxom women who seemed thrillingly undressed back then, but now like schoolmarms in comparison with the dental-floss-clad trollops on current hip-hop videos. Those were the days.

Look below to see MTV's first ten videos, led by the well-remembered Buggles ditty "Video Killed the Radio Star," as well as clips from superstars of the day (Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Who) and one all-but-forgotten obscurity: "Little Suzi's on the Up" by Ph.D. Afterward, will you still want your MTV?


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7 comments
Martha Quinn
Martha Quinn

Your negative critique of the early videos lost all credibility when it became apparent in the second paragraph that you probably didn't even see those videos. It's "Hold on Loosely". Maybe you were thinking "Hang on Sloopy"...

Mama Monroe
Mama Monroe

Damn. Brass in Pocket was a great video. Chrissy Hynde was (is) the coolest.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The videos were bad, but MTV heralded a new dawn of mindless entertainment.  Thirty years of progress later and MTV has become synonymous with mindless entertainment and the object of the aspirations of tens of millions of the mindless.  Is there a child left in America who wants to become an engineer, a physicist, or a philosopher, or does every single one hope instead to become a pop star?

MTV clearly looms over what passes for the cultural scene in America:  I watched some of 'Selene' last night, which I had thought to be a vaguely inspirational story of Chicana success, but turned out to be an incredibly dreary exposition of the formula:  pop star = money + sex.  The examples of Paula Abdul and Madonna are cited as though they somehow represent the pinnacle of human achievement.  MTV is just a part of the wasteland which is popular entertainment in America today, but it is the very incubator of future mediocrity.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Oops. Thanks for correcting my faulty memory, Martha. I'll fix the error. And by the way, I always thought you were really hot.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Robert. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

MissingPersons
MissingPersons

Come on Robert.  Without MTV you wouldn't have your legions of "I want my legal marijuana, NOW" followers.  After all, weren't they hooked after one joint and a viewing of A-ha's "take on me"...

I WANT MY MTV!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

If that is the sole redeeming aspect of MTV ...

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