...in which your intrepid blogger, with mildly intrigued wife and uninterested kids, dives into yesterday's 24-hour rebroadcast of the entire day of videos shown twenty-five years ago on MTV on August 1, 1981, its first day of operation.
Frankly, it was sort of a cross between gratifyingly scratching an itch and staring into an open wound. Dickens had an opening line worthy of it.
The best of times: The Specials'
"A Message To You Rudy", Blotto's
"I Wanna Be A Lifeguard", Rupert Hine's
"Surface Tension", Todd Rundgren's
"Time Heals", The Tubes'
"Prime Time", three (three!
) videos from Shoes
, and of course Bowie's
The worst of times: April Wine
, .38 Special
, and Bootcamp
(the latter being ersatz power-poppers with a video, which meant they got played.)
And then the stuff that just makes you go "meh": REO Speedwagon
had released a "video LP", so they had about six or seven songs in rotation. Same for Rod Stewart
, who unlike REO was not
at the pinnacle of his career, such as it was.The Pretenders
suffered a similar issue, but what's not to like about the original foursome? Then there's the video for Pat Benatar's
"I'm Gonna Follow You"...while I'm not one to generally ogle girls in pop music, at least not vocally, Pat's evil-twin persona wears the most bestest
pair of leather-ish pants ever
in that video. Seriously.
Like Bootcamp, dismissed above, a Pittsburgh bar band that got the new-wave bug called "Silencers
" (as opposed to the Scottish band of the same name that did "Painted Moon" years later) got play primarily because, well, they had a video. Unlike Bootcamp, they weren't half bad. Turns out they put out two albums through CBS and spawned at least six local rock radio singles - who knew? I agree with the assessment in Trouser Press
: they could
have been contenders.
My eldest daughter declared Phil Collins'
"In The Air Tonight" the "worst song ever", even after I suggested it "kicked in" late in the song. ("That's
'kicking in'?" she asked incredulously when the song's drum signature finally, well, kicked in.
At least she likes The Fall
, which ain't bad for a ten-year old.) My wife commented that at least the videos showed the bands performing, mostly, without all the 'hoopla' you see today. She's got a great 'hoopla' detector.
So now you're saying "What? Where? There were videos on MTV yesterday?" Actually, there weren't - the whole shebang showed up on VH1 Classic - and if you missed it, don't fret. Just set your Tivo for "MTV Day 1
" starting Saturday at 9AM
, when they'll be doing it all over again.
MTV, for its part, will not mark the anniversary in any way on the original channel. Which is probably for the best.(Update: On the other hand, this blog is at least cognizant enough of its history to point you to this appreciation of MTV's first day published five-ish years ago at this very URL. Booyah.)