After 29 years, it’s safe to say that millions of people across the globe still want their MTV. Since its inception on August 1, 1981, MTV has turned itself into a pop-cultural juggernaut, from helping to mainstream rap music to pioneering the trend toward reality television with shows like The Real World. But the MTV of the 1980s was in a much simpler format, modeled after Top 40 radio; the channel brought in punky and energetic 20-somethings, coined the term “VJ” and the rest is history.
Now MTV is at again, searching for the next “TJ” or Twitter Jockey. My, how the times have changed. But as it is MTV’s birthday, we thought we’d get nostalgic here on Viewer Discretion Advised and celebrate where the music video actually got its origins by remembering the videos that launched a billion views in households across the country.
The most perfect song that could have ever been used in the launch of MTV, we still get chills when it comes on the radio. Never mind the fact that it single-handedly revolutionized the way we would think of music and television together, but The Buggle’s “Video Killed the Radio Star” is a perfectly ridiculous representation of what the ’80s had in store for the future of music videos, featuring everything from tinsel wigs to keyboard melodies matched with out-of-this-world motifs. Up next, Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run,” the epitome of 1980s sex appeal. Dark cat eyes, skin-tight leather pants and punk-rock feathered hair, Benatar cemented her place in video vixen history. The clip below closes out with a word from each of the first 5 original VJs, who all went on to become celebrities in their own right. So happy birthday, MTV, here’s to 29 more magical, musical years.