Remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star? Well there’s something you might not know about it that’s kind of interesting. It was the best-selling record in Australia for 27 years. That’s a long time for anything to be number one let alone a record. I know it was used as an 80’s song for a while in the US despite being released in 1979 by The Buggles. The two men that wrote the song ended up singing it and bringing it fully into pop culture, though in America it kind of came and went like so many other things. American pop culture seems to change so fast that the moment you turn around or leave whatever store or website it was that you just visited, things have changed in a drastic and very dramatic way.
It’s not so much a downfall of music as it is a common truth. One day a band or a singer could be at the top of their game and the next they could be singing from the gutter for a spare change. That’s a little dramatic of course but the point is that music is fluid and what really proved this was what The Buggles were singing about. Think about how important the radio was for the longest time when it came music. No one could see who was singing. There was no TV when musical acts really got started and even in the days when TV’s finally became a thing it was still a while until they were seen on any program.
Music videos weren’t even heard of for a good deal of time until after TV became a firmly established fixture in peoples’ homes. But when the idea of the music video did begin to come around the fame of the radio star began to dwindle. Their once popular tunes and the feelings they brought were put aside as viewers could now watch their favorite bands and see them singing. Even better, some videos incorporated other props that made the song that much more interesting. The music video wasn’t the beginning of the end since obviously we still have music on the radio, but it was the beginning of a slow decline that continues unabated today.
One reason we still have music on the radio is that the era of the music video kind of came and went. When MTV got a hold of the music video idea they ran with as long as they could, until finally it was obvious that it could give them no more and they changed up their programming. Music videos eventually gave way to talk shows, cartoons that bordered on being adult programming, and other various shows that didn’t leave much time left for music videos to continue. Instead the music videos just about disappeared until YouTube came along, at which point most music videos made their way to the internet.
So if video killed the radio star, it seems that the internet killed the video star.