Another music invasion was about to happen worldwide in 1980’s. It was not the Beetles or the Beetles Invasion. This time it was the invasion of cable television. With rock and roll musicians looking to promote their music, music producers worldwide started a new music invasion of their own. The idea of making use of cable television was a brilliant idea of promoting music videos to other parts of the world. First in 1981, viewers were able to not just listen to the words of their favorite artist, but also watch videos of their artist portraying and acting out scenes to their own music.
“The Billboard’s Video Music Conference was held on November 1979, John Lack made an astonish announcement the he was going to develop and produce a 24-hour video music network for television.” With the business help of Bob Pittman, he helped encourage record studios and companies into producing music videos. “Promoting the works from cable television producing studios the very persistent team of Lack and Pittman started MTV on August 1, 1981.” (Marks)
It all started, “On this day on August 1, 1981, MTV: Music Television is going on the air for the first time ever, with the words (spoken by one of MTV’s creators, John Lack): “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to air on the new cable television channel, which initially was available only to households in parts of New Jersey. MTV went on to revolutionize the music industry and become an influential source of pop culture and entertainment in the United States and other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and Latin America, which all have MTV-branded channels.” (history.com)
During the next few years, MTV used visual culture to transform the viewer’s ideas of their favorite artists. Listing of hard rock, punk rock, heavy metal, new wave and alternative rock were all a part of the music selections provided to the viewers. Well-known artists like Madonna, Who, Rod Stuart, and the first black artist to appear was Michael Jackson. Sales of records, to albums and concert tours soar topping off C.D. sales nationwide. MTV attracted viewers as young as twelve years old to music lovers through the age of the late thirties.
Fashion brought bright, bold, wild colors in the early 80’s. Along with big earrings and jewelry, leg warmers, hair spayed hair, oversized tops, and leggings to neon colors. Everything was dynamic from head-to-toe in outfits and costumes. Eyes were opened to outrageous dance moves being performed in the music videos. Viewers were wanting more insight of this popular fad of music television called MTV. On average viewers would watch anywhere from one to four hours a day. (Pemberto)
MTV didn’t have anything newsworthy on its programing like weather, sports, and news. It brought the listeners music news. Letting viewers known upcoming events, song releases and new albums. Some information reminds me of watching Extra or TMZ shows that becomes people’s opinions and promote curiosity verse the true real facts or news of the artists.
It wasn’t unusual to find a political motivated music artist throughout watching some of the videos on MTV. Music videos brought a visionary perspective besides listening to words being sung expressing political agendas. “Genesis did a video called “Land of Confusion” featuring a creepy puppet version of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and many of the USA for Africa singers, this is a Who’s Who of the late Cold War era. Before the fall of Communism, artists often reminded us that the end of the world as we knew it was merely a red button away.” (Pemberto)
Producing music videos is not cheap, even back in the 1980’s. The most expensive music video produced was Michael Jackson’s video, “Thriller.” With the help of producer Quincy Jones, “Thriller” is the best-selling album and best music video in pop music history. Chorographic and mob dance moves are still a hit today with school, dance teams, wedding receptions and proposals to performances from marching bands half-time shows.
Music Television had to do something about the content of the explicative sexual and graphics of the videos being produced for cable television. MTV created a Program Standards Department, which aimed to reject music videos featuring extremely graphic and explicit content. Today, MTV television has changed from producing television music videos to reality shows to attract younger viewers. Still promoting relationships of cultural boundaries, including violence and living in the world of youthful pressures of drinking and sex. (MTV Launches)
Now onto a new decade of music and new artists. Wondering if there will be another song that will top the sales of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or maybe a new music invasion in the near future?
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