The Launch of MTV Music Means There Will Be Higher-Quality Videos Available Online


Tired of having a video jones, doing an online search and having to settle for some poorly encoded item uploaded to YouTube—something recorded, say, with a camera trained on a television set? Well, you’re in luck.

Earlier today, MTV unveiled a new site—MTV Music—that reminds me of what the network was during its early years: one devoted to playing music videos around the clock. Given the paucity of available material when the network launched in 1981, a viewer could expect a hodgepodge of material that—while it largely excluded the work of black musicians—defied easy genre categorizations, including the Top 40 characterization mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on the network. Among the items I remember seeing back then on a typical day were Squeeze’s “Tempted”; David Bowie’s “Fashion”; Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver”; the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime and Modern English’s “Someone’s Calling” as well as material by Kate Bush, Ph.D., .38 Special, Phil Collins, Michael Johnson and Andrew Gold, who’d be a historical footnote were it not for his song “Thank You for Being a Friend” having been used as the theme song for NBC’s The Golden Girls later in the decade.

It’s still early days for the site. Work by the less popular artists in the list above is not yet available, but their videos were among those most heavily promoted then. Fear not, though. This news item, the one that prompted this post, indicates that MTV currently has 16,000 videos uploaded with more to come each day.

So, in the coming days, weeks or months (depending on how much you procrastinate online), join me in finding new (and old) items posted there. It should be fun. In the meantime, feast your eyes and ears on the very first video the network broadcast on 1 August 1981: The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” [Ed. 12 May 2010—The video has been removed since I originally posted this item]. (Note that the group featured Trevor Horn among its members. I’ve written about his career beyond the Buggles here.)