Video Killed the Radio Star
March 18, 2017
Todd plays the intro to "Video Killed the Radio Star" on the piano.
THE BUGGLES - VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
A one-hit wonder retrospective
Video for "Video Killed the Radio Star"
Trevor Horn: I heard you on the wireless back in fifty twoTodd: Hello and welcome back to One-Hit Wonderland where we take a look back into the bands and artists only known for one song. Okay, NOW this is the last request. And after this, I can finally, finally go back to reviewing songs I want to review, such as...(?)...well I'm sure I'll think of something. And yet again, we are looking at a new wave MTV hit. Which, yes, it's certainly over-represented on this show.
[Clip of The Human League - Keep Feeling Fascination]
Todd (VO): After this, I'm not gonna touch another new wave song til, like, 2023.
Todd: But this isn't just any MTV new wave hit here.
[Clip of "Video Killed the Radio Star"]
Todd (VO): This is the MTV new wave hit. This is the defining, breakthrough moment of the entire music video era. That's right, we're yet again going back...
Todd: ...to the 70's.
Buggles: Video killed the radio starTodd (VO): Yes, believe it or not, the song that's widely perceived as having kicked off the 80's wasn't even from the 80's, and landed at #1 in the UK two months before the decade started!
Video killed the radio star
Trevor: They took the credit for your second...
Todd (VO): In America, the song will forever be associated with the fact that it was the first music video ever played on MTV on August 1st, 1981.
Todd: Cause on its original release, Video Killed the Radio Star did not cross over.
[Clip of the video]
Todd (VO): It only barely scraped onto the Top 40. And by that, I mean it reached [snapshot of the Billboard Hot 100] #40 on the charts and no higher.
Todd: Which is really just fitting in the most bluntly obvious way possible. Of course it didn't do well on the charts! In 1979, success on Billboard was mostly driven by promotion on the radio.
Todd (VO): It couldn't get big until there was a real platform for music videos. And it's not like MTV's original launch was seen by very many people, [clip of 80s MTV bumper] but when it did become the decade defining phenomenon we know it as now, it was hard to see Video Killed the Radio Star as anything but a prophecy come true.
Todd: And yet, if this was a future that they predicted...
[Clip of the video]
Todd (VO): ...why weren't they a part of it? If there was anyone who had their fingers on the pulse of popular music, it was these guys. Well, it turns out the Buggles' career arc is..
Todd: ...one of the stranger ones I've covered on One Hit Wonderland.
Todd (VO): It's, uh...yeah, this one's a little all over the place. So, let's get to it.
Todd: Let us autopsy the radio star and find out how it was killed. Oh-wuh-oh!
Before the hit
Todd: OK, let's start out with that name.
[image of the Buggles' name]
Todd (VO): That's a stupid name. Sounds like a cutesy '80s cartoon or something.
Todd: The idea behind it was that it's-it's-it's like
[image of The Beatles]
Todd: The Beatles. And, you know, [image of a spider beetle] beetles are bugs, so...
Todd: The Buggles.
The Big Hit
The Failed Follow Up
Did they Ever do Anything Else?
Did they Deserve Better?
Transcript in progress