So MTV has finally admitted what we've all known for years: it's not about the music anymore. On Monday, the network debuted its new logo, with its formerly defining tag-line -- "Music Television" -- gone for good.
Perhaps it's proof that the 29-year-old network is so ubiquitous that it now transcends mere words. Or maybe it means what we've long suspected: music is truly dead at the cable station.
MTV execs say that music is still an important part of the network's identity. But the cultural revolution that was once Music Television has long been replaced with the Brand MTV, best known these days for such shows as Jersey Shore and The Hills. MTV might as well be selling Kleenex, pushing Xerox machines, or competing with UPS, because the letters that once stood for something innovative and exciting are now part of the long line of made-up words and acronyms offering the big nothing.
Ah, but on August 1, 1981, when the brand-new network debuted with its instantly iconic logo -- it was musical magic. Nothing but '80s video goodness and the whole world in front of us. Big hair, padded shoulders, and lots of guitar hooks.
Here are the first ten music videos played that day, in their original order. Let the good times roll and let the funeral bells toll for world turned upside-down. I'll be waiting for this year's MTV Awards to air on the Food Network. Do they still have shows about food?
1. THE BUGGLES "Video Killed The Radio Star"
Ground zero for MTV. Co-founder Trevor Horn would go onto future MTV successes with the bands Yes and Art of Noise.
2. PAT BENATAR "You Better Run"
Born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski, Pat and her lead guitar player, Neil Giraldo, would marry in 1982. They're still together and they still rock.
3. ROD STEWART "She Won't Dance"
Rod the Mod was pushing 40 when MTV debuted in 1981. He was recycling his old band Faces on this tune, but who knew?
4. THE WHO "You Better You Bet"
Another veteran act that had an early '80s MTV makeover. Kenney Jones was on drums replacing the dearly departed Keith Moon. Coincidentally, Kenney was in Faces with Rod Stewart. Six degrees of Rod...
5. Ph.D "Little Suzi's On the Up"
Going for the cred factor, MTV aired a video from a one-hit wonder U.K. band consisting of two former members of the Jeff Beck Group. Tesla covered the tune in 1986.
6. CLIFF RICHARD "We Don't Talk Anymore"
This one rounded out the trio of videos from slowly aging rock dudes. Cliff Richard was the ripe age of 41 when he made his MTV debut. He was a major heartthrob in the U.K., but in the U.S? Not so much.
7. THE PRETENDERS "Brass In Pocket"
This video was the best thing on MTV that first day. It's still one of the best things the channel ever aired. But my Chrissie crush prejudices me.
8. TODD RUNDGREN "Time Heals"
The former Utopia front man was pushing the limits of early music video production on Day One, with lots of pre-computer trickery that inspired a generation of Mac users.
9. REO SPEEDWAGON "Take It On the Run"
"Heard it from a friend who..." What can I even say about this? What would the '80s be without REO?
10. STYX "Rockin' the Paradise"
What's the only thing better than a slammin' REO riff? Some Styx concept-album rock. It's no "Tommy," but it's got that classic rock bombast. Only two years later, Styx would up the ante with 1983's "Mr. Roboto." YES!!!
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