What a difference 30 years makes.
This Monday, August 1, MTV celebrates its 30th birthday. It might as well be the 30th birthday of KMET. Remember KMET? Of course you don't. It's an old Los Angeles classic-rock radio station. And it's dead. Dead just like radio. Dead just like MTV. The revolution is long over, and MTV is just another in a long line of corporate stooges trotting out corporate stooge bands trying to pass themselves off as something anti-establishment. It’s filled with a bunch of reality nothingness celebrating a life of consumerism. The "M" used to stand for "music." Now it stands for "meaningless." EmpTV. Empty. It's all one self-conscious, soulless bore.
Ah, but on August 1, 1981, it was 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 10 videos played that day in order. Let the good times roll.
I remember visiting my aunt and uncle in San Jose that summer, and marveling at that new channel they had on cable. It was heaven. The link lists the first 10 videos. I knew the first two (had a trivia question about them a few months back!) but don't even recognize the 3rd, 5th, or 8th songs. I wouldn't have guessed most of them for MTV's first season; The Pretenders' Brass In Pocket, for example, came out in 1979, and had pretty much been played into the ground by the time MTV rolled around.
You'd never know it today, but back then, MTV was something very special.