I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Buggles -- Video Killed The Radio Star


Being the geek that I am, I was watching the live coverage of the landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars earlier this afternoon as NASA and fellow space watchers crossed their collective fingers and toes. The probe went through those 7 Minutes of Terror and landed safely which got everyone doing claps and backslaps, and I think the "Avengers" theme song sparked off in my head. Anyways, congratulations on the feat.

Words such as technology and the future also started to coalesce in my mind so today being time for a ROY article, I was thinking about what old song could bring about thoughts of the new age. Well, I've already featured Donald Fagen's "I.G.Y." back in November as a ROY, but there's also The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star".

Yep, although at the time, my television couldn't get MTV when it premiered in 1981, I did hear that the music video channel started its broadcasting life with "Video Killed The Radio Star". However, it was actually released as The Buggles' debut single in September 1979, and to my surprise, it was a cover of an original version by Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club that had come out earlier in January.

When I think of Fagen's "I.G.Y." from 1982, I think of that unusual fusion arrangement which came off as being very mellow but with that seeming reggae beat. There were also the singer's snarky predictions of a beautiful future viewed through a 1950s/1960s lens with all of that hi-tech. Donald Fagen may have been sarcastic but I still took it to heart as a hopeful sign of what may yet come to pass in my remaining decades on Earth. But with The Buggles' most famous song, that synthpop melody has always had me dreaming of the future as I see it now...with all those gleaming weirdly-shaped towers popping out of the firmament like mushrooms and sky pods flying among them in their air lanes. It would be downright Coruscant!

The things that made "Video Killed The Radio Star" a prized melody of my memories is not just the hopeful feeling but also Trevor Horn's delivery as if he were some old Hollywood radio emcee crooning into one of those huge NBC stand mikes contrasting with the technopop and of course the background New York accent-inflected vocals by the ladies. The album version finishes off with a poignant piano-and-synth combination that may signal a moment by an older man looking upon the past few decades of technological developments with some pride and contentment.

I don't know when and where I first heard "Video Killed The Radio Star". Most likely, it was just through watching one of the video shows that populated the airwaves here in Toronto at the time. From what I've read of the song on Wikipedia, it's been posited that the song was actually all about nostalgia (and it's certainly nostalgic listening to it now) for how things changed technologically back in the 1960s and the desire to look back. There is also the opinion that the young folks of today (oh you whippersnappers!) would not appreciate the past. Well, considering what I've seen of the comments for music of the past, whether it be Japanese, American, European, etc., I don't think that there needs to be any lamentation about that factor right now. It seems that plenty of the newer generation have been enjoying the songs of the 70s and the 80s on either side of the Pacific.

Now, what was released in Japan in September 1979?

Mariya Takeuchi -- September

Chage & Aska -- Hitorizaki(ひとり咲き)

Spectrum -- Tomato Ippatsu(トマト・イッパツ)

To finish off, here is the original version by Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club.

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