"Video Killed the Radio Star" is a song first recorded by Woolley & the Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for his album English Garden, which was a hit in Canada. It was later recorded by the British synthpop/New Wave group The Buggles, released as their debut single on 7 September 1979, on Island Records from their debut album The Age of Plastic. It celebrates the golden days of radio, describing a singer whose career is cut short by television. The song topped the music chart in several countries and has been covered by many recording artists. Its music video was the first shown on MTV in the U.S. at 12:01am on 1 August 1981. The song was number 40 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80's.
Buggles member Trevor Horn has said that the short story "The Sound-Sweep", in which the title character—a mute boy vacuuming up stray music in a world without it—comes upon an opera singer hiding in a sewer, provided inspiration for the song. He also felt "an era was about to pass." The theme of the song is thus nostalgia, which is echoed in the tone of the music (the vocals are initially limited in bandwidth, giving a "telephone" effect typical of early broadcasts). The lyrics refer to a period of technological change in the 1960s, the desire to remember the past and the disappointment that children of the current generation would not appreciate the past. In the 1950s and early 1960s, radio was an important medium for many, through which "stars" were created.
The song was written by Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley above a monumental stonemason's in Wimbledon Park London in 1978. Horn has claimed that Woolley was primarily responsible for the musical content, while Horn wrote most of the words. Woolley was responsible for the addition of the words 'put the blame on VTR'.
Horn wanted a sort of telephone voice to help disguise his lead vocal of the song. He worked with Gary Langan to put the recording of the vocal through some graphics and lots of compression. Without any dynamics left by the time it had been recorded, the vocal was played through a Vox AC30, and then was compressed and EQ’ed again. The two also had tried using a bullhorn, but they found it to be really harsh, in the task of making, as Langan recalls, "the vocal loud without cutting your head off. It still had to retain some softness to it, and it was the AC30 that really gave it that quality."
Gary Langan stated, “My work on ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ seemed to go on forever. I must have mixed that track four or five times. Remember, there was no total recall, so we just used to start again. We’d do a mix and three or four days later Trevor would go, ‘It’s not happening. We need to do this and we need to do that.’ The sound of the bass drum was one of his main concerns, along with his vocal and the backing vocals. It was all about how dry and how loud they should be in the mix without the whole thing sounding ridiculous. As it turned out, that record still had the loudest bass drum ever for its time."
The first version of the song was recorded by Woolley & the Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for his album English Garden, and later by The Buggles.
A rare live performance of the song by Horn and Downes came at a ZTT showcase in 1998. In 2004, The Buggles re-united again with Bruce Woolley at Wembley Arena to perform "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Living in the Plastic Age" as part of a tribute event to Horn to raise money for the Prince's Trust charity. They were joined by Debi Doss and Linda Jardim (now Linda Allan), who performed the background singing on the original recording. Paul Robinson, who played drums on the original, also appeared. Both Horn and Downes have performed the song live in other acts, including Yes (which Downes and Horn joined for the Drama album and tour in 1980), Downes in the 2006–2009 revival of Asia with John Wetton on lead vocals, and Horn in his band The Producers, also in 2006.
In November 2006, The Producers played at their first gig in Camden Town. A video clip can be seen on the ZTT Records of Horn singing lead vocals and playing bass in a performance of "Video Killed the Radio Star". Tina Charles appears on a YouTube video singing 'Slave to the Rhythm' with The Producers  and Horn reveals that Tina was the singer and originator of the "Oh Ah-Oh Ah-Oh" part of 'Video'; fellow 5000 Volt member Martin Jay was also a session musician on The Buggles record.
Robbie Williams performed the song with Trevor Horn at the BBC Electric Proms on 20 October 2009.
Since 2010, Horn has performed "Video" with both the Buggles and his new band, Producers. Since 2011, he has added new vocals to his live performance before the song's final chorus:
Video killed the radio star,
He hit him on the head with his old guitar,
He tried to run away, but didn't get far,
That's how video killed the radio star
The music video for the song, directed by Australian Russell Mulcahy, was first released in 1979. Hans Zimmer can be seen playing a keyboard; Debi Doss and Linda Jardim, who provided the female vocals for the song, are also seen. It is best known as marking the debut of MTV, when the U.S. channel started broadcasting at 12:01 AM on 1 August 1981. On 27 February 2000, it became the one-millionth video to be aired on MTV. It also opened MTV Classic in the UK and Ireland, which replaced VH1 Classic on 1 March 2010, at 6 AM. The video marked the closing of MTV Philippines before its shutdown on 15 February 2010 at 11:49 PM.
Charts and certifications
Sales and certifications
The Presidents of the United States of America version
In 1998, the alternative rock band, The Presidents of the United States of America, released a version of "Video Killed the Radio Star" for The Wedding Singer soundtrack. The song was also released as a one-track single. The song later appeared on the band's compilation Rarities.
Other cover versions
In other media
"Video Killed the Radio Star" appears on the album The Age of Plastic, where it has an additional piano coda. The complicated arrangement and production of the song, which includes a chorus sung by a group of very high-pitched backup singers, foreshadows Horn's later career as a producer.
It appears on the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and in the game itself. More recently, the song also appeared in Just Dance 3.
The song is used twice in Sarah Polley's 2011 film Take this Waltz; once midway through, and again during the closing scene. It is played as an accompaniment to the Scrambler ride in Toronto's Centre Island.
The song is heavily sampled in the 2010 single "Check It Out" by will.i.am and Nicki Minaj
The song is featured in the film Take Me Home Tonight starring an ensemble cast with Topher Grace and Anna Faris.
The song was the inspiration for Bappi Lahiri's song "Koi Yahan Aha Nache Nache" from the Mithun Chakraborty movie Disco Dancer.
In 2009, Robbie Williams titled his eighth album Reality Killed the Video Star The album was produced by Trevor Horn. Robbie also performed the song live in the BBC Electric Proms that year, with Horn playing bass.
No. 1 chart lists
- ^ a b "BPI Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Note: User needs to enter "Buggles" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. http://www.bpi.co.uk/certifiedawards/search.aspx. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- ^ "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders Of The 80s: Read the List". Blog.vh1.com. 1 April 2009. http://blog.vh1.com/2009-04-01/100-greatest-one-hit-wonders-of-the-80s-read-the-list-2/. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- ^ Hodgkinson, Will (5 November 2004). "Horn of Plenty". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2004/nov/05/1. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
- ^ a b Warner, Timothy (2003-06). Pop music: technology and creativity : Trevor Horn and the digital revolution. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-7546-3132-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=NWQ6xfA5hfQC&pg=PA46. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- ^ Schoenberg, Richard; Sutton, Seattle (2004-02). Seventy-Nine/Eighty. Only Easy Day Was Yesterday. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-9748208-0-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=D0FJ2LTxfQwC&pg=PT70. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- ^ "Learn to play Video Killed the Radio star". http://www.geoffdownes.net/learn-to-play-video-killed-the-radio-star.html. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- ^ a b Buskin, Richard. The Buggles 'Video Killed The Radio Star'. Sound on Sound. December 2011. Accessed from November 22, 2012.
- ^ Gig review: The Buggles
- ^ Tina Charles - Slave To The Rhythm on YouTube
- ^ http://www.martinjay.co.uk/index_website/
- ^ BBC Electric Proms Setlist Retrieved October 2009
- ^ ‹The template Cite video is being considered for deletion.› Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles Live 2011. YouTube. 28 September 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9YrYUYILSc. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- ^ "the Buggles - "Video killed the radio star"". mvdbase.com. 1 August 1981. http://mvdbase.com/video.php?id=4704. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- ^ Debi Doss – '70's Rock Archive Photographs
- ^ The Buggles (Biography) MTV
- ^ Dehnart, A. "Who really killed the video star?". Salon.com, 2000
- ^ MTV Philippines ceased airing on February 16, 2010. retrieved via www.pinoyrockcentral.com 02-16-2010
- ^ MTV Philippines Goes Off Air
- ^ Thank You MTV Philippines... Final Channel Sign-Off. retrieved via www.youtube.com 02-16-2010
- ^ Positions @ Finnish-charts.com Retrieved September 2009
- ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres par Artiste". Infodisc.fr. http://www.infodisc.fr/Bilan_B.php. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- ^ "French single certifications – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star" (in French). InfoDisc. http://www.infodisc.fr/Single_Certif.php. Select BUGGLES and click OK
- ^ "Les Singles de Platine :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. http://www.infodisc.fr/S_Certif_Platine.php?debut=21. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- ^ "British single certifications – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star". British Phonographic Industry. http://www.bpi.co.uk/certifiedawards/search.aspx. Enter Video Killed the Radio Star in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
- ^ "Young London on PureVolume". Purevolume.com. http://www.purevolume.com/YoungLondonMusic. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- ^ "[GTA VC] Flash FM- Buggles - Video killed the radio star". YouTube. 1 August 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLyN21lVNi0. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- ^ "BBC - Electric Proms - Robbie Williams". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricproms/2009/artists/robbiewilliams/. Retrieved 17 January 2012.