Follow me, children, back to the
long-forgotten oh-how-we-wish-we-could-forget dawn of the 1980s. It was all about geometrics, big shoulder pads and bright colors. Everything was flashy and bold. The music video, instead of just being a novelty promotional tool, was becoming a commodity in the music industry. If you didn’t have a music video for each of the three singles from your album, you might as well not bother breaking out the Moog because no one was going to be interested in your songs. When MTV launched on August 1, 1981, the first video to play was for a song recorded in 1979 that seemed a prescient tale: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by Buggles.
In 2005, Ben Folds Five put their typical piano arena anthem stamp on the tune.
More recently, vibrant bluegrass act Cadillac Sky orchestrated the song, in a lovely and near-ironic twist, with the instruments of their genre, making the tune warmer and more joyful than one might have thought possible. Here they are performing the song with friends at the midnight jam at Merlefest in 2009.
In this age of the internet, the idea of a video star seems as quaint as did the idea of a radio star back in the early ’80s. Perhaps someday in the future, someone will rewrite this song as “The RFID Chip Killed the Internet Star”.