The Duran Duran video, “Rio,” was the first video I ever saw on MTV. That’s not surprising, since Duran Duran was one of the most heavily played 80s bands on Music Television. In fact, they put out some of biggest 80s music hits and enjoyed heavy rotation on most radio stations as well.
They came from Britain and were part of the second British Invasion, which included tons of 80s bands who brought rock, pop, and new wave music over the pond and into the melting pot.
Originally created by Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, Duran Duran found success after switching up band members until the band consisted of Rhodes and Taylor along with Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor, and lead singer Simon Le Bon. Contrary to rumor, none of the Taylors are related.
Duran Duran rolled into commercial success with their 80s music and put out hits into the 90s. They’ve had fourteen hits in the UK Singles Chart Top Ten and twenty-one of their songs have reached the Billboard Hot 100. The band has sold over 70 million records to date. That’s totally awesome for these talented British babes!
And it’s no wonder. Together, the five-piece band is sheer, lip-smacking eye candy. In the 80s, what girl didn’t have one (if not all) members of Duran Duran pinned to her wall? Their pretty faces probably graced the walls in a few boys’ bedrooms as well.
Commercial Appeal for 80s Bands
Being a band of pin-ups had its pros and cons. Their undeniable good looks added to the group’s commercial appeal and undoubtedly helped them sell records. However, those lovely visages annoyed naysayers who referred to them as less-than-serious musicians. That’s right, some people accused Duran Duran of being nothing more than a boy band.
But the boys from Duran Duran took their music seriously, and consistently produced cutting-edge rock with a new wave flavor and lyrics that bordered on poetry.
They were also adept at producing catchy, popular 80s music videos. Remember, this was back when many 80s bands built entire careers around videos. And they could, because in those days, MTV actually played music videos. Some of their most popular videos were “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Wild Boys,” “The Reflex,” “Girls on Film,” and “Rio.”
80s Music Facts – Duran Duran
The band’s career has been packed with interesting moments. Here are a few fast facts about Duran Duran:
- During Live Aid, a charity packed with the hottest 80s music performers of the decade, Simon Le Bon botched the last note while performing the song “A View to a Kill,” and it became known as the note heard round the world.
- The band was named after a villain, Dr. Durand Durand, from sci-fi movie Barbarella.
- In 1985, members of Duran Duran tackled side projects, forming two new 80s bands. Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes joined under the moniker Arcadia and put out one album, So Red the Rose. John and Andy Taylor hooked up with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form the band Power Station.
If you lived during the 80s, you better know who these guys are. They helped define 80s music and put an attractive spin on what 80s bands could look like. Duran Duran is still out there today making music so they are not gone and they most certainly not forgotten.
Which is just perfect because I’m an 80s kid who was also born in the 70s. Let’s just say I totally love 80s music like this.
“Video Killed The Radio Star” is historically recognized as the first music video to play on MTV, and it was an apt choice, for music television did indeed go on to kill the radio star.
Originally released in 1979, the song comes courtesy of British synthpop band The Buggles. The lyrics center on the golden age of radio (“back in ’52″) and tell the story of a radio star whose career is terminated when television becomes a reckoning force in pop culture (“pictures came and broke your heart”).
The video (and MTV) totally set the stage for all 80s videos to come and also told the story of the fate that would soon befall radio stars all across the world.
MTV Debuts 80s Videos
Isn’t it totally awesome that this, of all 80s videos, not only was the first music video that played on MTV, but also that it’s technically a 70s song? Now that’s foresight!
As mentioned, “Video Killed the Radio Star” went down in history as the first music video to air on MTV. However, most people don’t know that the video played again on the music television giant on February 27, 2000. This time, it marked the millionth video to play on MTV.
Thanks to MTV and the death of the radio star, this song (not the video) topped the 80s music charts and was later covered by several other recording artists. It’s even been parodied.
80s Music: A New Era
The Buggles’ Trevor Horn penned the lyrics and of the song. He said that he felt “an era was about to pass.” Maybe he was psychic! His co-writers included the other two members of The Buggles, both Geoffrey Downes and Bruce Woolley.
Horn also took inspiration for the song lyrics from a short story titled “The Sound-Sweep” by J.G. Ballard. In the story, a mute boy who lives in a world without music is tasked with vacuuming up stray music (garbage). The story takes a turn when he meets an opera singer hiding out in the sewers.
Both the lyrics and the music of “Video Killed the Radio Star” are nostalgic, and bring up images of days gone by.
Directed by Russell Mulcahy, the video also features guest singers Debi Doss and Linda Jardim, who provided the female vocals and Hans Zimmer, who appears for a flash on keyboard. As for the song, it was produced on the album Age of Plastic.
Love Those 80s Videos!
We love 80s music but we must remember that what made it so totally wicked were all those awesome 80s videos that were given to us by MTV and groups like The Buggles. Long live the 80s!
The year was 1984. MTV’s bad girl had the church ladies’ panties in a wad. But teen girls across the nation couldn’t get enough of her. And everyone awaited the much-anticipated release of her Like a Virgin album.
It was a disgrace to virgins and good girls everywhere! She was a hussy! A slut! A star! Madonna seduced the spotlight and cameras everywhere. She was (and is) an entertainer. She totally knew how to work a song, a video, and a stage.
And she knew how to put out hit after hit. Her Like a Virgin album was jam-packed with 80s music singles, and Madonna dominated the charts.
Anticipating Like a Virgin, Foremost Among 80s Albums
Leveraging off shock value and controversy, Madonna released her sophomore album in 1984, and the public was soaking it up before they heard her sing a single note. Chatter about the cutting-edge title, “Like a Virgin,” was mixed. Some said it was blasphemy. Others said it was brilliant.
Critics mostly dismissed the album, calling the title track a one-hit wonder, but once it became available, the public ate it up and Like a Virgin became a commercial success, an album so important to 80s music that it was celebrated twenty years later at the MTV Video Music Awards (and sealed with a sexy pair of kisses between Madonna and modern pop princesses Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera).
The album was dedicated to “all the virgins of the world,” and was a cacophony of disco and pop inspired hits like “Material Girl,” “Angel,” and “Dress You Up,” not to mention the title track, “Like a Virgin.”
80s Music and the MTV Generation
Madonna debuted the album’s first single by performing “Like a Virgin” at the first annual MTV Video Music Awards. Swathed in a white bustier (which would become one of her wardrobe staples) and a full skirt cinched with her signature “Boy Toy” belt, Madonna rolled around onstage, crooning the lyrics to her shocking new song.
The crowd went wild and MTV put the video for “Like a Virgin” into heavy rotation and so began a long, beneficial, and reciprocal relationship between Madonna and Music Television.
The Virgin Tour
If Like a Virgin was one of the most popular 80s albums, then the Virgin Tour was certainly one of the biggest concerts of the decade. 80s music had reached new heights thanks to MTV and the concerts exploded with the added television coverage.
A performance from her Virgin Tour of the song “Dress You Up” was captured on film and turned into a music video, which like all other Madonna videos, enjoyed heavy play. Concert goers flocked to big stadiums to see the Boy Toy live and in action.
With a full band, backup dancers, and a show that was completely choreographed, the concert was a hit, and eventually made its way to video.
Your 80s Music Collection
Your 80s music collection isn’t complete without the Virgin essentials:
Order the CD from Amazon or download this totally awesome album (or any of its singles) from:
It’s been said before and it will totally be said again – the music of the 80s was pure awesomeness. There was something for everyone – metal and hard rock, rap and R&B, pop, country, and plenty of brand new sounds too. Hip-hop officially hit mainstream and became a force to be reckoned with. Dancing was a running theme throughout the decade and obviously, it relied heavily on 80s music, though it also infiltrated film, fashion, and television. MTV practically kicked off the decade, launching in 1981 and changing the face of the music industry forever.
No More Disco
Toward the end of the seventies, disco music was being mass-produced by record labels that were trying to cash in on the popular sound, making it generic and irrelevant. Plus, legions of rock fans and hardcore musicians protested the disco sound, bashing it as effeminate and fake due to its use of electronic drum beats and synthesizers rather than real musicians.
80s Music and the Synthesizer
Disco may have died but the synthesizer survived well into the 80s. Every band had to have its token keyboard player, even rock masters like Van Halen embraced the new instrument. The synthesizer and keyboards were so heavily used in 80s music that these instruments came to define the the sound of the decade. Plus, they were accessible and mass-produced in a variety of sizes, so lots of smaller versions ended up under millions of Christmas trees throughout the 80s. Almost every household had one.
A New Wave of Sound
With synthesizers and keyboards permeating 80s music, new styles started to pop up, most notably new wave and synthpop. Defined as much by its post-disco dance sound as its style, which melded ultra-mainstream pop fashion with punk stylings, new wave music found a home in the dance clubs that were formerly discotheques.
Other genres emerged as well. Most notably, hip-hop entered mainstream thanks to a groundbreaking duet featuring Run-DMC and Aerosmith in the 1986 single “Walk This Way.”
Alternative music has its roots in 80s modern rock. The techno and electronica genres also have roots in the 80s music that featured synthesizers and other electronic instruments.
Video Killed the Radio Star
On August 1, 1981, MTV (Music Television) launched and almost overnight changed the way musicians performed and marketed themselves. MTV also permanently altered the way the public viewed and listened to music. The format was simple and straightforward – music videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The channel featured commentaries and introductions by its veejays (video jockeys) and camera-friendly stars started to rise, a phenomenon foreshadowed by the title of the first video that played on the channel: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
The 80s Music Genre Craze
In the 80s, music started to split into smaller niches, which appealed to more targeted audiences. Genres become more defined in part because of the greater visibility that MTV’s platform provided. The sound of each genre became tied to a particular style. Big hair and glam metal bands appealed to rockers. The goth predecessors, sometimes known as “mods,” were drawn to the alternative modern rock and new wave. Pop music was associated with “preppies” and “fluffs.”
The 80s is one of the most outstanding decades in history, revered for the bulk, diversity, and originality of the music that was produced from 1980 to 1989. Cultural fads and icons like the walkman, boom box, and cassette (as well as the beloved mix tape) and the cultural phenomenon that was MTV helped increase the popularity of 80s music, which was so totally awesome that we still listen to it and totally love it almost 30 years later.