Video Killed the Radio Star
|"Video Killed the Radio Star"|
|Single by The Buggles|
|from the album The Age of Plastic|
|Released||7 September 1979|
|Genre||New Wave, synthpop|
|Length||4:13 (album version)
3:25 (2010 Japanese re-issue single version)
|Writer(s)||Geoff Downes, Trevor Horn, and Bruce Woolley|
|The Buggles singles chronology|
"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, even though it was recorded and released in 1979.
Writing and composition 
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'.
The song is a new wave-synthpop bright-tempo song played at a 132 BPM, and the vocal range spans from A3 to D5. According to Downes, "Its actually a lot more complicated piece of music than people think, for instance part of the bridge is actually chords suspended and minor 9ths. A lot of people transcribed the song wrongly, they thought it was a straight F# chord. The song was written in D flat. The suspended gives it a slightly different feel."
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.
Live performances 
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.
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
Music video 
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 
Chart performance 
Sales and certifications 
Cover versions 
|"Video Killed the Radio Star"|
|Single by The Presidents of the United States of America|
|from the album The Wedding Singer soundtrack|
|Genre||Post-grunge, Hard rock|
|Producer||Presidents of the United States of America|
|The Presidents of the United States of America singles chronology|
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.
Chart performance 
|1998||UK Singles Chart||58|
Other cover versions 
|1993||Jun'ichi Kanemaru||Inspired Colors|
|1999||Lolita No.18||ヤリタミン (YALITAMIN)|
|2000||Ken Laszlo||Ken Laszlo 2000|
|2000||The Presidents of the United States of America||Pure Frosting|
|2003||Erasure||Other People's Songs|
|2005||Amber Pacific||Punk Goes 80's|
|2005||Ben Folds Five||Whatever and Ever Amen|
|2005||Len||The Diary of the Madmen (in hidden track)|
|2007||Alvin and the Chipmunks||Alvin and the Chipmunks video game|
|2007||Envy & Other Sins|
|2007||The Feeling||Rosé (CD single)|
|2007||Haruko Momoi||COVER BEST — Cover Densha|
|2008||Bitch Alert||Pink Bunnies Get Hit by Big Trucks|
|2009||V V Brown||Travelling Like the Light|
|2011||Pentatonix||The Sing-Off: Season 3: Episode 5 - Guilty Pleasures|
|2012||Joyce Manor||Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired|
|2012||Dominico but call me "D"||Single|
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.
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.
In 2009, Robbie Williams titled his eighth album Reality Killed the Video Star. The album was produced by Trevor Horn. Williams also performed the song live in the BBC Electric Proms that year, with Horn playing bass.
See also 
Suggested reading 
- The Jazz Singer is a 1927 U.S. film notable for being the first "talking motion picture" to be widely commercially distributed.
- Singin' in the Rain is a musical film that explores the transition from silent film to sound film.
- Sunset Boulevard explores how sound film and television led to the demise of films and silent stars.
- "Radio Ga Ga", a single by Queen, also laments the demise of radio as the primary mass medium.
- "Internet Killed the Video Star", a 2010 song by The Limousines
No. 1 chart lists 
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1970s
- List of number-one hits of 1979 (Switzerland)
- List of number-one singles from the 1970s (UK)
- List of European number-one hits of 1980
- List of Swedish number-one hits
- "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. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders Of The 80s: Read the List". Blog.vh1.com. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- Hodgkinson, Will (5 November 2004). "Horn of Plenty". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
- 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. 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. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- "Learn to play Video Killed the Radio star". geoffdownes.net. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- VIdeo Killed the Radio Star. Musicnotes.com. Accessed from 28 April 2013.
- 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
- BBC Electric Proms Setlist Retrieved October 2009
- 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. 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
- "Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Hung Medien.
- "Ultratop.be – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Ultratop & Hung Medien / hitparade.ch.
- "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
- "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: P". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Buggles search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Stichting Nederlandse Top 40.
- "Charts.org.nz – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star". Top 40 Singles. Hung Medien.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star". Singles Top 60. Hung Medien.
- "Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Hung Medien.
- Roach, Martin (ed.) (2008). The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles (1st ed.). London: Virgin Books. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7535-1537-2.
- The Buggles chart history. Billboard.com. Accessed from 5 May 2013.
- "French single certifications – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star" (in French). InfoDisc. Select BUGGLES and click OK
- "Les Singles de Platine :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- "British single certifications – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star". British Phonographic Industry. 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
- (Release notes). "Video Killed the Radio Star". Dragonheart. UK: ABACO. 2004. CD insert. 615030-4.
- "Young London on PureVolume". Purevolume.com. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "[GTA VC] Flash FM- Buggles - Video killed the radio star". YouTube. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "BBC - Electric Proms - Robbie Williams". BBC. Retrieved 17 January 2012.