List of first music videos aired on MTV

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This is a list of the first music videos broadcast on MTV's first day, August 1, 1981. MTV's first day on the air was rebroadcast on VH1 Classic in 2006 and again in 2011 (the latter celebrating the channel's 30th anniversary).[1][2] The first hour on the air was broadcast again on August 1, 2016 and was called MTV Hour One, as part of VH1 Classic's planned re-launch as MTV Classic, MTV itself, and additionally streamed on the channel's Facebook page.[3]

The first video to air on MTV was one emblematic of MTV's concept, The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." 116 unique videos were played, spanning 208 spins over the first 24 hours; from the beginning, MTV used the rotation system and repeated popular videos throughout the day. "You Better You Bet" by The Who, which was also the first video to be repeated, "Just Between You and Me" by April Wine, and "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins were each played five times. Rod Stewart made the most total appearances that day with 16, with 11 of his videos being played.

First music videos aired on MTV
Number Song Artist Appearance[4] Notes
1 "Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles 1/2
2 "You Better Run" Pat Benatar 1/2
3 "She Won't Dance With Me" Rod Stewart 1/2
4 "You Better You Bet" The Who 1/5
5 "Little Suzi's on the Up" Ph.D. 1/3
6 "We Don't Talk Anymore" Cliff Richard 1/2
7 "Brass in Pocket" The Pretenders 1/2
8 "Time Heals" Todd Rundgren 1/3
9* "Take It on the Run" REO Speedwagon 1/3 This was the first concert video to be aired on MTV, from REO Speedwagon's Live Infidelity home video release. The video was interrupted after 12 seconds due to technical difficulties. The technical difficulty moment contains only a blank black screen with a 200hz tone for a few seconds, before going back to MTV's studio.
10 "Rockin' the Paradise" Styx 1/3
11 "When Things Go Wrong" Robin Lane and the Chartbusters 1/2
12 "History Never Repeats" Split Enz 1/2
13 "Hold on Loosely" 38 Special 1/3
14 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 1/5 from Live in London
15 "Sailing" Rod Stewart 1/2
16 "Iron Maiden" Iron Maiden 1/2
17 "Keep on Loving You" REO Speedwagon 1/3
18 "Bluer Than Blue" Michael Johnson 1/2
19 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 1/4
20 "Mr. Briefcase" Lee Ritenour 1/2
21 "Double Life" The Cars 1/2
22 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 1/5
23 "Looking for Clues" Robert Palmer 1/3
24 "Too Late" Shoes 1/1
25 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1/4
26 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" Rod Stewart 1/2 Screen is blank while the audio still plays, stops after 27 seconds, next song plays.
27 "Surface Tension" Rupert Hine 1/2
28 "One Step Ahead" Split Enz 1/3
29 "Baker Street" Gerry Rafferty 1/2
30 "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar 1/3
31 "Savannah Nights" Tom Johnston 1/2
32 "Lucille" Rockestra 1/3 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
33 "The Best of Times" Styx 1/3
34 "Vengeance" Carly Simon 1/1
35 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 1/4
36 "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" Blotto 1/1
37 "Passion" Rod Stewart 1/2
38 "Oliver's Army" Elvis Costello 1/2
39 "Remote Control / Illegal" The Silencers 1/2
40 "Angel of the Morning" Juice Newton 1/1
41 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 1/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
42 "Hold On to the Night" Bootcamp 1/2
43 "Dreamin'" Cliff Richard 1/2
44 "Is It You" Lee Ritenour 1/3
45 "Tusk" Fleetwood Mac 1/1
46 "He Can't Love You" Michael Stanley Band 1/2
47 "Tough Guys" REO Speedwagon 1/2
48 "Rapture" Blondie 1/2
49 "Don't Let Go the Coat" The Who 1/2
50 "Ain't Love a Bitch" Rod Stewart 1/1
51 "Talk of the Town" The Pretenders 1/3
52 "Can't Happen Here" Rainbow 1/3
53 "Thank You for Being a Friend" Andrew Gold 1/1
54 "You Better You Bet" The Who 2/5
55 "Bring It All Home" Gerry Rafferty 1/1
56 "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" April Wine 1/2 from Live in London
57 "The Man with the Child in His Eyes" Kate Bush 1/1
58 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 2/4
59 "All Night Long" Rainbow 1/2
60 "Boys Keep Swinging" David Bowie 1/2
61 "Rat Race" The Specials 1/2
62 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 2/5 from Live in London
63 "Once in a Lifetime" Talking Heads 1/1
64 "Victim" Bootcamp 1/2
65 "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" Rod Stewart 1/1
66 "Cruel to Be Kind" Nick Lowe 1/1
67 "A Little in Love" Cliff Richard 1/2
68 "Take It on the Run" REO Speedwagon 2/3
69 "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" 38 Special 1/2
70 "Wuthering Heights" Kate Bush 1/1
71 "Celebrate the Bullet" The Selecter 1/2
72 "More Than I Can Say" Leo Sayer 1/2
73 "A Message to You, Rudy" The Specials 1/1
74 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 2/5
75 "Heart of Glass" Blondie 1/1
76 "Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight" Rod Stewart 1/2
77 "Kid" The Pretenders 1/1
78 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 2/4
79 "Come What May" Lani Hall and Herb Alpert 1/2
80 "I Got You" Split Enz 1/1
81 "Sister Disco" The Who 1/2
82 "Fashion" David Bowie 1/2
83 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 2/4
84 "Love Stinks" The J. Geils Band 1/1
85 "Johnny & Mary" Robert Palmer 1/2
86 "Tomorrow Night" Shoes 1/1
87 "Lucille" Rockestra 2/3 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
88 "Rockin' the Paradise" Styx 2/3
89 "Prime Time" The Tubes 1/1
90 "One Step Ahead" Split Enz 2/3
91 "Hold on Loosely" .38 Special 2/3
92 "Cruel You" Shoes 1/1
93 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 2/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
94 "Calling All Girls" Hilly Michaels 1/1
95 "Keep on Loving You" REO Speedwagon 2/3
96 "I Was Only Joking" Rod Stewart 1/1
97 "You Better You Bet" The Who 3/5
98 "Time Heals" Todd Rundgren 2/3
99 "Let's Go" The Cars 1/1
100 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 3/5 from Live in London
101 "Mr. Briefcase" Lee Ritenour 2/2
102 "Fashion" David Bowie 2/2
103 "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar 2/3
104 "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" The Ramones 1/1
105 "Ridin' the Storm Out" REO Speedwagon 1/1
106 "Looking for Clues" Robert Palmer 2/3
107 "Little Suzi's on the Up" Ph.D. 2/3
108 "Is It You" Lee Ritenour 2/3
109 "You're in My Heart" Rod Stewart 1/1
110 "Talk of the Town" The Pretenders 2/3
111 "The Best of Times" Styx 2/3
112 "So Long" Fischer-Z 1/1
113 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 3/5
114 "I Don't Want To Know" Robin Lane and the Chartbusters 1/1
115 "Don't Let Go the Coat" The Who 2/2
116 "Go Back Home Again" Andrew Gold 1/1
117 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 3/4
118 "Remote Control / Illegal" The Silencers 2/2
119 "Time for Me to Fly" REO Speedwagon 1/1
120 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 3/4
121 "She Won't Dance With Me" Rod Stewart 2/2
122 "Rough Boys" Pete Townshend 1/1
123 "History Never Repeats" Split Enz 2/2
124 "Dangerous Type" The Cars 1/1
125 "Turn It On Again" Genesis 1/1
126 "Rapture" Blondie 2/2
127 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 3/4
128 "Can't Happen Here" Rainbow 2/3
129 "We're So Close" Carly Simon 1/1
130 "Tough Guys" REO Speedwagon 2/2
131 "Passion" Rod Stewart 2/2
132 "Kid Blue" Louise Goffin 1/1
133 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 3/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
134 "Vienna" Ultravox 1/1
135 "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" April Wine 2/2 from Live in London
136 "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" Elvis Costello and the Attractions 1/1
137 "Don't Let Him Go" REO Speedwagon 1/2
138 "I Won't Let You Down" Ph.D. 1/1
139 "Holiday" Nazareth 1/1
140 "You Better You Bet" The Who 4/5
141 "All Night Long" Rainbow 2/2
142 "Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles 2/2
143 "You Better Run" Pat Benatar 2/2
144 "Surface Tension" Rupert Hine 2/2
145 "One Step Ahead" Split Enz 3/3
146 "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" .38 Special 2/2
147 "In My Arms Again" Shoes 1/1
148 "Is It You" Lee Ritenour 3/3
149 "Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight" Rod Stewart 2/2
150 "Passing Strangers" Ultravox 1/1
151 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 4/5 from Live in London
152 "Turning Japanese" The Vapors 1/1
153 "Rockin' the Paradise" Styx 3/3
154 "Bluer Than Blue" Michael Johnson 2/2
155 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 4/4
156 "Rat Race" The Specials 2/2
157 "Roll with the Changes" REO Speedwagon 1/1
158 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 4/5
159 "Hold On to the Night" Bootcamp 2/2
160 "Double Life" The Cars 2/2
161 "Take It on the Run" REO Speedwagon 3/3
162 "We Don't Talk Anymore" Cliff Richard 2/2
163 "Sister Disco" The Who 2/2
164 "Celebrate the Bullet" The Selecter 2/2
165 "More Than I Can Say" Leo Sayer 2/2
166 "I Hope I Never" Split Enz 1/1
167 "Talk of the Town" The Pretenders 3/3
168 "Hold on Loosely" .38 Special 3/3
169 "Blondes (Have More Fun)" Rod Stewart 1/1
170 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 4/4
171 "Savannah Nights" Tom Johnston 2/2
172 "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar 3/3
173 "Don't Let Him Go" REO Speedwagon 2/2
174 "Never Let Her Slip Away" Andrew Gold 1/1
175 "Time Heals" Todd Rundgren 3/3
176 "Brass in Pocket" The Pretenders 2/2
177 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 4/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
178 "A Little in Love" Cliff Richard 2/2
179 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" Rod Stewart 2/2
180 "Victim" Bootcamp 2/2
181 "Baker Street" Gerry Rafferty 2/2
182 "He Can't Love You" Michael Stanley Band 2/2
183 "Looking for Clues" Robert Palmer 3/3
184 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 4/4
185 "Keep on Loving You" REO Speedwagon 3/3
186 "When Things Go Wrong" Robin Lane and the Chartbusters 2/2
187 "Little Suzi's on the Up" Ph.D. 3/3
188 "The Best of Times" Styx 3/3
189 "Sailing" Rod Stewart 2/2
190 "You Better You Bet" The Who 5/5
191 "Iron Maiden" Iron Maiden 2/2
192 "Can't Happen Here" Rainbow 3/3
193 "Oliver's Army" Elvis Costello 2/2
194 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 5/5 from Live in London
195 "Come What May" Lani Hall and Herb Alpert 2/2
196 "Tattooed Love Boys" The Pretenders 1/1
197 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 5/5
198 "Peter Gunn Theme/Remote Control" The Silencers 1/1
199 "Dreamin'" Cliff Richard 2/2
200 "Lucille" Rockestra 3/3 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
201 "Boys Keep Swinging" David Bowie 2/2
202 "Johnny & Mary" Robert Palmer 2/2
203 "Only the Strong Survive" REO Speedwagon 1/1
204 "Waiting for the Weekend" The Vapors 1/1
205 "You're Insane" Rod Stewart 1/1
206 "Kiss on My List" Hall & Oates 1/1
207 "Living in the Plastic Age" The Buggles 1/1
208 "Lonely Boy" Andrew Gold 1/1

References[edit]

General references[edit]

  • Hoye, Jacob. MTV Uncensored. Pocket Books, 2001. ISBN 0-7434-2682-7.
  • Boston Globe: MTV's first 10 music videos

Inline citations[edit]

  1. ^ "VH1 Classic to show MTV's first day on air", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2006.
  2. ^ Daniel Rubin, "Blinq: After 25 years, do you still want your MTV?" Philadelphia Inquirer, August 1, 2006  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  3. ^ "MTV Launches 'Classic' Channel Dedicated to 1990s". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  4. ^ This column indicates how many times the video was played on MTV's first day, and for videos with multiple plays on that day, which play it was. For example, an entry of "1/2" means that this was the first time the particular video was played that day out of two total plays.

External links[edit]