Early MTV: The Buggles, Duran Duran and More


This week on the Totally 80's Podcast, producer and songwriter Adam Schlesinger (known for his work with Fountains of Wayne, Ivy, and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend") sits down with hosts Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume) and John Hughes to reminisce on the glorious formative days of MTV. Listen to the podcast here

The trio discuss their memories of MTV's videos on-repeat, the commercials, and the lasting impact it had on 80's kids and pop culture. The full podcast is available to listen below. 


PARKER: "It went on in '81, I got it in late '82."

HUGHES: "Were you in New Jersey?"

PARKER: "New Jersey was one of the first to get it."

SCHLESINGER: "I was in New Jersey. I mean, it was huge for me. Obviously it was huge. I don't know if I remember the exact first time I discovered it, but I just remember spending an awful lot of time watching it, um, and, uh, and just really loving it."

"And it actually stayed really important for me all the way through the point where my own bands were making videos. I mean, you know. Even at that point, which was in the, you know, mid to late '90s like getting a video on MTV at all was like the prize. So it was, it was really important in my world, you know, from the time I was starting to learn to play instruments all the way to actually working as a musician."


PARKER: "One of the most important video artists for me of the early MTV era was Duran Duran. Can we talk about your "Mexican Wine" video in which you recreated the [Duran Duran's] Rio yacht scene, even with like the slash graphics?That's like one of the best moments of '90s MTV for me. Or '00s, I should say."

SCHLESINGER: "Oh, thanks. Um, well, I mean, in retrospect, that video was probably a bit of a mistake because we, we had had this big hit right before that, 'Stacy's Mom,' and so everyone was like, Oh, you know, now you can do whatever you want with the video because you know they're going to give it a shot. So we're like, Oh, we want to get on a boat."

"Of course we want a helicopter. God, I mean, it was really, it was kind of that like, what's the most over the top ridiculous thing we could do? And the director was our friend Chris Applebaum, who had done Stacy's mom. There's, you know, a lot of references to 80's stuff. So it was just sort of a continuation of that mindset."

"There's also like a wall of voodoo shot in the "Mexican Wine" video with a face coming through the beans. I mean, at the time, that just seemed really novel, to like rip off these things that we love from the 80's."

HUGHES: "Were you jealous lady Jody Porter got to play the John Taylor part instead of you?"

SCHLESINGER: "[Laughs.] He looks a little more like it than I do unfortunately, I have to admit."


PARKER: "I watched the whole entire first hour of MTV, which now you can totally see on YouTube. And yeah, it was like. I mean, just the fact that The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star," which will forever be a trivia answer. 'Cause it was the first video and it was Russell Mulcahy, who's an amazing director."

"But that video looks like costs $10. It's weird. It looks like it was made in like a school lab. And it's great."

SCHLESINGER: "And I mean, some of those early videos look like they cost $0 dollars. I mean, people make infinitely more sophisticated stuff on their iPhone now or whatever."

HUGHES: "Speaking of which, what was the second music video?"

PARKER: "[Singing] You better run!"

HUGHES: "Which was her singing in an alley."

PARKER: " This is Pat Benatar for those who didn't get my singing, because I don't exactly sound like Pat, I don't quite have her multi octave range, but she was the second one and people were like, 'Hey, videos are happening.'"

The full podcast episode is available here.

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