This Day in 1981: MTV Launches
35 years ago today, MTV went on the air and played 208 videos over the course of the first 24 hours. Not 208 different videos, mind you, but…well, look, we’re living in a world where the “M” in MTV hasn’t meant “music” in quite some time, so they could’ve played two videos and it would’ve been impressive. That they played 208 of them might completely blow the minds of a generation who grew up with non-stop non-music programming on the network.
In celebration of this momentous anniversary, we’ve put together a playlist featuring 50 songs from that fateful day, all of which come from within our catalog. It only takes a cursory glance at the contents to inspire a double-take at the ridiculous amount of variety, but to put things in the proper context, you have to recall that music videos were in no way what you’d call prevalent before MTV took off in a big way, so the network had to fall back on whatever existed at that time, which was – to put it mildly – a pretty limited selection.
Sure, there was still plenty of great stuff in the mix – Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Genesis, Todd Rundgren, the Cars – but at the same time, you can’t help but look at some of the artists and think, “Wow, that really speaks to how limited their options were.”
Sorry, Lee Ritenour, but we know you know that we’re looking at you…