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Tim’s Five Most Influential Music Videos [VIDEO]

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This week marks the 32nd anniversary of MTV, and back on August 1, 1981, nobody would have though that the “music video” would eventually go on to become modern art.

This Saturday morning, I’ll pay homage to MTV (and I’ll lament the days when they used to actually play music videos) during The Tim Weisberg Show from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. We’ll talk MTV memories, where we were when we first saw the channel, and yes, we’ll probably complain about how one of the most iconic creations of the 1980s has given way to mindless garbage like 16 and Pregnant and the Jersey Shore franchise. Our moms were right, MTV would rot our brains…but not for the first 20 years or so, when it was still a glorious revolution that was, indeed, televised.

I asked people on my Facebook page this week what music videos were most influential during MTV’s initial heyday, and predictably, I got a list of people’s favorite videos instead of what ones really set the bar during the channel’s fledgling youth. Naturally there have been dozens of outstanding videos over the years–but I’m looking for the game-changers. So here’s five of the most influential videos of MTV’s first decade, in my opinion, and in no particular order. I’m sure I left some out so let me know in the comments below and be sure to call in Saturday morning to discuss.

THE BUGGLES–VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR

“Ladies and gentlemen…rock and roll.” Upon MTV’s launch, this was the first video the network ever played and was a perfect fit. Despite being from 1979, this video accurately depicted what would take place once MTV hit the airwaves. The stars of radio gave way to a new wave that became the New Wave. Oh, and this video also kicked off the classic cliche of inexplicable, unnecessary explosions in music videos.

DURAN DURAN–HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF

After this video hit, Duran Duran was everywhere, helped by the fact that they were good-looking dudes ready for their MTV closeup. It was one of the first examples of how MTV could “make” a band like no radio station ever could before. But this video is most influential for the fact that it was one of the first shot on film instead of videotape, giving it a cinematic quality equal to its storyline. It was directed by Russell Mulcahey–who, incidentally, directed the Buggles’ video above–and who would later go on to direct such films as Highlander.

MICHAEL JACKSON–THRILLER

Really…do I need to say anything about what is, without a doubt, the greatest music video of all time? It made MJ, it made MTV, it made Ola Ray–well, two out of three ain’t bad.

PETER GABRIEL–SLEDGEHAMMER

Nine MTV Video Music Awards went to this 1986 classic, which featured stop-motion animation and Gabriels’ new-found pop sensibility, which was a completely different frontier for the former Genesis frontman. A-ha’s Take On Me had set the animation bar pretty high the year before, but Gabriel jumped right over it. The guys behind this iconic video eventually went on to create the Wallace and Gromit cartoons, but they could have retired just on this masterpiece alone. It rivals Thriller as the most-played video of all-time and was also one of the hardest levels in Vid Grid for the gone-but-not-forgotten Atari Jaguar. Also, it only took about 25 years, but I finally figured out this song wasn’t about bumper cars, steam trains, fruit cages or honey bees–it’s about S-E-X!

RUN DMC & AEROSMITH–WALK THIS WAY

This video literally broke down the wall between rap and rock, and introduced hip hop music to suburbia. It was producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin who convinced Run DMC to cover the Aerosmith classic, but it took a big leap of faith by Steven Tyler to not only allow his song to be turned into a hip hop track, but to also join in the fun and bust a funky rhyme of his own. Aerosmith’s career was revitalized by the track’s success, and they went on to create some pretty influential videos of their own in the early 90s. Meanwhile, hip hop had made it off Yo! MTV Raps and into the mainstream for good.

So what do you think? Good list, or am I way off?

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