Who killed the Video Star?

Driving with the Daughter the other night, we were listening to the radio and I started talking about music videos. This conversation came on the heels of our Winter Sucks But The 80s Rocked Family BBQ last week, when the playlist was all about the Talking Heads and Duran Durans and Wham and yada yada.

There are songs I hear to this day that spark a vivid replay of the associated videos in my head. I don’t hear the music so much as SEE the music, you know? I came of age….

>My Dog, did I really just use that phrase? How much more middle-aged can one get? Gah. Nonetheless….

I came of age when the best thing about the advent of cable TV (next to being able to see Star Wars in your own living room) was the presence of 24-hour music video stations. Up here in Canada, MTV was inaccessible, so we watched MuchMusic (Channel 14 on your cable dial) instead. And on Friday nights, you watched Terry David Mulligan on Good Rockin’ Tonite.  Conversations in the school hallway tended toward “Did you see <insert band name here>’s new video yet? It’s TOTALLY AWESOME.”

Bands like Duran Duran put umpty-thousands of dollars into videos that were lavish productions in and of themselves. There are songs that never would have gotten airtime, never would have been heard if it hadn’t been for the video catching on. The music video took art and made it better art.

I don’t know when music videos lost their lustre. The Daughter informs me that it’s not so much about the video anymore, even though MuchMusic is still around and you can now watch all manner of videos on a teeny-tiny iPod screen. I do know I’ve never seen a single one of my kids watch music videos on TV. Perhaps it faded away during the early days of accessing music online, when you could get the sounds in the blink of an eye but not the pictures so easily. Who knows?

I miss the videos, but they stay with you. So much so that when I hear Sugarland’s remake of Life In A Northern Town, I still see the Dream Acadamey’s version, in full and living colour, while the music plays.

Maybe I just need to get out more.


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