I would like my MTV back for just a little while. Please?

Ok, I know I’m a little late with the MTV retrospective. The anniversary came and went a few days ago, but I was traveling home from vacation, and then had missing kitties, and then had to watch episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey that I missed while I was gone. This is the first chance I’ve had to reminisce about my experiences with the inception of MTV.

My first MTV video was not “Video Killed The Radio Star.” When I was channel surfing our Vision Cable lineup in August of 1981, I stumbled across Rod Stewart singing “Tonight’s the Night” and thought, “well, what’s this all about?” Another video followed. I want to believe it was Leo Sayer singing “How Much Love” but I could be horribly wrong. All I know is the videos went on, and on, and on, and on.

My sisters got involved and very interested. We were glued to the TV. Even when MTV played filler segments – usually footage of space launches and building demolitions accompanied by rock and roll instrumentals – we were riveted. We loved Martha Quinn, were jealous of Nina Blackwood, and tolerated the male VJ’s (hearing the phrase “triple J” got annoying quickly). It was all so new – not just the concept of a video, but bands I had never heard of before; The Pretenders, Madness, Ultravox, The Silencers, Human League.

It wasn’t long before my mother was pulling her hair out by the roots screaming “I hate my MTV!” We monopolized the main living room tv at all hours. Doritos and diet Pepsi on hand, we watched that channel 24/7. And while many people talk about the greatest videos to appear on MTV, I tend to remember the oddest/clever/crazy videos – the one’s that made you say “what. the. fuck.” Here is are a few of the videos (that I can’t think of right now) that made the early days of MTV truly classic:

Fish Heads – Barnes & Barnes
If you choose to watch the link, forward to about 2:15 – the stuff before is mindless filler, but just further illustrates the nutsy cuckoo mindset behind this video and song.

Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush
Early, unimaginative video at its best. Had she filmed this a few years later, I can see a professional video shot with castles and mist-covered moors. Instead, we have strange Kate dancing around in a white dress.

Remote Control/Illegal – The Silencers
Skip past the Peter Gunn theme to :55 to get to the crux of the video they used to play on MTV. We LOVED this video. The dude in the white tux – the broad with the straps criss crossed over her ample bosom, Eye patch guy, and a chick getting whiplash courtesy of her boyfriend in the concert crowd.

She Blinded Me With Science – Thomas Dolby
Really, who doesn’t love this song? The weird old guy screaming “science!” – the mental ward – And Miss Sakimoto who you could pluck a mean bass on…what’s not to love?

Looking for Clues – Robert Palmer
Little tiny Robert Palmer wandering around a set with giant telephones, alphabet blocks, and a dancing plastic skeleton. A true Early MTV Mother F-ing classic.

Little Susie’s on the Up – Ph.D.
Most folks might remember Ph.D’s other hit “I won’t let you down,” which is also very list-worthy – but this is their little known other MTV offering. It’s such a bizarre little video; chick readies herself for the local dance contest while people around her eat little white balls of who the hell knows what.

Living In The Plastic Age – The Buggles
Ok, everyone knows the original video – but how many of you saw their other MTV classic? Love the yellow rubber gloves, and black painted gals doubling as keyboards. The heart police capture a young lad clad in nothing but safety goggles and blue & red cellophane – I’m sure that kid dies of embarrassment whenever this video is shown.

Backfired – Debbie Harry
What was she thinking. One of the worst MTV videos made on purpose. I mean, I can understand some really bad videos made before MTV was invented – they didn’t know what they were doing, so they have an excuse. And the song isn’t that bad – but that dude in the mask and barry manilow wig? fuggedaboutit.

Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello
I knew Elvis Costello existed through commercials I used to see for a record store during “The Uncle Floyd Show,” but I think this video was my first real exposure to his music. When he is playing guitar on the beach in a black suit and pink socks and then runs away rather spazmodically my sisters and I would absolutely lose it. And that gap between his front teeth is so fucking cool!

Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) – Haircut 100
I challenge anyone to not at least tap your feet to this song. The video, shot in a bowling alley with folks wearing socks on their hands? Come on – join the party and sing Why-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye Feel the floor, sweets for my way.

Ant Music – Adam & The Ants
I thank MTV for introducing me to Adam Ant. The white stripe across the face, the swashbuckling boots, the stick with which to tap out the beat, the feathers, braids and clear lip gloss – I credit this video for my best Halloween costume EVER during my sophomore year at U of D. Dirk wears white socks.

I miss old MTV. I mean, I have loved The Real World, and Made, and Road Rules and several other MTV shows that sort of nudged out the old video format. But I wish they would commit one day a week – for just a few hours – to the old format of original, bad, clever, annoying, 80’s style videos.

And as a footnote, my kids stared at me with horror-like awe as I belted out the lyrics to every song mentioned above. Except Fish heads. That one isn’t too much fun to sing.

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