I'm old enough to remember when MTV took to the airwaves - August 1, 1981. It didn't take long before the music channel assaulted all of us with its slogan, "I want my MTV." I remember the cheesy promotional photos of the Apollo 11 moon landing, with the flag featuring MTV's logo. I even remember the original five VJ's - Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn - and thinking none of them had an ounce of talent, but I didn't mind Martha Quinn because at least she was pretty cute.
I'm old enough to remember when MTV played music, but I didn't see the first two videos that were aired, The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" and Pat Benatar's "You Better Run," because we didn't have cable. Both videos are merely mediocre, but here are five killer videos that I have had the opportunity to view.
Artist: Johnny Cash
Director: Mark Romanek
Romanek's video captures a beleaguered Cash at the end of his tumultuous life. The video accomplishes what every great video should accomplish - it enhances the singer's performance.
Song: "Buddy Holly"
Director: Spike Jonze
Who's the coolest fictional character of all time? That's right, Fonzie. Well, The Fonz is the star of Spike Jonze's video, so that makes Weezer's video the coolest of all time.
Song: "Once in a Lifetime"
Band: Talking Heads
Director: Toni Basil
Remember Toni Basil? She had one that annoying hit in the 80s, "Mickey." "Mickey" wasn't so fine, but the Talking Heads video she directed certainly is. Basil directed and helped choreograph the "Once in a Lifetime" video that managed to capture David Byrne's bizarre brilliance. Even though "Once in a Lifetime" didn't receive much radio play, it was in heavy rotation on MTV.
Band: Pearl Jam
Director: Mark Pellington
One of the most artistic videos ever. The final scene still gives me goose bumps. Mark Pellington has said, "I think that video tapped into something that has always been around and will always be around. You're always going to have peer pressure, you're always going to have adolescent rage, you're always going to have dysfunctional families."
Artist: Peter Gabriel
Director: Stephen R. Johnson
In 1986, Stephen R. Johnson's video for "Sledgehammer" was considered groundbreaking for "its innovative use of claymation, pixilation and stop-motion animation." Today, it's still impressive.