Turns out that the revolution WOULD be televised. The musical revolution, that is.

On August 1st, 1981, MTV was launched. It was the first TV channel to devote itself exclusively to music videos. When it debuted (with The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”), I don’t think anyone had the slightest idea that MTV would turn into the cultural phenomenon it became.  Within a few short years, the video age began. The era of the faceless, unphotogenic rock star was out, and all of a sudden you had to LOOK good in addition to sounding good (and later on, you didn’t even have to sound especially good). MTV has launched, resurrected and killed the careers of literally thousands of musicians, as well as a few actors, regular Joes and even a president or two. There might still be a week left in August, but we’ve decided to commemorate this anniversary by creating several lists of our favorite videos.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll get our favorite videos of the Nineties and Oughts, but for now, let’s celebrate MTV’s formative decade with a listing of our favorite videos of the Eighties. The crack staff here at Popblerd HQ has put together a pretty interesting list: a little rock ‘n roll, a little hair metal, a little hip-hop, a little new wave, and tons of Michael Jackson and Madonna. Stay tuned all week as we get closer and closer to our #1 video of the decade. Let’s get things started with #50.

50. “Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anyone Seen My Love)”-Bob Dylan (1985)

This video has way too much crazy and awesome in it for me to properly explain in the English language. Here we have Robert Zimmerman in Japan, apparently playing multiple roles, and involved in some kind of OJ-esque murder mystery? CRAZY PANTS. How this wasn’t a bigger hit, I have no clue.

49. “Mexican Radio”-Wall of Voodoo (1983)

The coolest thing about Eighties videos? There was no precedent on strangeness, so these clips came by their strangeness naturally, with no real intent of shock value. This 1983 clip is just fucking bizarre, from the bullfight footage to the Juan Valdez-looking dude to Wall of Voodoo’s spastic lead singer.

48. “Hey Ladies”-Beastie Boys (1989)

This is your brain on drugs. And not the cheap kind of drugs that the Beasties were using during the Licensed to Ill era. This was some GOOD shit. Bonus points for intense usage of cowbell, underwater rhyming, and the fact that Mike D. didn’t look like an old lesbian back in the day. One of the best in a long line of fantastic Beastie Boys videos.

47. “1999”-Prince (1982)

Prince Rogers Nelson staring deeply into the camera? Check. Lisa Coleman and Jill Jones staring deeply into each other’s eyes? Check. Funky-ass tune about the end of the world? Check. Prince became one of MTV’s biggest stars not only due to his prodigious musical talent, but the fact that he had visually captivating videos without the benefit of special effects.

46. “You Shook Me All Night Long”-AC/DC (1980)

One of the greatest rock songs every written accompanied by a black and white Benny Hill-esque video where singer Brian Johnson prepares to go meet his ample bosomed female friend and upon arrival, the video bursts into color and he joins his bandmates in AC/DC to finish out the song while his lady rides a mechanical bull. This video sums up AC/DC perfectly. –Nick

45. “Faith”-George Michael (1987)

“but when you shake your ass/they notice fast/some mistakes were built to last.”

44. “You Got Lucky”-Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1982)

Few dispute Tom Petty’s place in rock and roll history as one of the most consistent artists of the last thirty plus years. Often overlooked however, are his contributions to the music video form. Petty’s work with a number of talented directors over the years has produced an impressive back catalog of some of the most visually interesting rock videos of the MTV era. Petty’s first appearance on our list shows his playfulness and propensity toward building music videos into a narrative format rather than simply miming a performance.

In “You Got Lucky,” Petty and Co. play a ragtag crew from the future who uncover a boombox in the desert, only to then stumble into an abandoned recording studio (evoking the lyrics of another song on our list that introduced the world to MTV). As the crew absorbs this vestige of a time gone by, spaceman Campbell picks up the guitar and enchants his comrades with its strange sounds (which he of course snags as a souvenir). It’s a case of the video totally reinterpreting the song’s lyrics, from a cocky lover strutting his stuff to a kind of love song to rock (the boys are lucky to have found the studio; we’re all lucky to have found rock and roll). “You Got Lucky” isn’t particular flashy (that would come two years later), but it’s cheekiness and apparent commentary on rock n’ roll make it one of Petty’s most memorable clips.-Dr. Gonzo

43. “Patience”-Guns ‘n Roses (1989)

Axl Rose was another star who came of age in the MTV era that was visually arresting without special effects. Over the years, his videos got more and more elaborate, but “Patience” (the song as well as the video) is striking in it’s simplicity. How many people tried to imitate the Axl Rose snake dance back in the day?

42. “Kiss”-Prince & the Revolution (1986)

As expected with Prince, “Kiss” is almost too sexy for words. Leaping and slithering through this song, he’s joined by a woman wearing a funky cape and lingerie, and a decidedly amused Wendy Melvoin. Interesting how so many of Prince’s best videos played off of another band member-often as a comic foil of sorts.

Unfortunately, this video has been blocked on copyright grounds, so we can’t show it here. Fuck Prince.


41. “The One Thing”-INXS (1983)

A frontman who oozed sex, like an Eighties version of Jim Morrison with MUCH better songs, they don’t make ’em like Michael Hutchence anymore. And there were TWO videos for INXS’s breakout hit, both included in this very well-made fan video. How come I don’t get invited to dinner parties like this?

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