|"Video Killed the Radio Star"|
|Single by Bruce Woolley|
|from the album English Garden|
|"Video Killed the Radio Star"|
|Single by The Buggles|
|from the album The Age of Plastic|
|Released||7 September 1979|
|Studio||Virgin's Townhouse (West London, UK), Sarm East Studios (Brick Lane, London, UK)|
|The Buggles singles chronology|
"Video Killed the Radio Star" is a song written by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley in 1978. It was first recorded by Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for their album English Garden , and later by British new wave/synth-pop group the Buggles, consisting of Horn and Downes. The track was recorded and mixed in 1979, released as their debut single on 7 September 1979 by Island Records, and included on their first album The Age of Plastic . The backing track was recorded at Virgin's Town House in West London, and mixing and vocal recording would later take place at Sarm East Studios.
The song relates to concerns about mixed attitudes towards 20th-century inventions and machines for the media arts. Musically, the song performs like an extended jingle and the composition plays in the key of D-flat major in common time at a tempo of 132 beats per minute. The track has been positively received, with reviewers praising its unusual musical pop elements. Although the song includes several common pop characteristics and six basic chords are used in its structure, Downes and writer Timothy Warner described the piece as musically complicated, due to its use of suspended and minor ninth chords for enhancement that gave the song a "slightly different feel."
On release, the single topped sixteen international music charts, including those in the UK, Australia, and Japan. It also peaked in the top 10 in Canada, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa, but only reached number 40 in the US. The accompanying music video was written, directed, and edited by Russell Mulcahy. It was the first music video shown on MTV in the US, airing at 12:01 a.m. on 1 August 1981, and the first video shown on MTV Classic in the UK on 1 March 2010. The song has received several critical accolades, such as being ranked number 40 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s. It has also been covered by many recording artists.
The Buggles, which formed in 1977, first consisted of Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley.They all wrote "Video Killed the Radio Star" in an hour of one afternoon in 1978, six months before it was recorded, together in Downes' apartment located above a monumental stonemason's in Wimbledon Park, London. The piece was built up from a chorus riff developed by Woolley. It is one of the three Buggles songs that Woolley assisted in writing, the two others being "Clean, Clean" and "On TV." An early demo of the song, featuring Horn's then-girlfriend Tina Charles on vocals, helped the group get signed to Island Records to record and release their debut album The Age of Plastic , as well as producing and writing for the label, after Downes' girlfriend, who worked for Island, managed to get it played to executives there. Woolley left during recording to form his own band, The Camera Club, which did their own version of "Video", as well as "Clean, Clean" for their album English Garden .
Horn has said that J.G. Ballard's short story "The Sound-Sweep", in which the title character—a mute boy vacuuming up stray music in a world without it—comes upon an opera singer hiding in a sewer, provided inspiration for "Video," and he felt "an era was about to pass."Horn claimed that Kraftwerk was another influence of the song: "...It was like you could see the future when you heard Kraftwerk, something new is coming, something different. Different rhythm section, different mentality. So we had all of that, myself and Bruce, and we wrote this song probably six months before we recorded it." In a 2018 interview Horn stated: "I'd read JG Ballard and had this vision of the future where record companies would have computers in the basement and manufacture artists. I'd heard Kraftwerk's The Man-Machine and video was coming. You could feel things changing".
All the tracks of The Age of Plastic deal with positives and concerns of the impact of modern technology.The theme of "Video Killed the Radio Star" is thus nostalgia, with the lyrics referring to a period of technological change in the 1960s, the desire to remember the past and the disappointment that children of the current generation would not appreciate the past. The lyrics relate to concerns of the varied behaviours towards 20th-century technical inventions and machines used and changed in media arts such as photography, cinema, radio, television, audio recording and record production. According to Horn, the band initially struggled to come up with a line to follow the song's opening ("I heard you on the wireless back in '52"): he eventually came up with "Lying awake intent at tuning in on you", inspired by memories of listening to Radio Luxembourg at night as a child. Woolley worried about the song's name, given the existence of a band with the name Radio Stars and a song titled "Video King" by singer Snips.
The Buggles' version of "Video Killed the Radio Star" is a new wave and synth-pop song.It performs like an extended jingle, sharing its rhythm characteristics with disco. The piece plays in common time at a bright tempo of 132 beats per minute. It is in the key of D♭ major, and six basic chords are used in the song's chord progression. According to Geoff Downes, "It's actually a lot more complicated piece of music than people think, for instance part of the bridge is actually suspended chords and minor 9ths. A lot of people transcribed the song wrongly, they thought it was a straight F# chord. The song was written in D flat. The suspended gives it a slightly different feel." Writing in his book, Pop Music: Technology and Creativity: Trevor Horn and the Digital Revolution, Timothy Warner said that the "relatively quiet introduction" helping the listener detect a high amount of "tape hiss" generated through the use of analogue multi-track tape recorders, as well as the timbre of the synthesized instruments, give an indication of the technical process and time of producing the song.
The song took more than three months of production. equivalent to £346,751in 2019) to produce, and the song was mixed by Gary Langan four or five times. According to Langan, "there was no total recall, so we just used to start again. We’d do a mix and three or four days later Trevor would go, 'It's not happening. We need to do this and we need to do that.' The sound of the bass drum was one of his main concerns, along with his vocal and the backing vocals. It was all about how dry and how loud they should be in the mix without the whole thing sounding ridiculous. As it turned out, that record still had the loudest bass drum ever for its time."In 2018 Downes stated that the version that was released was rewritten from that recorded for the band's demo tape: the verses were extended and Downes contributed a new intro and middle eight, with the bulk of the original song having already been written by Horn and Woolley when he joined. The instrumental track was recorded at Virgin's Town House in West London in twelve hours, with mixing and recording of vocals held at Sarm East Studios. The entire song was mixed through a Trident TSM console. "Video" was the first track recorded for the group's debut LP The Age of Plastic , which cost a sum of £60,000 (
The song includes instrumentation of drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, synth strings, piano, glockenspiel, marimbas and other futuristic, twinkly sounds, and vocals. [ text–source integrity? ] Downes used a Solina, Minimoog and Prophet-5 to create the overdubbed orchestral parts. Both the male and female voices differ to give a tonal and historical contrast. When Langan was interviewed in December 2011, he believed the male vocal was recorded through either a dynamic Shure SM57, SM58, Sennheiser 421, or STC 4038 ribbon microphone, and that four or five takes had to be done. The male voice echos the song's theme in the tone of the music, initially limited in bandwidth to give a "telephone" effect typical of early broadcasts, and uses a Mid-Atlantic accent resembling that of British singers in the 1950s and '60s. The Vox AC30 amplifier was used to achieve the telephone effect, and Gary Langan says he was trying to make it "loud without cutting your head off", in others words make the voice sound soft. Gary Langan and Trevor Horn also tried using a bullhorn, but they found it too harsh. Langan later compressed and EQ'd the male vocals, and he said that doing the compression for old-style vocal parts was a "real skill." The female vocals are panned in the left and right audio channels, and sound more modern and have a New York accent.
The single version of "Video Killed the Radio Star" lasts for 3 minutes and 25 seconds. The album version plays for 4 minutes and 13 seconds, about 48 seconds longer than the single version, as it fades into a piano and synth coda, which ends with a brief sampling of the female vocals.
"Video Killed the Radio Star" was a huge commercial success, reaching number one on 16 different national charts.In the Buggles' home country, the song made its debut on the UK Singles Chart in the top 40 at number 24, on the issue dated 29 September 1979. The next week, the track entered into the chart's top ten at number six, before topping the chart on the week of 20 October. It was the 444th UK number-one hit in the chart's entire archive. The single was later certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for UK sales of 500,000.
In Australia, "Video Killed the Radio Star" reached number one, where it was the best-selling record for 27 years.In late 1979, while the single was still in an eight-week run at Number one in the charts, the single was awarded a platinum disc by Festival Records, the record's distributing company, for sales of over 100,000 copies in Australia. The track went number one on the Italian Singles Chart in 1980, where it became the best-selling single of the same year. The song also made a number-one peak in France and Spain, where it was certified gold and platinum, respectively, as well as Austria, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland. In other parts of Europe and Oceania, "Video Killed the Radio Star" was a number-two hit in Germany and New Zealand, and also charted in Flanders on the Ultratop 50 and in the Netherlands, on the Nationale Hitparade Top 50 (now the Single Top 100) and Dutch Top 40.
"Video Killed the Radio Star" did not start charting in North America, however, until November 1979. In the United States, the song appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100, barely breaking into the top 40 on both charts.In a 2015 list from Billboard, it tied with Marvin Gaye's recording of "The End of Our Road" as the "Biggest Hot 100 Hit" at the peak of number 40. "Video Killed the Radio Star" debuted at number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the week of 10 November 1979, while on the Cashbox Top 100 it debuted at number 83 that same week. It started also at number 83 on the Canadian RPM Top Single Chart. By January 1980, it entered the top 40 at number 31, and on 2 February made it into the top 20 at number 11. Two weeks later, the song earned its peak in the top 10 at number 6 and issue dated 16 February 1980.
The song became a Billboard Top Single Pick on 3 November 1979, whom the publication found the chorus catchy and also highlighted the orchestral instruments supporting the backing singers.Although there had been a mixed review of the single from Smash Hits , who found the song to be "too tidy, like vymura" (wallpaper), they listed it in a review of The Age of Plastic as one of the best tracks of the album, along with "Living in the Plastic Age". Timothy Warner wrote that, although several common pop elements were still present in the song, it included stronger originality for its own purpose than most other pop hits released at the time. These unusual pop music characteristics include the timbres of the male and female vocal parts, and the use of suspended fourth and ninths chords for enhancement in its progression. He also felt it was unnecessary to dislike it as a "novelty song." AllMusic's Heather Phares said the track "can be looked on as a perfectly preserved new wave gem," "just as the song looks back on the radio songs of the '50s and '60s." She concluded her review by saying that it "still sounds as immediate as it did when it was released, however, and that may be the song's greatest irony."
However, many writers called Woolley's recording of "Video" much better than the Buggles' version.This included one critic who called both acts overall as of being very high quality, but felt that Woolley's version was more faithful to the source material than that of The Buggles, noting the filtered vocals and cute, female vocals of the latter rendition as giving it a novelty feel. However, he also wrote of liking both versions of "Clean, Clean" on the same level.
The music video for "Video Killed the Radio Star", written, directed and edited by Australian Russell Mulcahy,was produced on a budget of $50,000. It was filmed in only a day in South London, and was edited in a couple of days. Mulcahy asked Virginia Hey, a friend who was a model and aspiring actress, to dress "in a silver costume and be lowered via wires in a test tube." There were about 30 takes required for shots of the actress in the tube. The tube falls over in the video, although Mulcahy claims it was not intended to be shown in the final edit. Hans Zimmer can be briefly seen wearing black playing a keyboard, and Debi Doss and Linda Jardim, who provided the female vocals for the song, are also seen.
The video starts with a young girl sitting in front of a radio. A black-and-white shot of Trevor Horn singing into a radio-era microphone is superimposed over the young girl by the radio. The radio blows up by the time of the first chorus, and then in the second verse, she is seen transported into the future, where she meets Horn and a silver-jumpsuited female in a clear plastic tube. Shots of Horn and Geoff Downes are shown during the remainder of the video.
The video was first released in 1979, [ citation needed ] The video marked the closing of MTV Philippines before its shutdown on 15 February 2010 at 11:49 PM. MTV co-founder Bob Pittman said the video "made an aspirational statement. We didn't expect to be competitive with radio, but it was certainly a sea-change kind of video." In July 2013, multiple independent artists covered the song for the launch of the TV channel Pivot, which launched with the music video of the cover on 1 August at 6 am.when it originally aired on the BBC's Top of the Pops for promotion of the single, in lieu of doing live performances. Zimmer recalled in 2001 that the video drew criticism from some viewers who watched it before it aired on MTV, due to being "'too violent' because we blew up a television." The video is best known as marking the debut of MTV, when the US channel started broadcasting at 12:01 AM on 1 August 1981. On 27 February 2000, it became the one-millionth video to be aired on MTV. It also opened MTV Classic in the UK and Ireland, which replaced VH1 Classic on 1 March 2010, at 6 AM.
A notable interpretation of the melody was released in 1979 by French singer Ringo, using French language lyrics by Étienne Roda-Gil supplying a new title "Qui est ce grand corbeau noir ?" ("Who is this big black raven?") Ringo's version peaked at number 8 in France.
A rare live performance of the song by Horn and Downes came at a ZTT showcase in 1998.In 2004, the Buggles re-united again with Bruce Woolley at Wembley Arena to perform "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Living in the Plastic Age" as part of a tribute event to Horn to raise money for The Prince's Trust charity. They were joined by Debi Doss and Linda Jardim (now Linda Allan), who performed the background singing on the original recording. Paul Robinson, who played drums on the original, also appeared. Both Horn and Downes have performed the song live in other acts, including Yes (which Downes and Horn joined for the Drama album and tour in 1980), Downes in the 2006–2009 revival of Asia with John Wetton singing lead and again in 2017 with Billy Sherwood singing lead, and Horn in his band the Producers, also in 2006.
In November 2006, the Producers played at their first gig in Camden Town. A video clip can be seen on ZTT Records of Horn singing lead vocals and playing bass in a performance of "Video Killed the Radio Star". Tina Charles appears on a YouTube video singing 'Slave to the Rhythm' with the Producersand Horn reveals that Tina was the singer and originator of the "Oh Ah-Oh Ah-Oh" part of 'Video'; fellow 5000 Volt member Martin Jay was also a session musician on The Buggles record.
Robbie Williams performed the song with Trevor Horn at the BBC Electric Proms on 20 October 2009.
Sales and certifications
|20 to 1||Australia||Top 20 One Hit Wonders||2006||3|
|Bruce Pollock||United States||The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000||2005||*|
|Giannis Petridis||Greece||2004 of the Best Songs of the Century||2003|
|Gilles Verlant, Thomas Caussé||France||3000 Rock Classics||2009|
|The Guardian||United Kingdom||The Top 100 British Number 1 Singles||53|
|Hervé Bourhis||France||Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009||2009||*|
|Les Inrockuptibles||1000 Indispensable Songs||2006|
|Mashable||United States||32 Unforgettable Music Videos||2013|
|MSN Music||United Kingdom||Best Song Titles Ever||2003||19|
|NBC-10||United States||The 30 Best Songs of the 80s||2006||*|
|Pause & Play||Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week|
|PopMatters||The 100 Best Songs Since Johnny Rotten Roared||2003||73|
|Q||United Kingdom||The 1010 Songs You Must Own (Q50: One-hit Wonders)||2004||*|
|Time||United States||Top 10 MTV Moments||2010|
|Time Out||United Kingdom||100 Songs That Changed History||100|
|Triple J Hottest 100||Australia||Hottest 100 of All Time||1998||79|
|VH1||United States||100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80's||2009||40|
|100 Greatest Videos||2001||79|
|Volume!||France||200 Records that Changed the World||2008||*|
|Xfinity||United States||Top 10 Groundbreaking Videos||10|
|WhatCulture!||10 Controversial Music Videos That Look Tame Today||2013||*|
|WOXY.com||The 500 Best Modern Rock Songs of All Time||2008||348|
"*" indicates the list is unordered.
No. 1 chart lists
The Buggles were an English new wave band formed in London in 1977 by singer and bassist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes. They are best known for their 1979 debut single "Video Killed the Radio Star", which topped the UK Singles Chart and reached number one in 15 other countries.
The Age of Plastic is the debut album by the English new wave duo the Buggles, released on 10 January 1980 on Island Records. It is a concept album about the possible repercussions of modern technology. The title was conceived from the group's intention of being a "plastic group" and the album was produced in the wake of the success of their debut record, "Video Killed the Radio Star" (1979), which topped the UK Singles Chart. Most of the album's other tracks were written during promotion of the single.
Trevor Charles Horn is a British bassist, singer, songwriter, music producer, and recording studio and label owner. He is best known for his production work since the 1980s and, before that, being one half of the new wave band the Buggles. Horn took up the bass guitar at an early age and taught himself the instrument and to sight-read music. In the 1970s, he worked as a session musician, built his own studio, and wrote and produced singles for various artists.
Art of Noise were an English avant-garde synth-pop group formed in early 1983 by engineer/producer Gary Langan and programmer J. J. Jeczalik, along with arranger Anne Dudley, producer Trevor Horn, and music journalist Paul Morley. The group had international Top 20 hits with "Kiss" and the instrumental "Peter Gunn", which won a 1986 Grammy Award.
Adventures in Modern Recording is the second studio album by English new wave duo The Buggles, released on 11 November 1981 by Carrere Records. Made one year after their stint as members of Yes, the album contains nine tracks, including a stripped-down version of Yes's "Into the Lens", here entitled, "I Am a Camera". The album as released was mostly a Trevor Horn solo effort, Geoffrey Downes having joined Asia before recording began. Bruce Woolley assisted in completing the tracks.
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"Sledgehammer" is a song by English rock musician Peter Gabriel. It was released as the lead single from his fifth studio album, So (1986), on 21 April 1986. It was produced by Gabriel and Daniel Lanois. It hit No. 1 in Canada on 21 July 1986, where it spent four weeks; No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States on 26 July 1986; and No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart, thanks in part to its music video. It was his biggest hit in North America and ties with "Games Without Frontiers" as his biggest hit in the United Kingdom.
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Bruce Woolley is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He wrote songs with artists such as The Buggles and Grace Jones, including "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Slave to the Rhythm", and co-founded The Radio Science Orchestra.
"Living in the Plastic Age" is a synthpop song written, performed and produced by The Buggles. It was released as the second single from their debut album The Age of Plastic on 14 January 1980.
"Into the Lens" is a song written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. It was originally released in 1980 by progressive rock band Yes, of which Horn and Downes were a part, as a part of the album Drama, before being reworked as "I Am a Camera" for the 1981 album Adventures in Modern Recording by The Buggles, a duo consisting of Horn and Downes; both versions were released as singles, with the Yes single being re-titled "Into the Lens ".
Geoffrey Downes is an English keyboardist, songwriter, and record producer who gained fame as a member of the new wave group the Buggles with Trevor Horn, the progressive rock band Yes, and the supergroup Asia.
"Elstree" is a synthpop song by the Buggles from their debut album, The Age of Plastic. It was the fourth and final single from the album, released on 27 October 1980. It was written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes.
"Clean, Clean" is a song composed by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley. It was recorded first by the latter for his band Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club in 1979, and later by the former two as The Buggles for their debut album The Age of Plastic. It was released as the album's third single on 24 March 1980.
"I Love You " is a song written, performed and produced by the Buggles, a duo of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, for their 1980 debut studio album The Age of Plastic. It was not released as a single. The song is, according to Downes, about "being on the road and making love to someone you don't really like", although music critics consider the song's subject having to do with a robot. The song was performed live in 2010, as part of the first performance of all the tracks from The Age of Plastic.
"Check It Out" is a song performed by American rappers will.i.am and Nicki Minaj. The song, written by will.i.am and Minaj, samples the 1979 hit single "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. After release, it debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at #78 and #48 on the Canadian Hot 100. It appears on Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday, though it was not released in promotion of the album. The special remix released in the UK also features will.i.am's close friend, English recording artist Cheryl Cole. The song peaked at #24 on Billboard Hot 100; as of December 2013, the song has sold 780,000 digital downloads.
The Trevor Horn Band are an English supergroup formed in 2006 as The Producers, when they included record producers Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson (guitar), and musicians Lol Creme and Ash Soan (drums). The band briefly adopted the name US before changing to Producers. Latterly, they have switched to the name The Trevor Horn Band.
"Lenny" is a song by British synthpop group The Buggles from their second and final album Adventures in Modern Recording. It was released as the album's third single in September 1982 and was written and produced by both Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. The song became popular in the Netherlands, charting on both the Mega Single Top 100 and Dutch Top 40, and has been positively received by critics.
The Buggles, a duo consisting of bassist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes, have a discography of two studio albums, a compilation album and video live album, a promotional extended play, nine singles, and three music videos. The Buggles also produced three songs, "Back of My Hand" by The Jags, "Monkey Chop" by Dan-I, and "Film Star" by Tom Marshall. The group formed in 1977 in Wimbledon, South West London, and were signed by Island Records to record and publish their debut studio album, The Age of Plastic, which was released in 1980. The album charted in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, and Japan.
English Garden, released in North America as Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club, is a studio album by Bruce Woolley and his new wave band The Camera Club. The band consisted of Woolley on vocals, Matthew Seligman on bass, Rod Johnson on drums, Dave Birch on guitar, and Thomas Dolby on keyboards. Before forming the group, Woolley was creating pop songs intended for publishing companies, but he was not happy with what the artists were doing with his songs and decided to write material for himself.