clockwise from left: a-ha, TLC, Sinead O’Connor, OutKast | stills from videos
XPN’s 100 Greatest Music Videos of the MTV Era
If you tuned in to Day One of #XPNMTVWeek, you heard our playback of the first 100 unique videos that were broadcast on the network when it launched in August of 1981. You probably also heard a lot that you weren’t expecting. What was up with all the Rod Stewart and REO Speedwagon? Where were the songs with iconic videos — like Devo’s “Whip It,” Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing,” and Toni Basil’s “Mickey”?
While we cant help you with the former question, Eric Schuman had a very concise answer for the latter when he wrapped up the playback just before 5 p.m.. “A lot of music videos that everybody thinks of when they think of MTV were not out in August of 1981, silly.”
In that spirit, we here at XPN have buckled down and compiled this day-long playlist that captures the full spectrum of the MTV era, from 80s classics like “Take On Me” by a-ha — and its brilliant Steve Barron-directed video mixing live action and animation — to moments from the 90s golden era like Sinead O’Connor’s stunning, solitary version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and TLC’s dazzling “Waterfalls.” We even take it all the way into the new millennium with imaginative videos by OutKast and OK Go.
Tune in with us all day long, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on 88.5 FM in Philly or streaming online at XPN.org. And to catch up on any videos you missed, check out the full YouTube playlist below.