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MTV turns 40! The channel that changed music videos forever [watch]

‘The best of TV, combined with the best of radio’: Take a trip down memory lane as we celebrate the 40th birthday of MTV.


Image via Unsplash

MTV has been a revolutionary part of shaping the music industry into what it is today. The popular music channel has been the beginning for so many musicians and their careers. 

Everyone has been hooked on MTV at some point. Whether you’re young or old, it was the go-to place for the hottest music videos. As the channel turns 40 years old this month, here is a look back on some of the biggest moments.

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MTV was launched on 1 August 1981 when not many of us were born. MTV wasn’t only the home of music videos, but also of entertaining reality shows like Jersey Shore, The Hills, and Pimp My Ride. MTV has seen some incredible moments in pop culture history.

One of the channel’s first VJs (video jockey) Mark Goodman, mentioned that MTV would be “The best of TV, combined with the best of radio” and it certainly lived up to that expectation. 

After successfully playing just music videos on rotation, by the mid 90s the channel began to play less music videos each day. Between 2000 and 2008, only three hours of music videos were playing a day.


The first music video to ever play on MTV was The Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star. The English band’s music video was fitting seeing as the song was written about the transition of digital media.  

Most people were tuned into the radio for their daily news updates but over the years transitioned to television.


MTV has premiered some of the most exciting music videos including Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. The video was released only two years after MTV’s launch and marked Michael Jackson as one of the first black artists to have a music video on rotation. 

Radiohead’s animated music video Paranoid Android was released in 1997, and was also a noteworthy video on MTV. USA Today editor Barba Vandenburg, explained that the Paranoid Android video would only show in the early hours of the morning because it was an unconventional music video. 

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