10. The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star
To start off our list, we start with the video that started it all. The Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, with its ironic title, was the first ever video to be broadcast by MTV. Today, it’s still a fun watch and listen.
9. U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name
In its heyday MTV had the power to shoot an artist to superstardom. U2 were already well on their way to become the biggest band in the world. When they released their hit album The Joshua Tree 30 years ago, it was heavily promoted on the channel and these promos secured the band’s place at the top.
8. Aha – Take On Me
MTV was quick to capitalise on the hype surrounding the ‘synthpop movement’, the radiofriendly alternative to the new-wave/post-punk of the early 80s. MTV rotated this video by the Norwegian group heavily throughout the years and the song became a true classic in the genre.
7. Dire Straits – Money For Nothing
‘Money For Nothing’ is probably the only hit to reference MTV in its lyrics so obviously. This paired with the high-tech computer animated video resulted in a big hit. (an edit to make the song more friendly was necessary, though)
6 Blur- Coffee and TV
MTV played a crucial in the 1990s second wave of the ‘British Invasion’, when britpop become a hot genre all over the globe. Blur was one of the bigger names in the genre and got their fair share of rotation on the channel. Though ‘Coffee and TV’ is not their biggest song (that’s the woohoo one), it’s definitely the one with their best music video. Have you ever bonded with a carton of milk so much?
5. Björk – Human Behaviour
We can’t miss some female voices on our list. Though female artists were not as big on MTV as male artists, names like Madonna and Kate Bush got featured quite much in the 80s. Björk was one of the more interesting female artist to get featured in the 90s (unless you think Britney is more interesting). Her unique vocal qualities and idiosyncratic songs and videos got some well-deserved airplay.
4. Daft Punk – Around The World
MTV pretty much ended playing music video’s in the 2010’s, playing a bunch of EDM radio pop. The ‘EDM’ movement had been around for quite a while, though. Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’ was the biggest, huuugest electronic song on the channel. It got heavy play, partly because of Michel Gondry’s iconic music video. The song still sounds fresh and like a total party, as it turns 20 this year!
3. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
MTV made grunge. In the early ’90s, the heavy rotation of bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and most notably Nirvana, saw the underground grunge-movement turn to the mainstream. Kurt Cobain became an overnight superstar and a idol for teens everywhere, whether he liked it or not. Though MTV played alternative artists before, they never became as big as Nirvana and their peers.
2. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
‘Billie Jean’ broke the race barrier. Michael Jackson became the first major black artist to get played on MTV, and certainly to get played this much. The videoclip for ‘Billie Jean’ is perhaps not as controversial and defining as the one for ‘Thriller’, but this is the one that started a small revolution.
1 Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
Peter Gabriel’s fantastic stop-motion video for his 1986 hit ‘Sledgehammer’ is the most played video on MTV according to the good people over at MTV. It simply doesn’t get old, contrary, it gets more fun with every watch. The song is a great listen, too. Its fat beat and jivey basswork get our feet moving and stomping, much like a sledgehammer
In Known From you can find playlists with songs that you know from television shows, video games, movies or commercials. Songs you maybe didn’t even realize you knew, but the moment you hear them again, they immediately take you back. We put those songs together for you on YouTube and Spotify.
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