Is It Still Any Good: The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”

“Is It Still Any Good?” is an on-going feature dedicated to examining pop-culture artifacts in order to determine if they still have any sort of relevance in the present day.

“Video Killed the Radio Star”

So, let’s get down to brass tax right away on this one.  Is this song still any good?  YES, for oh so many reasons.

First of all, for any trivia fans out there, it was the first song ever played on the now Jersey-Shore-obsessed-but-once-cool MTV. It reminds me of a better time, when videos were actually played on TV and people actually sat through and watched them.  I still remember the beginning of the end, when I was watching an episode of the now-defunct “Total Request Live” (TRL, in my day) and even though they were going through the top 10 MOST POPULAR videos in an hour, Carson Daly needed too much time to talk to Britney Spears about her new movie, “Crossroads” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275022/, yeah that happened), to actually play these videos.  The show decided ten second clips of the songs were enough.  Sure, most of these songs were about hot women in tight clothing chilling on a yacht with a rapper talking about how he is going to have sex with the aforementioned hot women in tight clothing (perhaps on a yacht, perhaps not).  But dagnabbit, I wanted to see how the story unfolds!  Anyway, I digress.

Second reason “Video Killed the Radio Star” rules is that it actually PREDICTED THE FUTURE!  Take a gander at these lyrics:

“Video killed the radio star. 
Video killed the radio star. 
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far.”

Now, do you know why we can’t rewind?  It’s because we’ve gone too far.  These days we can watch any music videos anywhere in the world at any time.  But you already know that.  And how did the video kill the radio star?  You know that old, sort of ugly aunt you have that can actually sing and play piano (if you don’t, pretend you do).  Yeah, she’s never getting a record deal.  Now, you know that hot Latino girl who can’t sing but knows how to move, apparently.  That’s Jennifer Lopez (aka J-Lo, aka Jenny from the Block).  She has a record deal.  Case closed.  If we had only listened to the Buggles, we’d actually have more quality people playing music and making money like they did back in my day.*

Third reason the song kicks the llama’s ass…because it just does.  Has there ever been a more 80s, 80s song.  It’s got the catchy piano.  It’s got the funky lead singer. It’s got the “oh-ah-ohs”.  I’m convinced this song and Chuck Norris created the 80s.  The funny thing about that is the song was actually written in the 70s.

Fourth and final reason this song is awesome: it got a random Japanese kid to make a cover of it.    Oh and I forgot to mention, the cover is amazing.  Man, if/when I have a kid, I am definitely going to force him/her to play guitar night in and night out without rest for years on end on the off chance that he/she will become like this kid.  He/she will hate me for the rest of his/her life.  But it’ll be worth it.  Can’t wait.

So to sum up, the song is good.  We’ve established the song predicted the future AND created the 80s AND was a part of the only great period of MTV, the period that actually played music videos.  That was when life was good, men were men, and videos were videos. **

*=At this time, you should imagine an old man with a shotgun in his rocking chair on a porch saying this entire spiel.  He would then look at you and say “Get off my porch, sonny!”

**=Imagine the old man again.  Did you immediately get a picture of Clint Eastwood in your head?  He’s becoming THAT guy, right?

Advertisements

Is It Still Any Good: Bush “Swallowed”

“Is It Still Any Good?” is an on-going feature dedicated to examining pop-culture artifacts in order to determine if they still have any sort of relevance in the present day.

“Swallowed”

Remember Bush? Apologies for stirring up bad memories, but I was up late last night trudging through YouTube in a nostalgic and masochistic mood and I stumbled upon a few of their old videos so now you will have to feel my pain. Accept it. The year was 1996, and Bush was already lame. Their first album made me hate Nirvana as much as Nirvana made me like Nirvana. Now two years removed from their first abortion, Bush–for reasons unknown–decided to release a sophomore effort even more esoteric and alien than its predecessor.

I suppose if you’re going to rip-off a hugely-successful band, you may as well go all out. It’s remarkable how similar “Swallowed”–the lead single from Razorblade Suitcase (Jesus, seriously?)–sounds like the genre-defining “Heart-Shaped Box” from In Utero except that “Swallowed” eschews drums entirely during the verses in order to one-up Nirvana’s formula by way of some retarded pop-song derivative calculus.

The lyrics are really the high point here. Gavin Russdale Rashdale Rushdie, bless his heart, never quite grasped the concept of surrealism, and as a result listeners are forced to decipher lyrics that literally make no sense whatsoever (remember “Glycerine”?). Reading Gavin Rushdie’s lyrics gives me the impression that listening to him speak would be like listening to a martian approximate what it thinks English sounds like.

So, is it still any good?

It’s a question without an answer. It wasn’t good to start with.