One Hit Wonders – Video Killed the Radio Star

Great Britain, 1979, the punk wave has practically subsided, new wave and synth pop are the current fashions. However, with the first affordable electronic devices the music is going through radical transformations. At the forefront of all this – the Buggles, a British one-hit-wonder-project that with their catchy song “Video Killed The Radio Star” triggered the new age of music. It appeared on their debut album, “The Age of Plastic”.

In bright and colorful neon aesthetics and Mickey Mouse like vocals, “Video Killed The Radio Star” didn’t only predict the future of music, but likewise melancholically bemoans the 1950s. This summoning of the great days of radio sounds a bit naive, because even back then pop music has been recorded with casted Teen Stars – including thoughtfully tailored mass productions and clever marketing concepts. Anyway, the title was the most successful of the Buggles, reaching number one in over eight countries. Among them were Austria, Great Britain and Switzerland. In Germany Video Killed the Radio Star reached number 2 and number 40 on the in the U.S. Billboard Charts.  In the UK and in France the track could even reach platinum status.


That the Buggles themselves were only short-time Stars is one of those ironic stories of modern pop history. In the year 1980 Trevor Horn (vocals, bass guitar, guitar) and Geoff Downes (keyboards, synthesizers, electric piano) were recording their second album in a studio close to where the progressive rock band “Yes” were recording. At this time Yes was in a terrible disorder because Singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman had both just quit the band. Yes then decided to hire both (Horn and Downes) as their new full time band members, which was to be one of the most unusual lineup changes ever. In August 1981 the by then two years old video to “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the clip with which the U.S. music channel MTV began their broadcasting.


Yes broke up in 1981, and The Buggles resumed working on the heir second album they have not  finishing a couple of years ago. During the recording of the album the pair finally broke up, and the album, finished by Horn alone, sank like a rock when it was released. Geoff Downs and Steve Howe of Yes then cofounded the supergroup Asia in 1982 (Key Songs are “Heat of the Moment”, “Only Time Will Tell”), where Downs remains for 28 years. Trevor Horn has become one of the most successful record producers in history. He has produced the Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, Belle and Sebastian, Seal, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, ABC, and plenty of others. He also produced two Yes albums, after Yes reformed in 1983.

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