1980s Music History

Like many other decades, the 1980s was a decade where music was a way to chronicle the times and events of the era. In some ways, the musical genres during the 1980s redefined the way many bands and artists made new music and it still continues to influence music today.

On August 1st, 1981 a new era of music launched with MTV playing their first ever music video (ironically titled but the very true, 'Video Killed The Radio Star' by the Buggles). This simple act changed the face of popular music for ever.

The pressures on artists were now not only to have a great sounding song, and to look good for the cameras, now they had to produce great videos too, and smile happily all the way though as they were doing it.


MTV, or Music Television, may have been the single most influential entity in music industry during the 1980s . Premiering in 1981, MTV gave bands and artists greater exposure for their music in a greater and more widely popular medium.

The first video ever played on MTV was aptly titled "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. Duran Duran is one of the more popular 80s bands that enjoyed the exposure that MTV gave them, too. Many experts have said that MTV is what made Duran Duran one of the most popular bands to come out of the 1980s era.


Bands that really made the most of video were acts like Duran Duran, Michael Jackson with his multi-million dollar epics (Thriller was over 14 minutes long!), and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, making the use of video more controversial and immediately increasing record sales.

The 1980s era also enjoyed a harder style of music. Good ol' Rock 'n Roll was a main staple of the 80s music. Popular rock bands like Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith pumped out the decibels to the enjoyment of thousands, if not millions, of fans. It was also an era of a genre deemed Glam Rock.

The next great revolution in music technology was billed as the wonderfully indestructible compact disc format. Originally introduced in 1982 by Philips and Sony, the new format offered crystal clear sound quality, while (according to the presenters on "Tomorrows World") being virtually un scratchable.

So, with music videos, portable music, CD's and MTV all happening during the 80's it was another big decade of development for the music industry.

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