MTV’s best days are in the past Stephen Pitalo, music video historian and writer of the blog THE GOLDEN AGE OF MUSIC VIDEO, says the best days of MTV are, unfortunately, behind us.

“The early days of MTV gave the pop music world such a big tent for talent,” Pitalo said, reflecting on the 30th anniversary of MTV’s launch in August. “When acts as diverse as Twisted Sister, Michael Jackson, Wham and the Stray Cats were on the radio, it was due to their exposure on MTV. That diversity of music styles just doesn’t exist today on the pop charts.”

“The early clips were all pretty low budget,” said Pitalo, who has interviewed prominent directors Steve Barron, Julien Temple and Marty Callner, as well as lesser known directors who saw their clips experience mass exposure. “In the seventies, music labels in London were producing what they called ‘international clips,’ which they’d send out to television stations across Europe in place of a band appearance. These early music videos were mostly performance, but directors began to expand the scope of them using their own creativity. The first video played on MTV was the Buggles – a British band, and that proliferation of British bands on the U.S. charts in the early eighties – the ‘New British Invasion’ if you will – was because the London music scene was way ahead of the U.S. in producing good music videos.”

Pitalo also noted that several prominent filmmakers got their start in music video, from Lasse Hallstrom to Michael Bay to David Fincher. “It’s funny to think that Academy Award-nominee David Fincher got his start shooting videos for Rick Springfield and the Motels.”

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