Buggles

Video Killed the Radio Star

Composed by Bruce Woolley / Geoffrey Downes / Trevor Horn

Song Review by

One of new wave's most charming singles, the Buggles' prescient 1979 hit "Video Killed the Radio Star" is also one of the most knowing and ironic: A pop song about pop itself, it celebrates the golden days of radio with shiny, futuristic synths and then-contemporary studio techniques. The irony was complete when the song's video became the first clip aired on MTV. Fortunately, "Video Killed the Radio Star"'s ironies -- intentional or otherwise -- work in the song's favor. With its broadcast-quality vocals and bouncy rhythm, the song plays like an extended jingle, delivering hooks and sonic flourishes at every turn, appropriately enough for the story of a singer made obsolete by TV. The breathy, girlish backup singers, twinkly synths, and other intricate layers in "Video Killed the Radio Star"'s arrangement and production also foreshadow Trevor Horn's evolution into a first-rate producer. Subsequent covers, most notably by the Presidents of the United States of America, removed the song's poignancy and focused on its novelty appeal. But just as the song looks back on the radio songs of the '50s and '60s, now "Video Killed the Radio Star" can be looked on as a perfectly preserved new wave gem. It still sounds as immediate as it did when it was released, however, and that may be the song's greatest irony.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Age of Plastic 1980 Culture Factory 4:11
No Image 1980
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
No Image 1986
Various Artists
Mercury
Island Story 1962-1987 1987
Various Artists
Island 3:20
Pop & Wave, Vol. 3 1993
Various Artists
Alex 3:10
Young at Heart, Vol. 1 [Sounds Direct Discs 1-2] 1993
Various Artists
Sounds Direct
Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Rhino
Video Killed the Radio Star [Import CD Single] 1995 Import 3:20
Radio City Classic Hits the 80's 1995
Various Artists
Polydor 3:21
Our Friends Electric [2 CDs] 1996
Various Artists
Telstar
Choose 80s 1997
Various Artists
Mercury
Fantastic 70's 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:20
Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
WEA International 3:14
80's New Wave: New Wave Dance 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / Rebound Records 3:22
Pure 80's 1999
Various Artists
Polygram / Universal Distribution 3:14
VH1: Pop Up 80's 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
One Hit Wonderful 1999
Various Artists
Polygram 3:25
Frosh, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Universal/Polygram 3:23
One Hit Classics of the 70's & 80's 2000
Various Artists
BMG International 3:31
Number One 70's 2000
Various Artists
PolyGram 3:21
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of the '80s 2000
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:28
80's [Medalist] 2000
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 3:27
I Want My 80's Box 2001
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:28
Ö3 Greatest Hits, Vol. 14 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:24
No Image 2002
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 3:28
Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:27
Best 80s Modern Rock Album 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:26
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:08
Gone but Not Forgotten [2004 Import} 2004
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 3:21
80's, Vol. 1 [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
20th Century Masters - DVD Collection: Alternative 80's 2004
Various Artists
Hip-O
Disco Fever Best 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Rewind: The Best In Music & Video [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:20
Simply the Best 70's Album 2004
Various Artists
WEA/Warner
Big Shiny 80's [Muchmusic] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:18
Produced by Trevor Horn 2005
Various Artists
ZTT 4:13
20 UK No. 1's from the 70s 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:19
New Waves: 45 Original 45's from the Post Punk Era 2005
Various Artists
Family Recordings 3:19
School Reunion: The Party 2005
Various Artists
Virgin 3:25
Toño Y La Mucgedumbre Esquinca 2005
Various Artists
ACR 4:15
Flashback to the 70's [Universal] 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Dance Til You Drop, Vol. 3 2006
Various Artists
Sony BMG
True 70s 2006
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:16
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Laserlight 3:28
Big 70's Party 2006
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin TV
Jim Beam: Pub Jukebox Classics 2007
Various Artists
Liberation
Gold: '80s British 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:14
Club 80s [Universal] 2007
Various Artists
UMVD 3:17
7 Inch Heroes 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:20
Music for Seventies 2007
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:26
Les 100 Plus Grands Tubes 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:24
80's: The Definitive Hits Collection [Digipack] 2008
Various Artists
Music Brokers 3:17
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Farol
The Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Seventies 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:25
Don't Quit Music: '80s Weight Loss Workout 2008
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:00
Sounds of the 70's Generation 2008
Various Artists
Destra 3:20
Island Life: 50 Years of Island Records 2009
Various Artists
Universal Portugal / Universal TV Campaign Division 3:18
Totally 80's for Kids 2009
Various Artists
Karussell / Universal 3:25
Out Come the Freaks! An Island Post Punk Anthology 2009
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Island Records 5:46
Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical [Music Inspired By] 2009
Various Artists
Universal International 3:25
Ashes to Ashes, Series 3 2010
Original Soundtrack
Sony CMG / Sony Music Entertainment 4:11
Take Me Home Tonight [Original Soundtrack] 2011
Original Soundtrack
Republic / Universal Republic 3:21
Greatest Ever! Eighties Hits: The Definitive Collection 2011
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:26
The Ultimate Collection: 80s Pop - 100 Hits 2011
Various Artists
Ultimate 3:25
Tubes Années 80 2011 Wagram 3:23
The Ultimate Collection: 80s School Days 2011
Various Artists
Universal 3:24
105 Friends '80: Gli Ottantoni Di Ross & Tony 2012
Various Artists
Time 4:13
The Playlist: 80s New Year's Party 2012
Various Artists
Universal TV Campaign Division 3:17
Greatest Ever! Electric Eighties 2013
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 3:25
RTL2 100 Tubes Années 80 2013
Various Artists
Wagram Records 3:23
Greatest Ever! Bubblegum Pop: The Definitive Collection 2013
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 3:25
Candy Candy: The Heyday of Bubblegum Pop 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:19
Greatest Ever!: Eighties: The Definitive Collection [2014] 2014
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 3:23
Greatest Ever! Electric 2014
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 3:24
Stars 80: La Compil' Officielle, Vol. 2 2015
Various Artists
TF1 Musique
Absolute Number One: 1975-1983
Various Artists
Eva 3:20
Best 1200 70's
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Body By Jake: 80s Weight Loss Workout (BPM 100-136)
Various Artists
Body By Jake 3:00
Chart Show: Die Erfolgreichsten: One-Hit-Wonder [Folge 1]
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:21
Countdown Pop!
Various Artists
ABC
Hits, Vols. 1-2: '60s, '70s, '80s
Various Artists
Mediterrano
I Am Happy
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal 4:12
Jackie: The 70's Annual
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 3:24
Just Can't Get Enough: Video Hits of the '80s
Various Artists
Rhino 3:26
Le 101 Canzoni Della Storia del Pop
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:18
Les  Annees New Wave
Various Artists
Polygram
No Image
Various Artists
UMSM 3:19
Rare & Brilliant: Hits + Gems
Various Artists
Universal Music Canada 3:26
No Image
Various Artists
Digital 3:21
No Image
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
Umc (Universal Catalogue) 4:12
The Best of 80's, Pt. 2
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:30
The Ultimate Collection: 70s Schooldays
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection 3:24
The Ultimate Collection: Number 1s
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:25
Throwback 1980's
Various Artists
Allegro / Somerset 4:13
Total Hits, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Universal 4:11
No Image Island / Universal 3:17
blue highlight denotes editor's pick