10 acts that owe their success to MTV
We're finally on the eve of the 25th birthday of MTV. So it's time for some of you millionaires out there in Musicland to hand-deliver a heartfelt letter of appreciation along with a nice gift of scented soaps, because without the invention of MTV, you'd still be singing at the lounge at the Days Inn in Wichita Springs (home of the coldest 8-ounce beers in town.)
10 acts that owe their success to MTV:
Men At Work: They came from a land down under, but without videos ("Who Can It Be Now," "Be Good Johnny" and "Down Under" all had heavy rotation), no one would have ever seen their true Aussieness (and the tricky eyeball of Colin Hay).
Def Leppard: They made Union Jack t-shirts cool (for a few weeks anyway) and later proved you could drum with only one arm. All thanks to videos, starting with "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages."
Frankie Goes To Hollywood: It's questionable whether anyone outside of England would have heard of the lads from Liverpool before MTV made their video for "Relax" famous -- by banning it.
Paula Abdul: Cheerleader and choreographer, Abdul achieved by herself. But singer, Mrs. Emilio Estevez and future American Idol judge? That's all MTV, baby. Because as videos for "Straight Up" and "Cold Hearted" proved, you don't have to sing well -- just so long as you can dance around like a half-naked stripper.
Twisted Sister: "You're all worthless and weak." Yeah, that's how the record biz felt about this New York City act until their comic videos for "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" -- featuring Animal House's "Neidermeyer" (Mark Metcalf) -- scored some album sales.
Weird Al Yankovic: Does anyone ask "Which of Weird Al's songs do you like best?" Nope, they ask "which video."
Stray Cats: It's cool to be old school. Even better when people can actually see it. This rockabilly act had to move from Long Island to England to get noticed. If they'd only waited a little while longer, MTV videos for "Stray Cat Strut" and "Rock This Town" would have worked better.
a-Ha: The Norwegian band went through multiple versions and ignored releases of "Take On Me" before the break-through animated video finally led to millions of sales. Also, a-Ha is the first band to receive a "Best Video" award.
Duran Duran: Plenty talented on their own, but who knew they were such babe magnets until the boys from Birmingham turned video-making into high art with "Rio" and "Hungry Like The Wolf." (Maybe MTV owes them a thank-you letter as well.)
Madonna: Ah, the Material Girl. Nobody would even be calling her that without the video for -- what was that song called? -- oh, yeah ... "Material Girl." If you once dressed like her, danced like her, dyed and wore your hair like her, and yes, if you're now BORED by her, you can thank MTV.
Other acts who should at least drop a card in the mail: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, U2, Prince, Peter Gabriel, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, Robert Palmer.
[Photo: AP; click to enlarge]