Video Killed the Radio Star is a song by the British new wave group The Buggles, who released it as their debut single in September 1979, on Island Records. It celebrates the golden days of radio, describing a singer whose career is cut short by the invention of television. The song topped the music charts in several countries and not by me, but has been covered by many other recording artists. Coincidentally, it was the very first music video aired on MTV in the U.S. at 12:01am on 1 August 1981 when that music channel first went on the air. The song was number 40 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80’s. Hmmm, one hit wonder…sound familiar yet? Read on.
Music videos have been a great addition to the music industry. Sometimes it helps the audience understand exactly what was in song writer’s noggin when they wrote the song. A great deal of early singers who found fame and fortune on the radio were crowded out with the invention of TV. The early pioneers of the music industry sometimes created an image of what an artist would look like, and since people could hear them but not see them that worked for everyone until television came along. When TV came along, and some people sounded better than they looked, there went their careers.
When MTV came along in 1980’s it was novel and some singers and band’s images were made on MTV just because they made a video and had a certain cool look. As my manager Mr. Bricks tells me, back in the early days of MTV, not every song on the radio had a video. On a side note, Mr. Bricks was friends with Michael Jackson, (yes, that Michael Jackson) and Mr. Bricks was telling me just the other day about how Michael Jackson was describing to him the idea of what MTV was going to be all about, even before it debuted. Since there never had been anything like it at the time Mr. Bricks couldn’t get the concept through his thick noggin. He said Michael kept giggling at him for not understanding what MTV was all about. Apparently Mr. Bricks never did get his thick noggin fixed.
Eventually, after several years of MTV, the music video became less and less novel and soon became a necessity for a hit song. That brings us to the current dilemma where YouTube has created instant celebrities for the music industry and for this YouTube Generation (YTG). Take someone like 13 year-old Rebecca Black, who’s song Friday’s video went viral instantly on YouTube amassing a staggering 111 million views to date. Did Rebecca get the popularity she has because she is a talented singer ?
No, the entire reason Rebecca Black has 111 million views on YouTube is because the producer from the Ark Factory knew that Justin Bieber was making millions of dollars and his videos were described as some of the most “disliked videos on YouTube.” How bad are they? Well, if the fact that Justin’s very worst video, “Baby”, just surpassed 500 million YouTube views last month, then they must be pretty bad. That is where Rebecca Black fits in. Her producers from the Ark Factory wanted to be just as “bad” as Justin, so they cleverly marketed it as “The Worst Song Ever.” By leaking a statement like that to the media, assured instant attention from the YTG who loves watching any video of the worst of anything. The worst car crash, the worst basketball shot, the worst practical joke, etc. Then they make it go viral by emailing the link of that “worst video” to 500 of their closest friends. And when a Justin Bieber song or Rebecca Black’s song shows up on YouTube with a million views, the YTG thinks, ” it must be good because it has so many views” and then the rest is history as the cycle repeats itself. To date Justin Bieber has 2 of the top YouTube videos of all-time with more than a 1,541,295,560 views on his YouTube Vevo channel. (that’s 1.5 billion) But, simultaneously with that achievement, Bieber also holds the distinction of having 5 of the top 10 most “disliked” (we can’t say hate anymore) videos of all time on YouTube. To show the way YouTube has changed the musical landscape think of this: Michael Jackson only has 650,813,338 (that’s 650 million) YouTube views on his YouTube Viveo channel. Now, if anyone can honestly say that Justin Bieber is better or more talented than Michael Jackson then they need to have their melon examined because that’s just not right. With the way the music industry uses the YouTube yardstick to measure talent, that means in 2 months on the musical landscape Rebecca Black is 1/6 as popular as Michael Jackson and that Justin Bieber is a musical prodigy? This all makes my head bleed. Am I bitter, nope not at all, just sunburnt from the Florida sun.
The current record label executives grew up on MTV and they are currently not paying attention to anyone who has graduated from middle school or who knew life before Sham Wows. They forget that a hit song is a hit song, no matter what the age of the performer is. The issue is whether or not the musical gate keepers in their ivory towers have enough vision to sign and distribute an artist who doesn’t need a legal guardian to accompany them to the recording studio. Rebecca Black’s song Friday is a mere novelty song and although it has achieved tremendous YouTube play and iTunes downloads, it is not considered to be artistically appealing. Catchy yes, artistic, not so much.
Unfortunately, these record executives are missing some pretty incredibly talented singers (hello, my name is Ava Aston and I think I am a pretty incredibly talented singer, just sayin’) and it has turned many of us into indie artists. Take me for example, even though I have worked my butt off since the age of 5 developing the skills and talent that I now have, skills that a teenager like Rebecca Black doesn’t have, simply because I no longer wear braces and a padded bra, I am off-limits to the major labels. That’s just so wrong! The industry’s trend of signing super young singers makes Taylor Swift seem like a VH1 artist and a music industry veteran.
So, as most of you should know by now, next Thursday April 28th I am releasing the “Gone” music video, which is the title track on my “Gone” CD. I have given Mr. Bricks permission to go ahead and send out a press release proclaiming “Gone” as the worst song ever written and the absolute worst music video of all time. I even gave him permission to say things like, “Ava Aston’s “Gone” music video is so bad that if you watch it more than 3 times in a row your noggin will explode” or “If you thought Rebecca Black’s Friday was bad, wait until you see Ava Aston’s “Gone” or my all time favorite hyperbole is, “Free sneakers to the first 100 Million YouTube Views”
Now of course I don’t really believe that my song and video are worst of all time, I am actually very proud of them. And I don’t begrudge Justin Bieber or Rebecca Black at all, I am happy for their success. I am impressed with what they have achieved. If you want to see just how bad my “Gone” music video is, you will be able to see it on Thursday, Thursday, Thursday April 28, 2011. Set your iPhone reminders now!!!
Ok, this hot Florida sun is wreaking havoc on my noggin. I think I need #60 sun screen.