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5 MTV Videos From the ’80s Every Millennial Should Watch

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Fashion and hair trends may come and ago, but music will always be there to tell the stories worth remembering.

Though I used to roll my eyes at my parents’ music selections (okay, I probably still do sometimes), I feel lucky to have grown up surrounded by the sounds of the past. Today, I have a diverse taste in music and an appreciation for culture and entertainment of other decades, and I attribute much of that to the ‘80s and ‘90s music videos and songs I remember watching and hearing as a child.

MTV’s  launch in 1981 drastically changed the way people listened to and experienced music. Though today’s MTV conjures up images of reality shows such as Teen Mom and Catfish, the channel’s constant broadcasting of music videos in the ‘80s allowed teens and young adults to discover new sounds, and it provided a lens into the world of music, pop culture and even more serious societal issues and perspectives.

Here are 5 music videos from the ‘80s that every Millennial should watch – because it doesn’t have to be #ThrowbackThursday to take a trip down memory lane.

1. “Video Killed the Radio Star” – The Buggles

It is only appropriate to begin the list with the first music video broadcasted on MTV on August 1, 1981 – The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The song’s title and underlying message are symbolic of not only the beginning of MTV, but the rise of the digital age. (Added bonus: the lead singer is wearing a metallic silver suit, so that’s pretty groovy.)

2. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” video is known for its groundbreaking use of film techniques such as stop motion and claymation, which were practically unheard of before the music video launched in 1986. Aside from its impressive artistic and technical qualities, “Sledgehammer” sums up practically all ‘80s videos in that it is unapologetically weird. If you don’t believe me, watch it for yourself – it just takes one viewing to be slightly freaked out (and amazed at the same time).

3. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” – Billy Joel

Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” video depicts decades of historical events through the evolution of what begins as a typical family kitchen and ends as a bold representation of conflict and turmoil. The incredibly well-crafted, historically relevant lyrics make “We Didn’t Start the Fire” one of the most studied musical works of the ‘80s and perhaps of the 20th century.

4. “Take On Me” – a-ha

This video is a little sketchy, if you know what I mean. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) “Take On Me” is award-winning for a reason; known for its iconic storyline that transports an ordinary girl into an alternate comic book universe, this music video represents another impressive artistic feat, especially for the era. Plus, who can’t resist that catchy beat (and the semi-creepy close-ups of the band members)? 

5. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

Just as the title suggests, this video is just plain fun – especially for us collegiettes. Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is a quirky classic (featuring lots of great and not-so-great ‘80s clothing and makeup choices) that reminds us to love ourselves, love our friends and to not take life so seriously all the time.

I think the saying “everything old is new again” holds some truth. Though many music videos made in the early era of MTV may not be as technically impressive as the high-definition graphics we are used to seeing today, there is something to be said about songs and videos that connect people of all generations and all walks of life, no matter the decade in which they were made.

So, collegiettes, the next time you’re in the car and your Pandora or Spotify apps crash, embrace the sounds of good ol’ FM radio. You just might hear some of these ‘80s classics – and, who knows – maybe you, too, could be transported into another place or time.

Darcy Schild is a University of Florida junior majoring in journalism. She's the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus UFL and was previously a Her Campus national section editor. She spent Summer 2017 as an Editorial Intern at HC headquarters in Boston, where she oversaw the "How She Got There" section and wrote and edited feature articles and news blogs. She also helped create the weekly Her Campus Instagram Story series, Informed AF. Follow her on Twitter and on her blog, The Darcy Diaries.