‘Video Killed The Radio Star’: Buggles Define The New Pop Age

From Spain to Sweden, Austria to Australia and Italy to Ireland, ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ was a defining song of 1979.

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Buggles artwork: UMG
Buggles artwork: UMG

From Spain to Sweden, Austria to Australia and Italy to Ireland, “Video Killed The Radio Star” was one of the biggest No.1s of 1979. On October 20, 1979, the Buggles single, which has come to define a pop era, moved to the top of the UK chart.

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Many people don’t realise that “Video Killed The Radio Star” was a cover, of a single earlier that year by its co-writer, Bruce Woolley, with his group the Camera Club. Woolley’s collaborators on “Radio Star,” Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, had just formed Buggles, and submitted the demo of their version to Island Records.

It became Buggles’ debut single, and not only was it a smash, but it came to represent the new synthetic pop sound of the day – and then lived up to its title by famously becoming the first video to be played on the new MTV in 1981. A word of recognition, too, for the seldom-credited female voice who was so important to the record, Linda Jardim.

From the plastic age

With the unfailingly eccentric nature of the British charts, “Radio Star” climbed to No.1 on October 20, replacing the Police’s “Message In A Bottle” and before Lena Martell’s gospel hit “One Day At A Time“ took its place. Buggles followed up with the album The Age of Plastic and had one more UK Top 20 single, “Living In The Plastic Age,” and one more that made the Top 40, “Clean Clean.”

Listen to the 80s Classic Hits playlist.

Within a year, Downes and Horn were incongruously heading for a spell with progressive rock mainstays Yes, before making a second Buggles album, Adventures In Modern Recording. Then Downes joined Asia and Horn became one of the world’s most in-demand producers, but they owed much to that quirky chart-topper of 1979.

Buy or stream “Video Killed The Radio Star” on The Age of Plastic.

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