Video Killed The Radio Star is internationally one of the most instantly recognisable songs of all time. Written by Bruce Woolley, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, the original Buggles music video is famous for being the first ever shown on MTV when it launched in 1981. The words “Video” and “Radio” are similar in multiple languages. This, plus the record’s distinctive, ground-breaking production helped propel the track to top sixteen international music charts, including the UK, Australia, Austria, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as the Japanese Oricon International Chart.
Now Bruce Woolley and The Radio Science Orchestra have re-recorded the song featuring British singer/songwriter Polly Scattergood (Polly Scattergood, Arrows and On Dead Waves – Mute Records). Co-produced by Keypad, mixed by Cameron Craig and mastered by Mandy Parnell, this darker, more reflective version of the genre-shaping synth-pop classic is a very new direction for the tune, and yet from the first listen, it feels hauntingly familiar.
Bruce says: “Polly is often described as ethereal, dark, intense and experimental, while her musical style has been described as “early 21st century electro-dance-pop of London proper”. We simply couldn’t think of anyone better to breathe fresh life into this classic song.”
Polly says: “I remember listening to Video Killed The Radio Star as a teenager. It was always playing in my school canteen and it was one of those iconic tracks everyone instantly knew and loved, so when Bruce asked me to collaborate with him and the Radio Science Orchestra on this re-working of it, I was naturally very excited. We both share a love of synths, so enjoyed spending time together in the studio experimenting with building a new soundscape for the track, layer by layer. It began to take shape quite organically much like the video. None of us really knew where any of it was going until it was finished – it was a lot of fun”.
The single is released today on Gramophone Records and is available for streaming and download on iTunes and Spotify. XS Noize has the pleasure of presenting the accompanying video to the song which features cameo appearances from synth pioneer Thomas Dolby and The Retronaut’s Wolfgang Wild, as well as typography/design by Paul Sizer and animations by renowned Video Artist Louise Bellairs (The Art of Scared Geometry) A remix by Steve Dub (The Chemical Brothers’ engineer in residence) is also currently in the works and the release will follow in March.
The “re-imagining” of this song is a real delight, and an interesting one when you consider that “Video’s” original theme was concerned with the worrying effects the promotion of technology might have on radio. How fitting it is then, that the same song is presented 36 years later, sounding current with its synth sound but enhanced with atmospheric layers of string and piano from the Radio Science Orchestra. In addition, Polly’s vocal lends a celestial, unearthly quality to the song which matches the video perfectly. Lovely stuff.