MTV Music Video Awards: The Beginning of an Era

1984, known as the “best year in pop music”, was a year of prime success for the MTV network and the music industry. This was the year that the first MTV video music awards was held. The MTV video music awards (VMAS) is an annual ceremony that recognizes the past years best music videos. It was created due to the overwhelming popularity of music videos and a need for recognition for artist’s hard work and creative expression.

The first commemoration of this awards show was held on September 14, 1984 at the radio city music hall in beautiful New York City. The hosts were singer, song writer, and actress Bette Midler and actor and Saturday Night Life comedian Dan Aykrod. The duo was a smashing hit. Their humor complemented one another nicely and their sexual innuendos were a crowd pleaser.

The coveted VMA award is a silver astronaut on the moon holding a MTV flag. This is one of the earliest symbols of MTV. This award is presented to the winners of the various categories at the annual VMAS. Madonna is the current record holder for winning the most VMAs at an astounding 20 VMAS over the last 30 years. This award is a symbol of success for musicians across the country.There are several categories where artists can receive a moon man including the prestigious video of the year, best male video, and viewer’s choice.The most desired award of the night is the video of the year award. This award goes to the band or artist with the overall best video set up, concept, and performance. This winner is considered the “guest of honor” for the night. The first VMAS video of the year was awarded to the cars for their video “You Might Think”. This video triumphed over hits like Thriller by Michael Jackson and every breath you take by The Police.

This video was one of the first music videos to make use of computer graphics and special effects. Take a look at the video and see for yourself if you think it was worthy of this award.

YouTube Preview Image

The man of the night was Herbie Hancock. He is a well-known Jazz and pianist artist who clinched 5 VMAS on this night including: best concept and best art-direction for his song “Rockit”. The best female video award went to Cyndi Lauper for her song “Girls just want to have fun”.

Adolescent girls could personally relate to many of the scenes in the music video from her misunderstanding parents to popular dress style. Her music video was and still is an adolescent girl anthem.

YouTube Preview Image
 This inaugural show boasted a number of notable performances. One of the most memorable performances of the night was “Like a Virgin” by the pop icon, Madonna. She was dressed in a white, frilly wedding dress which is usually to symbolize purity, but in her case it was far from it. There was some unexpected shock value to her performance. As she was descending the stairs of the wedding cake platform to go down the stage her shoe slipped off and she used this as an opportunity to sexualize her act. She rolled around on stage while singing and exposed her risqué undergarments. She was wearing lacy stockings and garters for the whole crowd to see.YouTube Preview Image Many viewers and live spectators were appalled at her lewd performance and believed it would be the end of her short lived career. They could not have been more wrong as it only sparked the fuel in her fire.

The VMAS are extremely popular among the younger generations as these shows are, shocking, provocative, and unpredictable. Music was a means of youth rebellion and music videos enhanced this creative form of expression through an auditory and visual experience. It only make sense that MTV honor artists not only for their song but for their music videos as well.

The VMAS will be 31 years old this year and its fame and popularity is still rising. The show brings in millions of viewers annually. The awards show is primarily watched by adolescents and younger viewers as it is represents music enjoyed by the youth culture of our society. The VMAS are and will continue to an event that the youth value greatly.

Heather Tondreau
April 13, 2015
Work Cited:

Andy Edelstein, “MTV VMAs first show in 1984: A lookback,” Newsday, August 23, 2012, accessed April 3, 2015,

Associated Press, “Jackson Wins Two MTV Awards,” The Hartford Courant, September 15, 1984.

MTV, “MTV Video Music Awards: 1984”,, accessed April 7, 2015,

MTV Press, “Video Music Awards”,, accessed April 7, 2015,