Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published August 6th 2022
Music or television; why not both?
In the past 10 years, my television watching has diminished markedly. I do not have any subscription or Pay-TV services; the only things I watch on TV are sports and DVDs, the occasional news programme and some music shows, and if a documentary strikes my fancy. So, all up, I do not watch it often and would not miss it. I do not think about it much of the time. If there are good shows, my son records them and then I watch them with him. Doesn't happen that often.
However, when I told a friend this, he struggled to believe me. He said the TV was always on in his place. Well, in my house, there's always music.
And so why not look at the two together? Here's Songs about Television!
This was not a challenge to collate, and I came up with, in the end, 12 songs. The first 8 songs I came up with were simple, and then it only took a little bit of searching for the other 3 songs to make themselves known. 3? Yes; one of the songs had no YouTube or Vimeo or any other video connection. Then, when I finished the list, my son asked about another song with the word "video" in the title. He was right. So I added two more. Anyway, these are songs about many aspects of TV.
Standard rules apply – one song per artist, I need to like the song, "television" (or a variant… including "video") in the title. It is interesting to note that all of these songs are from the 1980s onwards.
Let's listen and watch songs about television!
'Video Killed The Radio Star' by The Buggles (1980)
Video, the pictures on a television screen, did indeed sort of kill the radio stars. Especially in the 1980s when M-TV in the USA took hold. Back then, the M meant "music", and many stars of the 70s could not compete with the pop stars of the 80s for whom appearance trumped artistry. The Buggles could see it coming… and made an awesome song about it.
'Sleeping With The Television On' by Billy Joel (1980)
I have done this so often! This album track from Glass Houses is a decent one, and one that I have not heard Joel perform on any of his live albums. Or when I saw him live. Of course, with so many other great tracks, some have to fall by the wayside…
'TV Dinners' by ZZ Top (1983)
From Eliminator, I described this song in my review of the album as feeling like a parody and being an odd track. I stand by that, but it is still not bad.
'Video!' by Jeff Lynne (1984)
From the film Electric Dreams, this is still my favourite song from the soundtrack, a bit of 80s pop-rock that should be more widely known.
'Television Man' by Talking Heads (1985)
From the wonderful Little Creatures album, with the band taking on more of a modern pop sheen in their work. I also have this as the B-side to a 12-inch single, which was my first exposure to the track, and I've had a soft spot for it ever since.
'The Sun Always Shines On TV' by a-ha (1985)
One of a-ha's two charting singles, and a song I preferred for a long time over its more popular sibling. The idea that everything on TV is wonderful and bright when the world isn't is one that has not gone away.
'Frank's 2000" TV' by 'Weird Al' Yankovic (1993)
Weird Al has a few songs about television, especially TV shows, but this one, from the Alapalooza album, done in the style of early R.E.M., is my favourite of the actual songs about the TV itself. And it still happens, with people getting bigger and higher definition television sets all the time.
'I Want To Be On TV' by Green Day (1995)
From when Green Day actually sounded like the punk music of my own youth, this is a standard cry of many young people, although nowadays it's more likely to want to be on YouTube.
'Television Lies' by Jebediah (2001)
Australian pop-punk now, railing against the rubbish on television. These are the sorts of songs I got into at the time because they were so much more like the punk rock from when I was younger, and I just enjoy a lot of that music.
'TV Land' by Superchick (2001)
I was given a copy of this band's Karaoke Superstars album by a friend who didn't like it, and have kept it ever since. This is a fun bit of pop that does not take itself too seriously.
'Throw Away Your Television' by Red Hot Chili Peppers (2002)
Funk, with a bass-line to die for, this is a great track from RHCP's By The Way album. Another rail against television, but that bass guitar! Wow!
'Watching Telly' by Stella Donnelly (2019)
And we finish with an Australian singer-songwriter and a little slice of life in a song. Donnelly's voice is smooth and easy to listen to and this track just makes it all feel so simple.
And there we are – a dozen songs about television in all its myriad forms. A few different musical styles here, even if the list does start in 1980, so I hope you found some you enjoyed amongst them.
Happy listening… and watching, if you have the TV on.