In what promises to be one of our most random playlists (yes, even surpassing the dirty secrets one), the AP editorial team is reflecting this week on the first music videos we ever saw. Some of our picks are older than us and downright ridiculous when you revisit them in a modern context—and that’s the beauty and hilarity of it all.
What was the first music video you ever saw?
DEF LEPPARD - "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
The year was 1988. I was 6, and my parents were out for the night. The babysitter they hired seemed less interested in watching me and my siblings and more interested in watching a TV channel that played nothing but music videos called MTV. At that age, my knowledge of TV barely went beyond Sesame Street and Nickelodeon, so watching MTV was an affront to nearly all of my senses—and I loved it. The first video I can actually recall absorbing that evening was this performance clip for Def Leppard's mammoth single "Pour Some Sugar On Me." I remember marveling at the size of the crowd, the huge stage, the headset mics and the one-armed drummer. I didn't know what was cool when I was that young; I just knew this five-minute clip made me feel something I'd never felt before—and it undoubtedly kickstarted my musical journey. —Scott Heisel
TONI BASIL - “Mickey”
When I was a child, I had rabbit-ear television, so music videos weren’t something I saw regularly. It was more like a medley of Unsolved Mysteries, soap operas and the local news. The first time I recall watching MTV, however, I was 4 years old and visiting a family friend’s house. With red Avon sample lipstick I regularly stole from their bathroom tucked away in the pockets of the jumper I was probably wearing, I watched amazed by this wacky lady and her cheerleading crew shouting at me as the family’s then-teen daughter braided my hair. The energy made me feel hyperactive. I wondered if the girl braiding my hair was a cheerleader too (as a child, I thought all teenage girls were really bratty cheerleaders) and why Mickey Mouse wasn’t in this video when the song was clearly all about him. I believe it riled me up so much that I ended up jumping on the bed and getting in trouble. Oops. —Cassie Whitt
PAT BENETAR - “Love Is A Battlefield”
Holy shit! Pat Benetar is a total boss, and I’d forgotten just how much until this playlist forced me to remember the old VHS filled with recorded-from-TV music videos my mom used to hoard when I was a kid. Shout out to my mom for exposing me to fierce, rebellious, independent female role models by playing me this one when I was little. —Cassie Whitt
GENESIS - “Land Of Confusion”
Every kid loves cartoons, so it makes sense that Genesis' “Land Of Confusion” music video was one of my first favorites. My accountant father was a workaholic and often stuck me in this TV room at his office after hours. The TV itself had about three channels that actually worked, and lucky for me one of them played music videos like this and Missy Elliott's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)," which is why I only wear garbage bags as clothing (but that's another story). Too young to understand its political implications, I adored “Land Of Confusion” for its surface value, a freaky claymation mash-up of grotesque presidents, pop culture figures, animals and of course, the band rocking out to remind you what you're even watching. —Brian Kraus
GREEN DAY - “American Idiot”
I can confidently say that Green Day were the vessel for my first music-meets-video experience, with their explosive 2004 single, “American Idiot.” My 10-year old self was enthralled by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s seemingly imperturbable punk-rock persona and rebellious overtone—not to mention his physical appearance in the video influenced my apparel choices for many years following. Nevertheless, it was watching the band in this video (and the scenes of them rocking out in that weird green substance—seriously though, what is that stuff?) that aided in kickstarting my travels in music, the same one I’m on today. —Tyler Sharp
HANSON - "Mmmbop"
Somewhere out there is a time capsule of the ’90s, and in it are all seven seasons of Boy Meets World, three tubes of Lip Smacker chapstick, a dozen mismatched butterfly clips and the original video of "Mmmbop." I'm not sure if "Mmmbop" is the first music video I saw, but it's definitely the first one I remember. As cringe-worthy as the video is today (the clothing, the Rollerblades, the giant, yellow flower background, Zac Hanson's braids), I thought it was the greatest thing ever in the history of music when it debuted in April 1997. I didn't know how to surf or skate, and my brother and I never got along as well as the Hanson siblings, but the video for "Mmmbop" made me want to strap on a pair of Rollerblades and call a truce with my brother. My love for the video—and really, Hanson in general—probably had to do with my major crush on Taylor Hanson. I was 8 years old, and I thought Taylor was the bees knees, what with his falsetto vocals and charming smile. It's been 17 years since "Mmmbop" was released, and although I donated my copy of Middle Of Nowhere to Goodwill many years ago, I've still got a soft spot for this video—and for Taylor Hanson, who is still pretty cute. —Brittany Moseley
NSYNC - “I Want You Back”
When I was 6 years old there was a battle on the school grounds just as—if not more–intense than the bickering going on between Republicans and Democrats today. The battle was between NSYNC and Backstreet Boys (more commonly known as N Stink or Backstreet Girls, depending on what side of the playground you rolled with). NSYNC, however, were and always have been the clear winners in this war, and I knew that from the moment my little eyes saw their music video for “I Want You Back.” From the cool dudes wearing what appeared to be wetsuits with baggy pants to their synchronized dance moves on a space ship, it just really doesn’t get better to that. I am not ashamed to say I was a huge NSYNC fan for quite a few years after seeing that video. Funny how I still know every word when I go back and watch it. Though, I must admit, it does look a little dated and ridiculous now. Hello, mini-JT! —Nick Major
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS - "Don't Come Around Here No More"
Although Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More" was almost certainly not the first music video I ever watched, it's the only one I can vividly recall having seen at a young age. One viewing and you'll understand why. Underneath that layer of '80s cheese lies one of the most bizarre, surreal, and borderline disturbing videos of the decade, all wrapped up in an Alice In Wonderland-inspired theme. The visuals were enough to draw in and entertain my young mind, but the creepy undertones are what make it stand out so many years later. —Philip Obenschain
STEPPENWOLF - "Magic Carpet Ride"
I first saw this promotional film clip on a 1969 installment of the TV talkshow The Mike Douglas Show, where the perpetually cheery, titular host would feature famous actors, actresses and comedians alongside assorted underground weirdos (John Lennon and Yoko Ono guest hosted for a week, and KISS made their second TV appearance on Douglas' show). Steppenwolf certainly filled the maximum daily countercultural requirement, offering feedback freakouts, pop sensibilities and some badass sartorial flair. I think it was the psychedelic, solarized sine waves in the intro that blew my pre-’tween mind all my years ago, along with the Leslie-speaker feedback. To this day, I wonder if the studio audience crowd was comprised of Midwest whitebread aunts and uncles doing the head nod with bikers. —Jason Pettigrew
TEMPLE OF THE DOG - “Hunger Strike”
The first video I saw starts with a lighthouse—a lighthouse that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the video. (It does ominously shine in the background two or three more times, though. Maybe the lighthouse is the key to the entire video. Maybe it’s an evil lighthouse.) The video is full of a bunch of skinny, ratty-looking dudes, who I assume would’ve been considered “pretty” in the early ’90s. Chris Cornell has bad facial hair and plays his electric guitar alone on a beach. Eddie Vedder is there, too. He’s just, like, standing in a field somewhere, which kind of makes sense, because the song is called “Hunger Strike” (“I don’t mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadents”), and you, like, grow grain in a field or something. A couple of the band members are wearing cool ’90s-guy hats. They all eventually meet up in a circle and realize someone forgot the hacky sack, so they have a bonfire instead. —Matt Crane