The redoubtable Mark Lerner sends along the following link to the first twenty-four hours in the history of MTV: Music Television, from August 1, 1981. I doubt you want to watch the whole thing, but the winsome Martha Quinn is still worth checking out.
To make things easier for you, here is a list of the songs played that day on MTV. The playlist is better than I remember - the Pretenders and "Oliver's Army" are always worth hearing - but also more repetitive. If you were watching MTV that day, I hope you liked Rod Stewart and REO Speedwagon:
The Buggles: "Video Killed the Radio Star"
Pat Benatar: "You Better Run"
Rod Stewart: "She Won't Dance"
The Who: "You Better You Bet"
Phd: "Little Susie's on the Up" I have no idea who or what this is.
Cliff Richard: "We Don't Talk Anymore" This video, from 1979, is basically someone using every digital effect on their brand new videotape editing machine. Gerry Todd would have loved it.
The Pretenders: "Brass in Pocket"
Todd Rundgren: "Time Heals"
REO Speedwagon: "Take It on the Run" If you're going to play a bunch of REO, this is the one to kick it off with. I always liked it much better than "Keep on Loving You."
Styx: "Rockin' the Paradise"
Robin Lane & The Chartbusters: "When Things Go Wrong"
Split Enz: "History Never Repeats"
.38 Special: "Hold On Loosely"
April Wine: "Just Between You and Me"
Rod Stewart: "Sailing" Was this the Christopher Cross song?
Iron Maiden: "Iron Maiden"
REO Speedwagon: "Keep On Loving You" "I don't want to sleep/I just want to keep": Genius!
The Pretenders: "Message of Love"
Lee Ritenour: Mr. Briefcase"
The Cars: Double Life"
Phil Collins: "In the Air Tonight"
Robert Palmer: "Looking for Clues"
The Shoes: "Too Late" The Shoes were a pretty great power-pop band from Zion, Illinois, sort of the missing link between Cheap Trick and Enuff Z'Nuff.
Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
Rupert Hines: "Surface Tension"
Madness: "One Step Beyond"
Gerry Rafferty: "Baker Street"
Pat Benatar: "I'm Gonna Follow You"
Tom Johnson: "Savannah Nights
Rockestra: "Lucille" This was a one-off formed for some charity thing, with Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, bunch of other guys. Useless.
Styx: "The Best of Times"
Carly Simon: "Vengeance"
Iron Maiden: "Wrathchild"
Blotto: "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard"
Rod Stewart: "Passion"
Elvis Costello: "Oliver's Army"
REO Speedwagon: "Don't Let Him Go"
The Silencers: "Remote Control/I'm Too Legal"
Juice Newton: "Angel of the Morning"
Rockestra: "Little Sister"
Bootcamp: "Hold On to the Night"
Cliff Richard: "Dreaming"
Lee Ritenour: "Is It You?"
Fleetwood Mac: "Tusk"
Michael Stanley Band: "He Can't Love You"
REO Speedwagon: "Tough Guys" The fourth REO song of the day.
The Who: "Don't Let Go the Coat"
Rod Stewart: "Ain't Love a Bitch"
The Pretenders: "Talk of the Town"
Rainbow: "Can't Happen Here"
Andrew Gold: "Thank You for Being a Friend" The Golden Girls would debut in September of 1985.
Gerry Rafferty: "Bring It All Home"
April Wine: "Sign of the Gypsy Queen"
Kate Bush: "The Man With the Child in His Eyes" So even if they weren't playing Michael Jackson at this point, they were playing songs about Michael Jackson.
David Bowie: "Ashes to Ashes"
April Wine: "Just Between You and Me" Yes, that's the second time in the first 24 hours that viewers were treated to "Just Between You and Me."
The Specials: "Rat Race"
Talking Heads: "Once in a Lifetime"
Rod Stewart: "Tonight's the Night"
Nick Lowe: "Cruel to Be Kind" I do my best to understand it.