Video_Killed_the_Radio_Star_single_cover

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The intro is rich with sweet strings, a bass guitar with a thick chorus effect on it, and a reverbed piano.

The verse begins with just a piano and lead vocal but both are treated to sound unnatural. The lead vocal is processed with EQ to sound like a telephone. The piano has reverb pushing it back into the rear of the mix. When the female backing vocal comes in it is rich and clear, and doubled and spread wide in stereo. Sporadic hi hats sputter throughout.

After the first half of the verse the loudest kick drum in a pop song ever enters. Also at this point a flute-like synth line plays counterpoint in the right while strings stabs are on the left. The bridge ‘Oh-a oh, I met your children, Oh-a oh, What did you tell them?’ is joined by a funk bass guitar that fuses with the kick, and a hi hat pattern that plays the off beat.

When the chorus arrives the bass and drums switch to a straight four on the floor rhythm, as strings fill out the mix and the female vocals sing the title line.

The second verse features another female backing vocal ‘oh, ah-oh’ but this is so loaded with reverb it sits under the lead vocal.

The instrumental break features a keys/xylophone/synth line as the main focus, with synthetic hand claps as responses. This synth solo is followed by a return to the intro but this time played by synth strings instead of piano. This section is completed by the only appearance of electric guitar for the whole song, with a classic 80s searing lead break.

There is a break after the next chorus, with the vocal reverb trailing off. As the track returns, with piano, the female backing vocal ‘oh, ah-oh’ emerges from a fog of reverb to be a focal point for a moment. As the kick returns and then all in for the final chorus repeats.

The fade out is criminally short!

Such a unique production, not only for its time but even now it still sounds unlike anything else. No one would dare do a whole pop track with that effect on a lead vocal. Because the lead vocal is processed with EQ to sound like a telephone it makes the female ‘backing vocals’ sound so much more present and up front than the actual lead vocal.