I Want My MTV: ‘Money For Nothing’ by Dire Straits

We deconstruct one of the most remembered videos from the 1980´s and the MTV era: Money for Nothing by The Dire Straits.

Although because of a word used in the lyrics the song may be controversial in today´s “politically correct” language, and it was banned from Canadian radio stations for a while (the ban ended on August 31rst, 2011 leaving it to each radio station discretion whether to play it or not, no one can deny this song´s classic video status. It managed to transcend its time and will forever be remembered.

Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

The video won Best Video at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. (Back when it was actually about videos). It was one of the first videos to use computer animation, specifically computer animated characters.

Money for Nothing

The song was co-written by Mark Knopfler and Sting (that´s him at the beginning singing “I want my MTV”, the line being his sole contribution). Apparently Knopfler overheard delivery men in New York complaining about their jobs, and many of the lyrics were things the guys actually said. Initially he was not thrilled about the idea of the video but MTV and Director Steve Barron flew to Budapest to convince him of his concept. Good job Knopfler listen to his American girlfriend who liked the pitch by the director of

– A – ha´s “Take on Me” (Another Classic Video we know and have previously discussed writing about)

– Michael Jackson´s “Billie Jean

– Thomas Dolby´s “She Blinded me with Science”

and the movies

– Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Coneheads. Oh! I love Coneheads!!!!

If I were ever going to make a music video this is the guy I would hire. No questions about it!

It was the first video on MTV Europe. MTV loved the publicity and of course it became the slogan for its famous commercial:

I Want My Mtv

In the US, the song was Number one for three weeks. It also won a Grammy in 1986 for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

Dire Straits were one of the most commercially successful British bands ever with more than 120 million records sold. Songs like “Sultans of Swing”, “Walk of Life”, “So Far Away” and “Romeo and Juliet” are recognized many places around the world, but there are those songs and their guitar playing but only one video like that one…with videos like that “money for nothing and chicks for free” is questionable, it may seem like they are just breezing trough, but not many other bands achieved this level of recognition with a video.

 

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