Listen to Episode 13 of Slate’s Hit Parade:
Even before the launch of MTV, the music video has been making pop songs buzzworthy. And since the early ’80s, it has transformed also-rans into hit-makers—from the Buggles and Duran Duran to Peter Gabriel and A‑ha. But until the early 2010s, watching a video didn’t count on the Billboard charts. That all changed thanks to YouTube—and the biggest immediate beneficiary from the addition of video to the charts was a rising pop star, incubated on the Disney Channel but looking to change her image. Miley Cyrus was born into hit-making, line-dancing, multimedia royalty, and she used video titillation—and even the social site Chatroulette—to top the charts. But what did all that provocation mean for … y’know, the music? And how is the music video still making hits—including the song that’s No. 1 this very week in 2018?