By Deane Barker

Definition: a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph

Why I Looked It Up

The King of Content, a history of Viacom, stated:

MTV launched on August 1, 1981 with the Buggles’ paean to disruptive innovation, Video Killed the Radio Star.

In this sense, “paean” probably meant MTV’s usage of the song, rather than the original intention of the Buggles.

The Wikipedia page for the song indicates that it was more mournful than joyous:

The theme of “Video Killed the Radio Star” is thus nostalgia, with the lyrics referring to a period of technological change in the 1960s, the desire to remember the past and the disappointment that children of the current generation would not appreciate the past.

Some of the lyrics:

They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine on new technology
And now I understand the problems you can see
We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far
Pictures came and broke your heart

This is not a paean, clearly, unless, I suppose, you’re an upstart video channel trying to disrupt radio.


Added on July 9, 2023

From a discussion of Shirley Temple in Spark: How Genius Ignites, From Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers:

Her 1988 autobiography was a paean to her mother.

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