Dire Straits, Dire bloody Straits. If there’s a list of records summing up what was wrong with the 80s then this one surely is near the top of it. And there’s many a candidate for most objectionable element.
The tune’s catchline, ‘Money for nothing and chicks for free’ is a good place to start. Then there’s the Geordie old boys reunion, Mark Knopfler and Sting. Think about a pair of overblown pretentious pop tarts and these two must feature prominently. But they are pop/rock stars, so what do you expect?
I think what really sticks in the craw is the song’s association with Live Aid – now this might be a personal association and a totally erroneous memory, but I’m sure that during the day this was on heavy rotation, as well as featuring in the running order. It entered the charts on 6th July – a week ahead of Live Aid. But its ascent of the UK singles chart was, by any metric, not meteoric (and yes, I know that meteors fall) – 65-47-39-15-8 and eventually on 10th August, number 4. In a slightly Monty Python-esque scenario (think church bells) I didn’t buy it until 19th August. There was no choice, it was all over the radio – it had gotten into my core, so I bought it. Damn you Sting! Damn you Mark Knopfler.
In the US, Money for Nothing went 3 spots better, making the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart. Money for Nothing was famously the first video played when MTV Europe launched on 1st August 1987.