Ah, the days before MTV where the only way you can see your favorite songs being sung on television was on variety shows like Ed Sullivan, Mike Douglas or music shows like American Bandstand and Soul Train.
Now this was fine and dandy if you were a band or music group performing your hit single on these shows, but what if were a song writer/producer messing around in the studio, An ad man capitalizing on a commercial trend, or a radio DJ cashing in on a dance trend?
If you're Van McCoy you show up with a piano and some of your background singers and let the dancers provide the movement because your hit song is "The Hustle" about a dance that was popular in 1975. A viewer might not worry about the lack of instruments.
If you are C.W. McCall, you bring some props in, because you are an award winning adman and your hit song (?) is "Convoy" A song featuring simulated CB radio dialogue, a chorus of female singers, and an early example of white rap. When C.W. appeared on "The Mike Douglas Show"
he had to deal with the fact he had to reproduce the song himself while lip syncing. He brought a CB radio to do the CB dialogue, used the microphone to do his rap which is fine until it came to the chorus and he's singing along with the piped in female voices.
So, you are a DJ in Memphis in 1976, and you want to cash in on the disco trend but you fancy yourself a funny man. so you write a novelty song that unexpectedly becomes a monster hit. You are Rick Dees and your hit is "Disco Duck" So now you're travelling around the world appearing on TV shows. What to do when the song has the vocal stylings similar to the most famous of all ducks, Donald? You bring along a puppet, an ugly puppet at that. Even though Rick Dees was a fashion victim of the times, but I guarantee it got him laid a lot.
Now, what would be the solution to visually presenting your hit song without appearing in it?
Let MTV and the Alan Parsons Project show you the way.