Video might have killed the radio star, but it helped bring out the phenomenon that was MTV’s Total Request Live. In 1998, TRL was born with host Carson Daly counting down the day’s top-10 music videos.
TRL quickly became synonymous with cool. If you wanted to make it in the music industry, you were forced to create a sexy, funny or creative video to capture the hearts and perverted thoughts of the youthful audience. Stars like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Eminem, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, 98 Degrees, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Jennifer Lopez and Blink 182 can all thank TRL for providing a boost in their careers.
Were these the best musicians of their time? That’s debatable. Nonetheless, I would rush home every day and throw my JanSport backpack to the ground and hope to get in front of a TV before Britney came out in that skimpy catholic school girl outfit.
Before Daly moved on and became a network TV star, he was stuck hosting a live show with screaming boy-band groupies in his ear on a daily basis. While he might’ve had a few extra years on him, Daly was going through a teenage identity crisis of his own along with the rest of us. Daly rocked the patent 90s flip haircut, glasses on occasion, an earring, randomly painted fingernails with all black outfits (especially for Marilyn Manson), bowling collared shirts, ironic employee jackets, skateboarder-esque graphic t-shirts, sweaters for the hip hop artists and jeans with a chain attached to his wallet if Fred Durst were scheduled to appear. Have No Fear, it was just a phase.
When it comes to sex appeal, it didn’t get much better than what pop goddesses Britney, Christina and J-Lo brought to the table. “Oops, I Did It Again” was actually something I said to myself quite often during a Britney music video. I still have flashbacks of Christina asking me to rub her the right way and the answer is yes, J-Lo if I had all your love and you gave me all your trust I would indeed comfort you.
Tears never flowed harder than when ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys or 98 Degrees were in the TRL studio. I can guarantee you there are plenty of girls who said bye, bye, bye to their virginity after Justin Timberlake swept them off their feet. I want it that way was something girls could be heard saying backstage and the hardest thing that I ever had to do was lie to my friends and tell them I didn’t think Nick Lachey had the voice of an angel.
There was nothing small about Blink 182 and the success they achieved with their comedic videos. Foo Fighters would throw a monkey wrench into the countdown with a spoof video of their own. Let’s not forget about MTV’s own 2GE+HER; U + Me = US watching TRL in my parent’s basement together. Bloodhound Gang busted on the scene and may have taught a viewer or two about the birds and the bees with Bad Touch and even a history lesson in evolution with those monkey costumes.
Please stand up if you remember that Eminem is the real Slim Shady. Yell it loud and proud if your name is Kid. If you want some nookie, keep that red ball cap turned backward. I never felt so Alive as I did when P.O.D. came on and I’m still not sure where that bullet from Freak on a Leash wound up.
The beauty of the show was its live aspect. It was completely unpredictable in what could happen on the show at any given moment. Sure, we knew the latest ‘N Sync release would sit atop the countdown, but there was no telling what direction a Missy Elliot freestyle would go in, who would show up drunk/stoned, what fans would say to VJ Jesse Camp (shockingly still alive) out on the street or if Hanson would serve as guest host for a day.
Just as I’ve chosen to forget what my closet looked like in 2003, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of TRL post-Carson Daly. It went out of style faster than The Verve as I look back upon the show’s history as a Bitter Sweet Symphony of its own.
P.S. There is nothing I need to be leaked more than the pictures from the TRL photo booth. I’m looking at you, Russia. .
Image via YouTube