MTV's Total Request Live (TRL) seems so obvious now, but, at the time, it was revolutionary; MTV TRL episodes were the stuff of all-out teenage fantasy. A top 10 countdown that listeners could control? Unheard of! But TRL was more than just music; it was culture too. Total Request Live hosts were called "VJs" and were always clad in that week's latest fashion. Their job was talking to fans, interviewing celebrity guests, and introducing live, in-studio performances. But Total Request Live episodes were also known to get out of hand...
TRL started in 1998 and ran for almost a decade on MTV. It was basically responsible for launching the careers of some of the biggest pop stars of a generation, like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, The Backstreet Boys, and *NSYNC. Even Eminem had his turn hosting.
TRL wasn't all smiles and rainbows though, it was also there for the bad times, like the Marilyn Manson backlash after the Columbine shooting, the awkward Prince interview, and that crazy Mariah Carey ice cream thing...
When Robin Williams Stopped By
When Eminem Took Over
Not only did Eminem take over TRL and MTV for a day, he kind of took over the world for a little while there. At the peak of Shady-Mania, Em hosted an episode of Total Request Live and opened the show (dressed as Carson Daly) by saying: "Yesterday on TRL we saw Britney Spears, *NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and a bunch of other trash, but today is actually going to be a good show, as MTV becomes Em TV." He immediately cut off the "Whackstreet Boys" and aired his own personal playlist for the next two hours, and it was awesome.
Britney Spears Performed “Oops! I Did It Again”
In the year 2000, live performances were much more impressive than the press-play-and-dance shticks that have been popular lately. Britney did "Oops!..I Did It Again" live on TRL with her trusty headset microphone; also, she sang live with a band, without backing tracks and with full choreography, and she killed it. Not only was it one of TRLs most memorable moments, but it was also one of Britney's best performances.
The Backstreet Boys Premiered "I Want It That Way"
The Backstreet Boys spent a lot of time on TRL and not just in person; their music videos are some of the longest running #1 streaks the show ever saw. TRL was so important to the The Backstreet Boys' career that they did the world premier of "I Want It That Way" LIVE on TRL in 1999. The video went on to be their #1 video of the year. /swoon