MTV turns 30 this week, and on Monday we spotlighted the five '90s shows the channel should bring back. The end of that decade, of course, saw the rise of Total Request Live, which kicked off in 1998, by which point MTV had long succumbed to the domination of reality shows. Part of TRL's appeal was that it still played music videos; seeing that the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Britney Spears and co. came up pre-YouTube and pre-DVR, the kids' best shot at getting their fix was after school on cable.
To appeal to the viewing demographic, TRL was saturated with celebrity interviews and lots of teenage girl-screaming. That oddly-retro turn-of-the-Millenium moment, in fact, saw the resurgence of some of the most pop-fan craziness since Beatlemania. TRL lasted through 2008, but let's be real, it was never the same once Carson Daly left. The show lost its soul; the replacement VJs weren't as good and, even worse, girls stopped showing their midriffs.
So let's raise a glass to the continued celebration of MTV's 30th birthday by jamming out to the top 10 greatest videos from TRL's heyday.
10) “If You Had My Love” – Jennifer Lopez
This J.Lo debut captured the technological shift going on. Webcams, Internet TV and that creepy “Big Brother” feeling. What's next, flying cars?
9) “My Name Is” – Eminem
Back when this single was released, none of us could figure out which Spice Girl we wanted to impregnate.
8) “Bye Bye Bye” – N'Sync
In this classic N'Sync video, the boys simultaneously make a statement about “cutting the strings” from their former management, while performing death defying stunts such as rolling underneath an elevator shaft door that isn't moving. (1:59). C'mon Justin Timberlake, quit hanging out with Andy Samberg and grow that mini-fro back. And make a new album already!
7) “Calculus” – 2Gether
In an absolutely brilliant spoof of the formulaic nature of both the boy band and their music, 2Gether taught us the invaluable lesson that U + ME = US.
6) “Nookie” – Limp Bizkit
This song was about Christina Aguilera, right? Did she or did she not give Fred Durst some nookie? It will forever remain a mystery.
5) “Livin' La Vida Loca” – Ricky Martin
This horn-heavy jam had overly-intoxicated, under-coordinated women everywhere thinking they could salsa.
4) “Dirrty” – Christina Aguilera
Ass-less chaps: An underutilized pop star accessory.
3) “Got the Life” – Korn
Korn has to be in the number 3 spot. Why? Because that's “the Korn spot,” as Carson Daly dubbed it. This song spent 63 days in third place, and sadly never made it to number one. It became the first video TRL officially had to retire.
2) “I Want It That Way” – Backstreet Boys
Remember sitting on your couch, laughing at the ridiculous girls in this video crying at the sight of their beloved Backstreet Boys, then suddenly finding you're crying as well? No? Just us?
And the number one all time greatest TRL heyday video IS…
1) “Oops, I Did It Again” – Britney Spears
You're not that innocent, Britney. Oh man, we had no idea.