Back in the day, long before people could watch videos on the internet, MTV actually used to play music (yes – as in more music than a 10 second clip during a TV show). Sure, they aired a random cartoon here and there (Daria anyone?), but they also dedicated at least 70% of their programming to music…. Their biggest hit (at least to me) being the epic music video countdown show that we all followed so damn religiously, Total Request Live. TRL was the reason I woke up every morning. I would legit race home from school to watch Carson Daly count down the top 10 music videos of the day. The top 10 did not change much… ever, but it was apparently very exciting to watch BSB fight with Nsync (and occasionally Britney) for the number 1 spot every day. It was like if the Spotify charts were a show.
Here are 10 songs that will forever make me think ‘TRL!‘ when I hear them:
1. Freak On A Leash – Korn
When ever I hear the word ‘bullet,’ I am immediately taken back in time to this music video. I see a cartoon bullet traveling through bedrooms, streets, restaurants, etc. That bullet went everywhere. How did it not hit anyone?!
2. The Bum Bum Song – Tom Green
I celebrated the day Tom Green’s ridiculous faux song beat out Britney, Nsync, BSB, etc for 1st place. I remember he came on the show to inform us all that his song was not serious (really?! how dare he say that!) and that it did not deserve to be number 1. ‘I wanna hear the canon!‘ Why did I ever think that song was funny?
3. Intergalactic – Beastie Boys
Well this is a necessary tribute, seeing as MCA passed away just a few days ago (RIP). The Beastie Boys were super badass (and still are), so having them release a song during my youth was awesome. From what I remember, this video was full of transformer/power ranger like robot things. Very futuristic. Very Y2K.
4. The Real Slim Shady- Eminem
This song is how I learned what a clitoris is. I remember watching this video every day and
singing rapping the vulgar lyrics at camp with my friends. I didn’t care that he was shitting on my beloved Britney Spears and Nsync. He was funny, weird, and everyone else liked him… After this song sparked major controversy, I remember downloading other versions of the song on Napster – including a fake Christina Aguileria singing a spoof/comeback song titled, ‘Will The Real Slim Shady Please Shut Up?’ Well, it’s been 12 years now (OMG I’M F*CKING OLD) and he hasn’t shut up yet… but Christina has. At least on iTunes.
What’s your name again?
5. Oops I Did It Again – Britney Spears
For a brief time, I made sure I caught TRL every day for the sole purpose of learning the dance Britney and her crew did in this video. I had already learned ‘Crazy‘ from her last CD thanks to Darren’s Dance Grooves, but for this video – I was on my own. Other than the awesome spaceship dance, this video was one of the best JUST BECAUSE of the rando Titanic reference where the hot dude gives Brit Rose’s necklace from the bottom of the ocean. Why? What does this have to do with space? What does this have to do with ANYTHING?
6. Bye Bye Bye – Nsync
After Nsync’s second album was released, they had this freak puppet show theme going in all their videos. In ‘It’s Gonna Be Me,’ the boys were packaged up as dolls on a toy store shelf occasionally fighting small army men, until some hot betch bought them… And as she rang them up, they became life size people (OMG TECHNOLOGY). Then, in the ever so popular ‘Bye Bye Bye‘ video, this same chick had the boys on strings and played with them like they were puppets. Then suddenly, the boys escaped on the top of a train and ran from the hot girl. Eventually they all found really nice convertibles (how convenient) and chased each other on a deserted highway until the girl was left next to a cliff. Luckily, no one died. Oh yeah, and there was an epic bye bye bye dance that I and everyone else knew and did on the daily. In fact, I still know it.
Get ready to feel old… This was 14 years ago!
7. Larger Than Life – Backstreet Boys
Talk about Y2K. This video was all about how cool the future was going to be. But 13 years later (ugh), it’s not that cool at all. There are no robots. Girls and guys do not wear weird space gear when going to space. Actually, normal people do not go to space ever. This whole space theme was apparent in Britney’s ‘Oops I Did It Again‘ too. Why? I don’t get it. This video spent the longest time at number 1 on TRL out of ALL the videos, so space must have been pretty cool to us back then… or this song was just SUPER AWESOME, which it was. So yeah.
8. Unpretty – TLC
Holy breast implants. This video brought me out of the sheltered shell I lived in and taught me about plastic surgery. Oh, you feel ugly? Just go to a doctor and have him make your boobs bigger. Oh, you feel fat? Just stop eating or start throwing up. I know you were trying to make a point, TLC, but thanks for the ideas!
9. Bawitdaba – Kid Rock
This is back when Kid Rock was actually a kid (slash when I was actually a kid, but whatever). This song was, like, so badass. Kid Rock strolled around in some trailer park area dressed like a pimp – colored top hats and velvet suits (yes – multiple outfits) and all. I still have absolutely no idea what the meaning of this video and song actually was… but there were kids, pimps, guidos before guidos existed, and what I think were prostitutes. Meaning, it was awesome. I think? I guess? Either way, this video sticks out in my mind as a TRL fan favorite… and I’m sure it does to you as well too.
10. I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys
No countdown involving music and videos from the 90s and early 2000s can be complete without mention of ‘I Want It That Way.’ Oh my god, this was, like, the best song ever. This video took place inside and outside an airport. Why? I don’t know. But the visual effects in the video were out of this world for 1999 (not really). Inside, the boys had on white suits and outside the suits were dark. I have no idea what the point of this video was except to relay the message that the boys wanted lots of fans around at all time with signs and they wanted to be able to leave said fans without being attacked by getting on their own private jet. Wouldn’t we all?
What songs make you think of Carson Daly and TRL? Sound off in the comments, 20-somethings!
TRL in 60 seconds…