Fier Thy Words

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“Goodnight, TRL”


Those were the last words ever uttered on MTV’s Total Request Live by it’s beloved former host Carson Daly last night as the network laid to rest one of it’s longest running shows Sunday night with it’s “Total Finale Live” tribute show, and provided me with yet another sign that even at the ripe old age of just 21 time keeps flying by and I’m getting too old to keep up with it.

After 10 years of bringing us music videos, pop stars, rock stars, movie stars and any and everybody in between, MTV has figuratively and literally pulled the curtain down over that famous window that faces New York City’s Times Square.

When thinking back to all of those afternoons I would get home from school and flip on MTV, the first thing that comes to mind is that as a 12 year old back in 1999, watching Carson Daly (who at the time was probably as cool to a 12 year old as any professional athlete) countdown the top ten music videos was as important if not more than doing homework or chores.

For all the nonsense MTV has and continues to orchestrate, the station provided my generation with a way to virtually interact with the musicians we became (at times disturbingly) infatuated with.

A pop-culture Icon of it’s time, TRL actually started way back in 1998, when MTV decided to merge two shows, MTV Live and Total Request (the ladder hosted by Daly) and formed the mega-hit TRL which went on to be a staple of MTV’s day time line up. (information courtesy of the always reliable Wikipedia)

You may not have always liked the music or the personalities the show had on (I know I didn’t), but watching and waiting for the unexpected made the show fun, and the show itself was responsible for reintroducing pop music.

From boy-bands to Britney Spears, from Kid Rock to Korn, from Cristina Aguilera to Beyonce, from Diddy to Blink 182, from Eminem to Miley Cyrus, popular music and the many genres which it encompasses were given a platform to reach their target audiences and a way to give fans a chance to get up close and personal with their favorite performers.

Speaking of that up close and personal experience, one I unfortunately never got around to doing, the imagines of seeing Times Square completely shut down was always something to behold, as thousands upon thousands of screaming fans would line 42nd and Broadway just hoping for a chance to catch a glimpse of Justin Timberlake or Mariah Carey walk over to that now infamous window waving down to them. The musicians became idols worthy of worship, and TRL became their pyramids.

Amazingly, the show has run its course after a decade, as MTV continues to distance itself farther and farther from the very thing the network was designed to promote: music.

Focusing primarily on realty television (very little of it any good), combined with the fact that access to music videos is now possible through the internet formed the perfect storm to wash away one of the few programs which through all the craziness it experienced, gave MTV a small sense of integrity.

The final show tonight was a trip down memory lane, as they were able to bring back Carson who hadn’t hosted the show regularly since back in 2003 when he left to start his own talk-show which follows Conan on NBC.

The guest list was massive, as members of both N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys showed up, as BSB actually performed “I Want It That Way”, which I would be flat out lying to say I didn’t enjoy hearing on TRL one final time.

Snoop, Diddy, 50 Cent, Beyonce, Fall Out Boy, Hillary Duff, Nelly, Kid Rock were among the many in attendance, while Christina and Eminem were among those who called in.

And although she wasn’t there, Britney Spears, the Princess of Pop herself, took the honors of being the final video ever to be played on TRL, as it was ranked as the number 1 song on TRL’s list of All-Time most influential videos with her classic “Hit Me Baby One More Time”.

The guests were only part of the attraction, as those who performed were great, however it was also a reunion of sorts of all of the people who have VJ’ed over the years, including people like Damien Fahey, the current host (or I guess, last host), Vanessa Minnillo, Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill), Quddus, Sway, La-La and more.

Amazing how times have changed since TRL’s beginnings, and while I haven’t watched the show in at least five years if not more, getting a chance to turn back the clock and see Carson and the set and the crowd was very nostalgic, and surprisingly enjoyable.

Sadly, as we move further into the depths of the 21st century, MTV, which has covered everything from Super Bowl’s to Super Sweet Sixteen’s, the Real World and real life (woo MTV News!), for anybody at or around my age, MTV will always be synonymous with Total Request Live, and while I can’t say I’ll miss the show considering how long it’s been since I watched it, I certainly miss the days in which I was obsessed watching it.

Gone are the days of refusing to admit you enjoyed the Backstreet Boys and Britney, or that when they retired an NSYNC music video a small part of you was sad to see it go.

And gone is my youth, which TRL seems to have taken with it the very end of my youth.

Believe it or not, I’ll miss them both.


November 17, 2008 - Posted by | Personal, Television, Thoughts | , , , , ,

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