For anybody who did not live through the peak of MTV’s Total Request Live, it’s difficult to understand just how important that show was to pop culture. Every day after school, TRL host Carson Daly would not only unveil the 10 most-requested videos of the day, but he would also interview movie stars, call his celebrity friends, and facilitate awkward exchanges between unlikely bedfellows. Before everybody cared about tween culture, TRL was the center of that universe.
It was also the last time MTV was truly committed to music videos. Though as time went on they showed less and less of the videos on the countdown, the early run of TRL featured full clips in all their glory, and for some of the most definitive acts of the late video era—including Eminem, Backstreet Boys, Blink 182, and Britney Spears—it was the only place to catch their work (remember, this is in the era before video on the Internet was a viable option).
But before all the Mariah Carey ice cream drop-ins and Tom Green-related conspiracies, it had to start with the first episode of Total Request Live, which aired on this day in 1998. It was a hybrid of two shows—MTV Live and Total Request—that had been running intermittently. The first show didn’t have a live studio audience, but it did have Daly’s low-key charisma and 10 great videos. On the 15th anniversary of the show’s premiere, let’s take a look back at the inaugural top 10. READ FULL STORY