[Originally published on Facebook, November 12, 2008]
This Sunday the last episode of MTV’s TRL is airing on MTV Canada and it’s the end of a show that defined pop culture for the last ten years. It kind of breaks my heart because in so many ways TRL defined my teen years, even though I only saw a handful of episodes.
TRL premiered in 1998, hosted by Carson Daly and counted down the top ten videos everyday as voted by the viewers at home. It became a huge hit and helped launch the careers of pop acts like NSYNC, Britney, Christina and Eminem. It was a show that I had heard of a lot, but could never watch because we didn’t have MTV back in those days.
“Those days” being high school days. The time when pop music ruled the world, artists wore face mics and had huge teams of dancers behind them, young female artists that I looked up to like Brandy and Monica were so squeaky clean that they didn’t even show their belly buttons on TV, boy bands topped the charts and did funky choreography that was so easy to learn, and I would have to tape songs off the radio. Ahh, the good old days. And TRL defined those days. TRL became the sort of an obsession for me. It was the show that had all my favorite artists on it, smoking hot VJ’s that I were in love with and a host that was so cool, but I couldn’t watch it. I remember I had a website that I would go to everyday, just to read the recaps of what happened on TRL. Who was on, what videos were in the top ten, which MTV News reporter did the news. Getting TRL information was something that I needed constantly. When my aunt got a satellite dish and got MTV, she became my source. When I saw someone that I loved would be on TRL the upcoming week, people like The Rock, O-Town, Nelly, Eden’s Crush, Destiny’s Child, or if one my favorite boys like KK Holiday or Quddus were hosting, I’d give her a tape and pray that she’d remember. I still have those episodes buried under my TV somewhere and when I watch them, they still make me happy.
In my little 16 and 17 year old brain, TRL was the culture and life that I wanted someday. I would watch the amazing hosts like Carson, Lala and Vanessa and want to BE them. There were countless times where I’d watch TRL with my converter in hand as my microphone and pretend that I was hosting with them. And if I couldn’t be a VJ, even being an MTV news reporter would be cool. To me people like Sway, Gideon and Suchin were the smartest people on TV. Even now when I see Sway on TV I get all giggly. The studio in Times Square was like another world to me. When I finally did get to go to New York, I stared up at that window and wished that I could go inside, or be discovered on the street like Hillarie and become MTV’s newest VJ. There were some VJ’s that I fell in love with, Quddus being one because he was Canadian. I emailed him once and he emailed me back. I posted it in my locker.
Then as time went on, music changed, videos became less popular and a little copycat show premiered on BET in 2000 called 106th and Park, TRL became less important. I would still watch it everyday, when MTV finally came to Canada I could watch it, but it wasn’t the same. After Carson left, it wasn’t the same. And now it’s over, with Sunday being the last show. Big artists are expected to show up on the finale like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Diddy and others, all the old hosts are going to come back, it’ll be a walk down memory lane. When I saw that MTV Canada was actually going to show it, I almost burst in to tears because I can’t miss this.
So for this lonely teenager, TRL was a way to escape. To watch these young, wholesome stars in the good old days and wish that it was me up there. So thanks TRL, for the distraction and the memories.