Between its launch in 1998 and its finale in 2008, MTV’s Total Request Live acted as the center of the television universe for pop music, movie stars, and whatever else fell into teen culture during the turn of the century. Airing every day after school live from MTV’s studio overlooking Times Square, TRL was an institution that not only counted down the most popular music videos of the day but also acted as a clearinghouse for what was cool in an age before social networking.
That note gets hit on a lot in the new documentary The TRL Decade, an hour-long special that premieres this Sunday, January 29 at 9:30 PM on VH1 as part of their RockDocs series. The film traces the origins of the show, which was constructed from the DNA of two other MTV shows (Total Request and MTV Live), and follows it through its huge peak during the pop music boom period that saw acts like the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera rule the radio.
It also highlights a number of huge moments in the show’s history, from wild star visits from Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise to serious business like the Columbine shooting and September 11th. As the show points out, TRL was the place where young people came to see what other teens were talking about, and in the days before Facebook, it was a gateway to both arguments and cultural consensus.
But of course, it was also a place where stars would collide in unpredictable ways. In the exclusive clip below, rapper Method Man tells the tale of the time he and Redman showed up on an episode of TRL that was being guest-hosted by Britney Spears and Sabrina the Teenage Witch star Melissa Joan Hart. According to Meth, they had quite an unusual exchange when they went to pose for a picture. Get the reveal below.
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The TRL Decade contains classic clips featuring the likes of Mariah Carey (that ice cream incident), Jay-Z, Korn, and Nick Lachey. There’s also plenty of present-day insight from the TRL hosts (including Carson Daly, Damien Fahey, Vanessa Minnillo, Quddus, and La La Anthony) as well as TRL regulars like Mandy Moore, Good Charlotte, Pete Wentz, and Kid Rock. The whole thing rolls this Sunday, January 29 at 9:30 PM on VH1.
What’s your favorite TRL memory? Drop a beat in the comments.