Last night, VH1 aired a very special episode of its ongoing documentary series Rock Docs: An hour dedicated to the decade-long run of MTV‘s Total Request Live, or as we lovingly knew it, TRL. I definitely recommend you check it out, because no matter your age it’s likely that you relied on TRL for your breaking music and movie news from 1998-2008.
VH1 got together former VJs Carson Daly, Quddus, Damien Fahy, Vanessa Minnillo, and others, plus artists like the Backstreet Boys and Mandy Moore to comment on the ups and downs of the show’s run. They cover everything from Columbine and 9/11 to stars’ breakdowns and hospitalizations. TRL was like being invited into celebrities’ private circle, but you also got the sense that the kids in the studio and clustered outside the MTV building controlled the action. As Kid Rock said, ”The TRL decade was so wrong, but it was very close to right.”
So, we’ve rounded up our ten favorite moments from last night—from quotes we’ve never heard before to crazy fans to when the folks at TRL knew that they had gone from reporting on pop culture to being a part of pop culture.
1. Carson Daly takes credit for Jessica Simpson: TRL‘s first big hits and frequent guests were the bubblegum pop set, and Carson believes that he played a big part in making Jessica Simpson a household name. He mentions how he heard one of her early power ballads — even though the first song of hers we heard was “I Think I’m in Love with You” — and brought it to the show’s producers. So, he acknowledged, he helped to get her famous faster than if she had just been playing on Radio Disney or somesuch.
2. Britney’s ass: It was a funny enough juxtaposition to see cute little Britney Spears interviewing Method Man and Redman while doing guest-host duties. But then Method Man told a hilarious story about how, while posing for a photo, he leaned in to Britney right as the camera flashed and whispered, ”You got a fat ass for a white girl.” Better yet, right after they snapped the photo, the teen pop queen turned around and said, straight-faced, “Thank you.”
3. “Tiffany the crazy *NSYNC girl”: No matter what the medium, you’ll always have way too passionate fans. Young Tiffany was one example that all of the VJs remembered well: She competed against another girl for the chance to see *NSYNC’s new video first, but the other girl had a better handle on random details like which doll was wearing a basketball jersey. When Carson laughed off Tiffany’s defeat, she growled, “I’ll kill you!”
4. Making it to Saturday Night Live: As proud as he was of Jessica Simpson, Carson seemed even prouder of when Jimmy Fallon introduced his Carson Daly impression on SNL in 2002. He later appeared in-character on TRL, down to the same outfit.
5. Nipplegate, the early years: The one mention that Da Brat got was for the time she hosted TRL wearing a shirt unbuttoned over a bra… a sheer bra. As one of the producers tells it, suddenly he heard in his ear, “Nipple!” But somehow back in 2000, this wasn’t as huge a deal as in 2004 when we got an eyeful of Janet Jackson‘s nipple. Sure, the producers alerted Da Brat and she apologized — and many think it wasn’t accidental at all — but no viewers were scarred.