Total Request Live
Although (big surprise) I used to be one of those fellows who would watch TRL every day after school and during the summer (and these were the TRL glory days of the late 90s), it has been a few years since I had seen an episode. Fortunately, due to the fact that I was on a business trip, I was able to catch an episode this past Thursday, and wished to share my thoughts.
First of all, although it's barely relevant to the show any more, here was the top 10 videos.
10. Vanessa Hudgens - "Come Back to Me" <-- She drooped the Anne!
9. The Game ft. Junior Reid - "It's OK (One Blood)"
8. My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade"
7. Danity Kane - "Showstopper"
6. Cassie - "Long Way to Go"
5. Evanescence - "Call Me When You're Sober"
4. JoJo - "Too Little, Too Late"
3. AFI - "Love Like Winter"
2. Justin Timberlake - "SexyBack"
1. Beyonce - "Ring the Alarm"
Best song - "Too Little, Too Late"
Best video - "Too Little, Too Late"
Worst song - "Love Like Winter"
Worst video - "Come Back to Me"
Good songs: "Too Little, Too Late", "Call Me When You're Sober"
OK Songs: "Ring the Alarm", "SexyBack", "It's OK (One Blood)", "Showstopper"
Bad Songs: "Live Like Winter", "Long Way to Go", "Welcome to the Black Parade", "Come Back to Me" (poor Vanessa Hudgens)
The host remains affable, personality-less but decent interviewer, much in the vein of Carson Daly. It's good to see not too much changes.
First thing I noticed was how boring all of the videos were. Where is the iconic imagery? Where is the song that when you hear it, instantly calls to mind the video. I think here of former MTV/VH1 staples like "...Baby One More Time" or "I Want it that Way" or "Steal My Sunshine" or even a more recent example like "Fell In Love With a Girl"? I guess the music video industry has really died out.
In addition, the countdown of songs was really an afterthought on the show. There was far, far more time dedicated to talking to the audience, interviewing their guests (Chingy and The Game) and updating the audience on music news than there was to the videos. I guess that's how it's always been on TRL, but I don't remember it being this bad. As in they were literally playing no more than 30 seconds of every video.
Also, where's the rap? Rap/R&B still dominates the current Hot 100, but with only one rap song (and that can be easily explained as The Game was the featured guest on the show) and three additional R&B songs on here, will that be for long? And that counts whitebread Justin Timberlake and reality TV graduates Danity Kane. Emo/Rock could be the wave of the future. Just like in the olden days with the late 90's/early 00's teen pop, the Emo/Rock artists on the list appear to be several weeks ahead of the charts. That is to say, an 'NSync or BSB or Britney song would always peak on TRL months before it peaked on the charts. It's bubbling on the charts pretty high right now, but we could be on the verge of an explosion, if TRL is truly a gauge of popular culture any more.
And if TRL is truly a gauge of teen culture, note that the songs we usually declare to be "teen pop" are basically absent from this chart, save Vanessa Hudgens and JoJo. But is "teen pop" bubbling under, ready for a big break out too? I still think it's the area of music where the most interesting things are happening today. I think big things are in its future, but I could be very wrong.
IN CONCLUSION: Damn kids! It was better in my day!