Share This



By: Matthew Swanson

You must have Adobe Flash Player to use this function.

I set out to watch a week’s worth of episodes of Total Request Live on MTV to see what it is kids like these days, and to discern how it may differ from when I was watching TRL in the early to mid 1990’s.  I trusted my fickle cable box to tape it whenever it came on, so instead of getting one entire week, I have the Wedneday and Thursday of last week and Tuesday through Thursday of this week, but I figure as long as I sit through five recent episodes in order, I’ll get the idea. 

Upon hitting the info button for a description of the show, I noticed an error: “Viewers vote for their favorite music videos, which are then aired.”  That could have been a description of the show in 1995, but now it should read, “and then 34 seconds of the video is aired.”  Why do people “request” to see these videos knowing they’ll only see a snippet?  Just for the sake of truth in advertising, how about Partial Request Live?  Wait, it’s probably not live either because they probably do a bunch of takes, so how about Partial Request Sorta Live?  Whatever you want to call the show, I was now settled in with a pot of coffee, and ready to watch five of the blessed things. 

Episode 1: Wednesday, July 9TH, 2008

Damien Fahey, the nondescript white guy, and Lindsey Rodrigues, the tall, leggy Australian bird with a Latin last name, hosts the show these days.  A middle-aged guy walking by reads the first video title, and our first episode is under way . . .

Jordin Sparks – “One Step at a Time”  This is the first in a series of “Second Chance Videos.”  In other words, these are ones that MTV thinks people should give another chance.  I’m pretty sure she was an American contestant, which can lead to success, but this song is pretty dull.

Brendan Frazier is in the studio to promote his latest film, Journey to the Center of the Earth.  I think Brendan Frazier is on coke because he is more amped up than usual, but just as unfunny as always.

Our next Second Chance Video is Lloyd Featuring Lil’ Wayne  with “Girls Around the World.”  The song is pretty good, but Wayne ’s rap in it kind of sucks.  Why isn’t Lil’ Wayne ’s “Lollipop” song on the list?  I love that song.  I thought that was like the biggest song right now?   I suppose that demonstrates that I know nothing of modern hit music, which is why I’m the perfect guy for this endeavor.   

“Random VJ” continues!”  An effeminate kid from Seattle is asked what he would ask a celebrity.  His question of who is the worst person to work with is a good enough question to give him permission to come upstairs into the studio!

The next second chance video is Charlotte Sometimes’ “How I Can Just Kill a Man. ”  Is this a Cypress Hill cover?  One commonality of these videos appears to be that their female singers are bigger than a size 3.  I feel that is why they never cracked the top 10.  

Effeminate kid from Seattle (Gordon) is in the studio, ladies and gentlemen.  Brendan is cleverly calling him Gordon the Accordian.  Actually, that’s kind of funny.  Gordon is reading questions off of a cue card about what it was like to shoot Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D.  Then Brendan goes on-and-on about how scenes were shot on a treadmill.  BFD.  BFD in 3D.  They showed a clip when they’re in mining cars just like Temple of Doom, only it looks like a video game.  I wouldn’t see this movie on a bet.

Our next video is Get L Like Me by David Banner featuring Chris Brown.  So, his name is like The Hulk?  Wait, David was the one from the TV Show, since TV execs thought Bruce Banner sounded like a gay guy.  If the hulk were gay it would be hilarious.  “Don’t make me mad, bicthes!  I get fierce!”

MTV news cuts in with John Norris, the dude who hosted TRL when I was in high school.  He still looks the same: still kind of dorky.  That’s kind of the trick, though.  If you’re never all that cool, then you’ll never have that fall from grace, and people will just say, “He looks good.”

The Veronicas video for “Untouched” is shown, and I need more time to figure this thing out.   21 seconds was not enough time for me to decide if the song is any good or if the Veronicas are hot.  There are two of them, and they look really alike.  Are they sisters?  Twins? Well, that doesn’t make sense, cause they wouldn’t both be named Veronica if they were twins, right?  In any even, there’s a lot of uncertainty about this video, but I think I like it.

Another Second Chance Video, and this time it’s Solange’s “I Decided.”  The song is good, it’s a cool video, but it’s got all kinds of black history things that most modern viewers wouldn’t get.  Maybe Solange should dumb it down a shade, and then go for her second chance.

I’m not kidding about this, TRL calls their big bag of letters “The D. Bag.”

The next video is Secondhand Seranade’s “I Will Fall For You.”  I don’t like it, but there’s an angry girl in her undergarments. 

Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” is up next with a second chance.  It borrows the melody from “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Werewolves of London.”  It’s really not that bad of a song.  Mr. Rock says, “Drinkin’ whiskey from the bottle, not worrying about tomorrow.”  I’m not sure if that quite rhymes, but it’s a good message for the summertime, if you’re a rock star who doesn’t have to wake up early.

Madonna closes the show, bringing nothing new to the table in her song “Give It To Me.”  The video can’t hold my attention, and all I can think about is she and Alex Rodriguez.  Did he really get on her, and if so, did he do it because it was on his to do list, or because he has a cougar complex?

Episode 2: Thursday, July 10TH, 2008

#10 – T.I.  with “No Matter What.”  In my entirely uninformed opinion, this guy is a good rapper, but this song has a lousy hook for the chorus, because T.I., whatever that stands for, is just unenthusiastically saying the refrain.  He needs a token, big, heavy Black lady to knock that chorus out of the park.

This is an Up and Coming Musicians Episode, and our first unsigned band is a shaggy haired threesome from Fairfax, Virginia called The Friday Night Boys.  Evidently, they had a song on The Real World and they get lots of hits on their Myspace page.  They performed a real bad acoustic number called Chasing a Rock Star, which I can see working plugged in as one of those pop/punk clone bands with a nasally voice, but I don’t think even the TRL crowd, who can scream at virtually anything, was feeling this one.

#9 –Paramore.  “That’s What You Get.”  They are one of those pop/punk clone bands I just spoke of minus the nasally voice.

#8 Miley Cyrus – “7 Things” Billy Ray’s daughter!  She’s Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter.  I just recently saw an interview with Dave Mustaine from Megadeth where he was saying he’s never had a number one record because Countdown to Extinction could not pass up Achy Breaky Heart, so now he thinks of that every time he sees Billy’s daughter on TV.  Who would have ever thought Dave would have any kind of reaction from Billy Ray’s daughter?

Taylor Hicks, the gray haired American Idol, is now interviewed, and he’s talking about his upcoming, Broadway appearance in Grease.  Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t the American Idol go right into the Danny Zucco role, and not the Frankie Avalon one?

#7 – Metro Station “Shake It.”

A Death Cab for Cutie video is shown, and do these guys bore you to tears, or what?  They look bored in the video too.  The four of them are sitting Indian style and singing into the camera with blank stares.  It takes place in a church during a wedding, the VJ said a guy runs over and kisses the girl at the alter, but they didn’t leave the video on long enough for me to see that.  I’ll have to hope that a later episode shows those 32 seconds, and hopefully not more blank stares, cause I saw lots of those just now.

Brokencyde, self-proclaimed Scream-o Hip Hop originators, are next in the unsigned bands segment.  One guy raps and one guy screams at the top of his lungs, and yet another guy dances around in a pig suit.  As bad as it was, and as sick as I am of the whole rap/rock thing, it was kind of fun, and I could actually see these guys catching on.  If they do, I hope pig suit guy gets a proper cut.

#6 - Pussycat Dolls “When I Grow Up.”  The chorus sounds like a children’s book, but the video, thankfully, looks like a soft-core, Cinemax porno.  This band is evidence of how a song can be a hit if the artists look hot enough, but in this case, I’m not complaining.

Believe it or not, TRL then cuts to kids who sent in clips of themselves dancing to their webcams in their bedrooms to the sounds of “When I Grow Up,” and one guy is a winner and wins stuff.   Is it me, or is everyone looking for stardom without leaving their house, or even their bedrooms?  All these unsigned bands are boasting how many Myspace hits they get, but do they even play gigs?  Do they even have to these days?

#5 – Jonas Brothers with some piss poor song.

Caroline from Texas just won a guitar.  Not a big deal, but Lindsey looks real good holding it.

#4 – Rhianna’s “Take a Bow.”  She really reminds me of a young, less coke addled Whitney Houston.  Whitney, of course, had a better voice, but this one might be prettier.  The song is not terrible, and she has a real charisma about her.  Let’s hope, for her sake, she stays away from the nose candy.

5 million Myspace views for our next hopeful artist, Nycole Valentina!

#3 - Plies ft. NE-YO , Bust it Baby Part 2.  Less than 15 seconds of the video is shown, and it was never clear to me which guy was Plies and which bloke was NE-YO. 

#2. We Are Scientists “After Hours.”  This is not a bad song, and they have a really good-looking singer.  He must get an ungodly amount of girls.  He kind of has a Simon LeBon quality.  Why do I feel a need to compare all these people to 1980’s artists?  The concept: The scientists appear to be roommates entertaining one female.  The better looking one is kanoodling with her, while the less good looking one only gets attention only from the dog.  I have a feeling the less good looking one is going to have his moment in the sun, but I’ll never know, because it was cut off.

#2. Chris Brown, “Forever.”  It’s a good song.  I’ll admit it.

Rocket to the Moon is our next unsigned band.  There already is a band called Rocket from the Crypt, but I’m sure these kids didn’t know that, so we’ll give them a break.  The singer is a tall, gingery singer with a pearl snap shirt, a vest, and a girl’s white belt.  The song is a little hokey but not horrible. 

#1 – “I Kissed a Girl” by Kelly Perry.  Didn’t Jill Sobule sing a song called “I Kissed a Girl” in the 1990’s?  I remember hearing that song and just thinking Jill was a straight-up lesbian.  Now, it’s a natural course of events that girls make out with one another every couple of days.  Even if the music was way better when I was in high school in the days of Nirvana and grunge, I think I’d gladly do it all over in the days of nonchalant lesbianism.

Episode 3, July 15th, 2008

#10 – Coldplay.  I listened to the whole record, and it’s really boring.  I bought their first one after hearing Yellow on MTV2, and I thought they were cool then.  After their second record, they got really popular, especially among women.  Then he got married, named his kid Apple, and made his latest snore-job effort.

After less than a minute of Coldplay’s video, Seth Green is interviewed by our friend Lindsey, the tall Australian Host who towers over him.  His eyes are puffy and his voice is scratchy.  He was probably out partying all night with Lindsay Lohan, but who could blame him?

#9 – Paramore’s “That’s What You Get” – 14 seconds of the video is shown.  I timed it.

#8 – a full minute of “Shake It” by Metra Station is shown, and I still have nothing worthwhile to say about it.

N.E.R.D. is in the studio, a minute of a half of their new video is aired, and the song, not surprisingly, is good and it has an interesting sound to it.

#5 – Eleven seconds of the Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up”  Don’t ask me what happened to seven and six on the countdown.  Let’s just forge ahead, shall we? 

#4 Jonas Brothers appear at number 4.  They kind of look like Menudo.  There I go again with 1980’s references.

Next, a guy from Bed Bath and Beyond comes in to give advice about redecorating a dorm room.  I’m not kidding.

Farnsworth Bently, Diddy’s personal assistant and the guy who managed to appear in a bunch of Outkast videos, often holding an umbrella, comes in to talk about his new show called From G’s to Gents.  I want to be in an entourage in the worst way.  It’s a fast track to success by just leaching off your buddies, even if it means simply holding an umbrella in a rap video.

#2 - Chris Brown’s “Forever.”  There must have been no number three this week.  I may have fast-forwarded too far, but the more important thing right now is, has anyone else ever noticed that he says, “double your pleasure and double your fun?”  Did he have to pay Wrigley for that?  Why aren’t there more twins in the videos?  Why can’t I reference anything after 1995?

#1 – Still Katie Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” and instead of showing the video, they aired the live performance where she awkwardly dances around and sings to female audience members.

Episode 4: Wednesday July 16th, 2008

Damien the VJ starts the show off, and the more I look at him the more it appears as if he’s kind of in the tradition of Carson Daley, in that he’s not that good looking, but if you leave him on TV enough, chicks will dig him, somehow.  He’s not giving up on that goatee either.  I’ve seen two weeks worth of this shit, and it’s just.  Not.  Coming in.

10 – The Veronica’s “Untouched”  After my second viewing, I’m pretty sure these girls are hot, and I almost think I like the song.

This show is mostly hosted by Run from Run DMC and the rest of his family from the reality show Run’s House.  Diggy, one of Run’s younger kids, is trying to tell a story about a baby throwing up in his mouth.  They showed the clip, and I didn’t see any throw up.  I need some slow motion on that shit.

9. Coldplay “Violet Hill.”

All American Rejects are in the studio, and they’re a fun band with a lot of personality.  They’re touring with Bon Jovi, and the one guy has a Bon Jovi tattoo.  I thought they were kidding, but he showed it.  The singer told a story about an awkward long hug from Jon Bon, and he said it was a “good awkward hug.  I got a little semi.”  By semi he meant half-mast, and I’m blown away that these guys are so funny and likeable.

#8 – Metro Station continues to “Shake It.”  I still couldn’t hum you a bar from this one.

#7 is “7 Things” by Billy Ray’s daughter, and I hope Dave Mustaine wasn’t watching this with anything near him that could break a television set. 

Run’s family is back.  Mom is talking about her new jewelry line, and one kid has a rap album and a clothing line.  One of the daughters is wearing something from her clothing line.  The little kid who got his mouth barfed in has a clothing line.  I don’t think Run has a clothing line, but he is wearing a priest get-up with Adidas, of course.  Even the littlest has some clothes coming out.  I thought I was rocking a pretty solid lemonade stand at his age, but this kid is something else. 

I’ve seen a couple of episodes of Run’s House where mom and dad break down what’s been happening lately in their bed with Run in his silk jammies, just like Cliff Huggstable on The Cosby Show.  That kind of crap is just so scripted and annoying.

# 6 is Plies ft.NE-YO, and upon another listen, it appears to be a decent R and B song with a guy with all gold teeth rapping.  However, I still don’t know which guy is Plies and which one is NE-YO.  I often have this problem because it seems all rap and R and B songs are featuring someone, and rarely do I know either guy.  In the 1990’s, I was better at this because I knew more of these guys, for one, but it was usually some rapper featuring Nate Dogg, and I know Nate Dogg when I see him.

#5. Jonas Brothers still burnin’ up the charts with their still not good song “Burnin Up.”

#4. is “When I Grow Up” by The Pussy Cat Dolls, and in these 30 seconds of the video they are dancing on top of cars.  These girls look and sound for all the world like the Fanta soda girls.  Wait, I just had a great idea for a reality show: Wanna, Wanna, Wanna Be a Fanta (Girl).  If anyone wants to steal that awesome-ass idea, you’ll have to contact my editor at

Again, TRL then cuts to the idiot kids dancing to “When I Grow Up” in their bedrooms with their webcams.

Run interviews Timbiland and Carrie Hudson.  They did that song together called “The Way,” which I thought was real great.  Timbaland looks like a cartoon turtle, but he’s still the coolest man on earth because, despite being incredibly talented and successful, he presents so humbly.  Timbaland is working on something with Chris Cornell, and he said something the effect of, “I don’t know if you all will know him, but he was in a band back in the day called Soundgarden.”  As he’s saying this, I’m thinking, “Of course they know them!  That wasn’t that long ago!”   Upon hearing approximately three people applaud, it occurs to me that it was that long ago.

TRL then premiers Carrie’s new video, “Energy.”  She’s doing a boxing workout in the video, sweating in a gym, all by herself, wearing a couple of different scantily clad, yet not too workout appropriate outfits.

After going to the bathroom, hitting my head on my roommates pull-up bar in the doorway, I came back Just in time to see that Chris Brown is still at #2 with Forever and “I Kissed a Girl” by Kelly Perry is still holding firm at #1.  Those two are like Gehrig and Ruth! 

Episode 5: Thursday July 17TH 2008

Damien is sick, which means more Lindsey.  She’s real tall . . .

10. “Get Silly” by V.I.C. ft Soulja Boy.  Either fatigue is setting in hard after all this TRL, or this is the most stupid song ever made.

Nas is the guest, and he’s wearing a very nice sweater vest today.

#9. Paramore “That’s What You Get.”

Nas’ new song “Hero” is shown, and it’s clear this song is better than the “Get Silly” one from a minute ago.

#8. Coldplay with “Violet Hill.”  The song is still dull, and his kid is still named Apple.

#7. Billy Ray’s daughter again with “7 Things.”  She looks really young, and she shows it when a line says “You text me and I delete it.”

Most of this episode is talking about fashion with Russell Simmons’ wife or ex wife, or whatever, but it’s just not interesting and has nothing to do with music.  I mean, she used to sleep with a guy that produced some great rap records, and he’s related to Run from Run DMC, if I’m not mistaken, but I just have no tolerance, after four and a half of these shows, especially, to listen to this lady talk about back-to-school outfits for girls on a channel that is supposed to be all about music videos.  MTV stands for Music Television, does it not?  Okay, forgive me.  I’m losing it here.

6. Jonas Brothers “Burnin’ Up.”  Still craptacular.

Kim Solz with an MTV news update.  Apparently, a gal from Making the Band is going to be in Hairspray on Broadway.  Her favorite song is “Cooties.”  They showed a clip of her singing it, and I was embarrassed for her, despite never having met her.

5. Pussycat Dolls “When I Grow Up.”  This video has exhausted all its booty shaking possibilities, and they are left with a real lousy song that, again, sounds like a Dr. Seuss book if you listen closely, which I was forced to do.

4. Plies feat. NE-YO “Bust It Baby Part 2”  One wonders what ever became of Part 1.  Maybe it was polka.  A bit of a departure for Plies or NE-YO, or whoever is the brains behind the “Bust It” series.

A professional BMX guy is on the show, and he is also the host of Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which is a bunch of Real World guys who found that the real world outside of the Real World means they have to work for a living, so they keep coming back to compete as “Veterans” against new teams. 

After a commercial break, Lindsay gives the answer to the trivia question from before the commercials: What Blockbuster did Brad Pitt turn down to appear in Se7en?  Answer: Apollo 13.  Lindsey says, “I think he made the right choice, what about you?”  BMX guy says, “I have no idea what you just said.  It’s so loud in here.”  It wasn’t at all loud when she was talking (no screaming, anyway).  “Brad Pitt in Se7en” she says, to which he replies, “I like Brad Pitt.”  This guy may have had too many wipeouts on his bike.  They then played his video on the show and on the Times Square screen, and he raps.  Badly.

3. Rhianna “Take a Bow.”  One wonders if this song will overtake Chris Brown, but God willing, I’ll never find out.

2. Chris Brown “Forever.”

#1 - Kelly Perry “I Kissed a Girl.”  This time I noticed that she said “I tasted her cherry chap stick.”  That’s a good detail, I think, but I can’t help but think that girls seem like whores today.  Lesbian whores.  My daughter is never leaving the house.  She can’t have boys over.  No girls either, after hearing this. 

All right, I am free from TRL’s clutches and able to reflect on my findings.  As I think about it, there has always been crap music since the beginning of time (I’m sure some guys banging on rocks were better than others), but it seems like the mainstream keeps getting worse as a whole.  While the 1970’s was the golden age of rock music (Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, etc), they still had a lot of garbage like “Convoy” (the song about truckers talking on their radios.)  The 1980’s had some really great stuff like The Cure and The Smiths, but they also had really, really bad stuff that couldn’t be a hit in any other decade like “Hip to be Square” and “We Built This City.”

As we can see, with each decade, the mainstream gets a little worse.  People in the 1970’s hated disco, but tell me those Bee Gees songs aren’t good.  In the 1980’s, I’m sure many people made fun of The Go-Go’s and Hall and Oats, but those songs still sound great too.  Do you think anyone will be singing “Get Silly” in Ten Years?  How about in one? 

The reason for this decline is that what is popular is being dictated more and more by these two factors: How good looking the artists are and what 15-year-old girls think of them.  Have you ever gotten a close look at Rush?  I mean, Getty Lee looks like a chicken, but they were talented guys who sold lots of records.  His chicken face (sorry, Getty) couldn’t get onto TRL these days with a gun.  If you see the screaming kids on Total Request Live, they all appear to be screaming young girls, who, of course with a few exceptions, are not likely to know good music.  It’s not that good music isn’t out there these days; you just have to look harder for it, because it’s not often on the radio, and it’s certainly not on TRL.

Sure, I know that when I was in high school, while bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana were on TRL, there was also stuff like Right Said Fred, but at least we got to see all of Right Said Fred.  I mean, hell, if we only saw a portion, we might know that he was too sexy for Milan, but we’d never learn that he was too sexy for his cat.



All opinions expressed by Matthew Swanson are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

Become a Thirsty Friend:

Share This

Search Thirsty for:

© Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. 2006 - 2008
All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Contact | Site Map