Total Request Live

Total Request Live (known commonly as TRL) was an American television program broadcast on MTV that premiered on September 14, 1998. The series featured popular music videos played during its countdown, and was also used as a promotion tool by musicians, actors, and other celebrities to promote their newest works to the show's target teen demographic.

Total Request Live
Also known asTRL
Presented byOriginal:
Carson Daly
Dave Holmes
Damien Fahey
Hilarie Burton
Vanessa Minnillo
La La Vasquez
Susie Castillo
Lyndsey Rodrigues
DC Young Fly
Tamara Dhia
Amy Pham
Erik Zachary
Lawrence Jackson
Matt Rife
2018 retooling:
2019 retooling:
Jamila Mustafa
Kevan Kenney
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons20
No. of episodes2,254
Running time45–48 minutes (formerly)
20–23 minutes (final episodes)
Original networkMTV
Original release
  • Original:
    September 14, 1998 (1998-09-14) – November 16, 2008 (2008-11-16)
  • Revival:
    October 2, 2017 (2017-10-02) – 2019 (2019)

During the original run of the program, TRL played the ten most requested music videos of the day, as voted by viewers via phone or online. The show generally aired Monday through Thursday for one hour, though the scheduling and length of the show fluctuated over the years. Although TRL was billed as a live show, many episodes were actually pre-recorded. Due to declining ratings, and the larger secular decline of music-based television in favor of online services, MTV would announce the cancellation of TRL on September 15, 2008.[1] The special three-hour finale episode, Total Finale Live, aired on November 16, 2008.[2]

Less than a decade later, TRL would be revived on October 2, 2017.[3] In 2019, the show aired Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. ET as TRL Top 10. The show was then rebranded to Fresh Out Live.



Total Request Live originated from several pre-existing programs on MTV. Dial MTV, the first video request show on the network, had aired from 1986 to 1996. In 1997, MTV launched two new shows that became the predecessors of TRL: Total Request, a revival of the Dial MTV concept hosted by Carson Daly, and MTV Live, which was hosted by Toby Amies, Daly, and Ananda Lewis and featured live performances and interviews from musical artists.

Total Request was more subdued than MTV Live, as Daly introduced music videos from an empty, dimly lit set. As the show progressed and gained more momentum with viewers tuning in, it was soon added to the list of daytime programming during MTV's Summer Share in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The countdown would prove to be one of the most watched and most interactive shows in recent MTV history, demonstrating that it had potential to become an even larger success by combining with the element of live television.

Original run (1998–2008)Edit

Carson Daly eraEdit

In Fall 1998, MTV producers merged the real-time aspect of MTV Live with the fan-controlled countdown power of Total Request into Total Request Live. The program made its debut from MTV Studios on September 14, 1998. The show then grew to become MTV's unofficial flagship program.

The original host of TRL, Carson Daly, brought popularity to the show. The widely known abbreviation of TRL was adopted as the official title of the show in February 1999, after Daly and Dave Holmes began using the abbreviation on air regularly. In the years following, the program was rarely referred to by its complete title. The show's countdown started off successfully while receiving hundreds of votes for favorite artists such as Hanson, Aaliyah, Blaque, TLC, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Janet Jackson, *NSYNC, and Backstreet Boys.[4]

TRL spent its first year developing a cult-type following.[5] In Fall 1999, a live studio audience was added to the show. By Spring 2000, the countdown reached its peak, becoming a very recognizable pop culture icon in its first two years of existence. A weekend edition of the show known as TRL Weekend, with a countdown consisting an average of the week's Top 10, aired for a short time in 2000.[citation needed]

In 2001, the popularity of TRL was at such a level that it spawned a country music spin-off, CMT Most Wanted Live, on sister network CMT, until 2004.[6] In July 2001, MTV sponsored the Total Request Live Tour, which played over 30 dates in North America and featured acts like Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Eve, and Nelly.[7]

Some evolutionary changes were made to TRL throughout the next few years. The show received a new set and on-screen graphics for the debut of the Fall 2001 season. A year later, on October 23, 2002, TRL celebrated its 1,000th episode. The number-one video on that day was "Dirrty" by Christina Aguilera. Also throughout the year of 2002, original host Carson Daly would be seen gradually less and less as he had branched out with his own late-night talk show Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC.[8] The show had near-daily segments from MTV News correspondents reporting on the latest in national or entertainment and music news from inside the studio.

Post-Carson Daly eraEdit

In 2003, the next generation of TRL was ushered in as Carson Daly officially stepped down as host.[9] Daly left the show to focus on his own talk show which premiered a year earlier on NBC. Following Daly stepping down, a revolving door of VJs hosted TRL, including Damien Fahey, Hilarie Burton, Vanessa Minnillo, Quddus, La La Vasquez, and Susie Castillo. Some of these VJs made their debut on the show in earlier years, so they recently had the opportunity to host the show on days in which Daly was absent.

Some changes were made to TRL's voting process in 2005. The show previously allowed anyone to vote online several times, but as part of these changes, only registered members on could vote online. Additionally, a limit of one vote per day was added. Then, on July 10, 2006, MTV announced that votes would not be taken by phone, ending the legacy of the "DIAL MTV" phone number, which had been in use for voting on MTV since the premiere of the countdown show Dial MTV in the mid-1980s.

TRL's studios in Times Square in 2006.

In September 2006, TRL reached its eighth anniversary and, at that point, it was the longest-running live program that MTV had ever produced. It is also the third-longest-running program of all time in the network's history, following behind The Real World, which has aired for the past 21 years, and 120 Minutes, which aired for 17 years. Around this time, TRL began airing officially on just four days a week (Monday through Thursday), as opposed to all five weekdays.

On November 2, 2006, TRL introduced what was billed as the first-ever hip hop public service announcement on global warming. The three-minute piece, titled "Trees", warned about deforestation and the dangers of global warming. The video corresponded with MTV's social campaign, Break the Addiction, as part of think MTV.

The hosts of TRL in 2008 were Damien Fahey and Lyndsey Rodrigues. Additionally, Stephen Colletti, former cast member on Laguna Beach, has appeared on TRL as host numerous times. The rest of the VJs are or have been working on separate projects. Hilarie Burton left TRL in 2004, after joining the cast of The WB/CW's One Tree Hill, playing Peyton Sawyer. Quddus hosted from 2001 to 2006. He left to move to California to be a host of TV One Access.[10]

On May 22, 2007, TRL celebrated its 2000th episode, showing highlights from the past 2000 episodes, and a special countdown of ten of the most successful videos to ever appear on the show. Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" topped the special countdown.

The end of TRLEdit

In 2007, rumors began circulating stating that the ratings-challenged music video countdown show was to be canceled. In early 2007, an average of 373,000 viewers regularly watched the program.[11] New York Daily News were one of the first to publish this rumor. In February 2007, MTV said the rumor was unfounded and claimed TRL would continue to air for the foreseeable future.

The producers of TRL experimented with web-based viewer interaction throughout the 2006–2007 season, showing viral videos, allowing viewers to send feedback on a video via internet forums and webcams, along with a heavy emphasis on MTV's since discontinued Overdrive video portal. However, MTV still secretly planned to cancel the show and replace one with even more emphasis on viewer interaction, named YouRL (a homophone of URL.)[12]

Consequently, in July 2007, it was reported that YouRL was not received well by test audiences and the concept was abandoned. Total Request Live proceeded with a new season as usual on September 4, marking the tenth season of the show.[13]

TRL logo in 2008.

On September 15, 2008, it was announced that TRL would be shut down. The final regular weekday episode aired on November 13, 2008, with guest Seth Green and The All-American Rejects. The Rejects spent the entire episode assisting in the tear down of the set which was a theme for the episode. At the end of the episode, Lindsey and Damien cooperatively added the last step in the demolition process by shutting down all the lights. Preceding was a montage of cast and crew members saying their goodbyes by waving to the camera.

A three-hour special marking the end of the show aired on November 16, 2008.[1] Several artists made appearances, including Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Fall Out Boy, Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, JC Chasez, Christina Aguilera, Travis Barker, Taylor Swift, Hilary Duff, Eminem, and Korn's Jonathan Davis.[14] Former host Carson Daly described the media atmosphere after his departure from TRL, in an interview with TV Guide: "MySpace was sold. Social networking took off. Technology went crazy. The whole tectonic shift of mass media. There were a lot of reasons why TRL became kind of a different show after I left. I don't necessarily think it had anything to with me leaving as much as it had to do with the changing landscape."[15]

The last music video to be played on TRL (during the final episode) was "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears, being the video that made number one on the countdown of the most iconic videos of all time. As the show did its final countdown of all-time videos, her now-iconic first hit, "... Baby One More Time", emerged as the top video, and played as the credits of the show ran for the last time.[16]

Final top 10Edit

TRL chose the top ten most iconic videos and aired them as their final countdown.[17]

Position Year Artist Video Director
1 1998 Britney Spears "...Baby One More Time" Nigel Dick
2 2000 Eminem "The Real Slim Shady" Dr. Dre/Philip Atwell
3 1999 Backstreet Boys "I Want It That Way" Wayne Isham
4 2000 *NSYNC "Bye Bye Bye"
5 2002 Christina Aguilera featuring Redman "Dirrty" David LaChapelle
6 1999 Kid Rock "Bawitdaba" Dave Meyers
7 2003 Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z "Crazy in Love" Jake Nava
8 2004 Usher featuring Ludacris & Lil Jon "Yeah!" Mr. X
9 1999 Blink-182 "What's My Age Again?" Marcos Siega
10 2003 Outkast "Hey Ya!" Bryan Barber

Revivals (2014–2016)Edit

On June 25, 2014, MTV announced that they would bring back Total Request Live for a one-off special edition on July 2, presented by MTV personality Sway with recording artist Ariana Grande, who performed her single "Problem" and premiered her song "Break Free", as well as having her hip hop knowledge tested in a "Hip Hop Mix Up" game. The special was titled Total Ariana Live and was broadcast from MTV's Times Square studio in front of a live audience. Grande called it "a huge honor" to bring back TRL.[18] The episode drew an average of 456,000 viewers.[19]

On September 27, 2016, as part of MTV's Elect This campaign, the network revived the program for a one-hour live special called Total Registration Live.[20] It was simulcast on MTV's website, app, Facebook and YouTube pages, and It was hosted by Nessa and featured performances by Ty Dolla $ign from his politically motivated mixtape Campaign. Kendall Jenner appeared in Times Square on behalf of Rock the Vote, and Ana Marie Cox and Jamil Smith from MTV News appeared on-air for segments. There were other appearances by Joss Whedon, Camila Cabello, Vic Mensa, Natalia Dyer, and Mack Wilds. Stories of millennials who have been activists were spotlighted.

MTV ClassicEdit

Following the launch of MTV Classic on August 1, 2016, music video blocks have consistently aired on the network under the name Total Request Playlist. When broadcast, however, this is merely an automated playlist of pop, rap/hip-hop, R&B, and rock videos from the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

Return (2017–2019)Edit

2017 revival logo

On July 30, 2017, MTV announced that the network would revive TRL.[3] In addition to the hosts, Liza Koshy, The Dolan Twins, Eva Gutowski, Gabbie Hanna and Gigi Gorgeous and Jaymes Skendarian were correspondents.[21]

Since January 22, 2018, TRL was halved from a full hour to only a half-hour per day. The program then went on a hiatus until April 23, 2018.[22] Jackson left the show in 2018.

In February 2018, a half-hour late-night edition of TRL, Total Request LateNight was launched. The show aired Monday and Tuesday at 11 PM and was often an after-show for a preceding program. MTV announced plans to expand the show to three nights in the summer and four nights by the end of the year, but this never materialized.[23]

On April 23, 2018, MTV launched a pre-recorded, hour-long daily morning edition of TRL titled Total Request AM. The show aired at 8am and was hosted by Sway. Vinny from Jersey Shore was brought on as host for the week and the first guests were boy band PrettyMuch. The program featured the return of a top ten countdown focusing on a specific playlist (Monday Motivation being the first countdown).[23]

In 2019, saw another retooling and name change as TRL Top 10, which featured hosts Sway, Kevan Kenney and Jamila Mustafa.[24] An off-shoot of the program, Fresh Out Live, airs every Friday on MTV.[25][26]

Total Request AM logo


TRL became "appointment after-school TV, its studio at 1515 Broadway a pop-culture fishbowl where rabid teens could catch a glimpse of their favorite stars."[27] Debuting before social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, the show is considered one "of the first truly interactive television shows, utilizing the synergy of the internet and television to countdown the top music videos of the day."[28] Among the interactive features of TRL was the video shoutout, a 15-second video clip where fans could "appear, screen-within-screen, during the airing of a music video" screaming about their love for an artist or band.[29] Because TRL was initially filmed in an age before social media, the show was seen as "the last pure view of...big celebrities. You were getting unadulterated ego."[27] The show had a number of notably unscripted moments happen in studio, such as band members streaking or celebrities showing up unannounced.[27] Hanson, a frequent guest on TRL, said "Before you could see what an artist had for breakfast from Twitter, TRL was the place you were going to hear about it."[27]

TRL not only became "destination TV" for young people to get news on their favorite stars and on pop culture, but also became a place for viewers to stay updated with major world events as MTV News reporters would make regular appearances announcing news headlines. As MTV News correspondent SuChin Pak said, "For young people, TRL was not only where you got to see your rock idols and pop stars, but where you connected with the major events happening around the world, outside the small town you were living in."[27]

The show was likened to the millennial generation's version of American Bandstand or Soul Train,[27] averaging 853,000 viewers in 1999 according to Nielsen.[29] TRL is widely viewed as the show that launched the careers of many artists from the late 1990s and early 2000s. MTV News correspondent John Norris said, "It's an interesting debate whether NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Britney, Christina [Aguilera], Jessica [Simpson] and Good Charlotte would have had the careers they had without TRL."[27] Writing for Spin, Peter Gaston opined that TRL "helped keep the major labels afloat by boosting pop artists sales numbers on the Billboard charts."[30] TRL became a "must-stop on every celebrity's promotional itinerary."[29] Musicians themselves including Eminem and Britney Spears[31] would sometimes fill in for the hosts. The show was also the site of in-studio performances by big artists promoting album releases.[31]

Boy bandsEdit

Even though late ‘90s boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC released albums before TRL began in the fall of 1998, both groups only reached their commercial peaks after their videos were seen on TRL. In 1999, the Backstreet Boys' second LP, Millennium, achieved the highest first week sales ever from an LP at the time.[32]

In 2000, when NSYNC released their second LP No Strings Attached, they topped the Backstreet Boys' first week sales and set a record for first-week album sales that would last for 15 years until Adele’s 25 surpassed the record in 2015.[33] Fans numbering in the thousands stood outside TRL's studio to see NSYNC or Backstreet Boys appear as guests, resulting in the closure of Times Square.[34][27] Throughout most of 1998, 1999, and 2000, videos by the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC would claim the top position on the countdown.[35][36] Other boy bands of the era who achieved number one videos or received heavy rotation on the show included 98 Degrees, O-Town, B2K, soulDecision,[36] and LFO.[37]

Pop princessesEdit

Pop singers like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson all made their music debuts on TRL as well. Spears, Aguilera, and Simpson would often appear as guests and their music videos would receive regular airplay. Simpson’s video "Irresistible" reached number two on the countdown in 2001. Shakira made her English-language pop debut with "Whenever, Wherever", and saw regular number one spot status with the songs "Objection (Tango)", "La Tortura" (the first only Spanish-speaking song to reach number one on the countdown), and "Hips Don't Lie". Mandy Moore saw success on the show with her debut single's "Candy" in 1999 and "I Wanna Be with You", but did not score her first number-one video until her 2002 single "Crush".

Jessica Simpson's younger sister Ashlee Simpson is another pop singer that has had success on TRL. Ashlee would go on to score three videos in the number one spot with "Pieces of Me", "Boyfriend" and "Invisible." The artist with the most retired videos is Britney Spears with 13 videos retired, an honorary retired video ("I'm a Slave 4 U"), and three videos retired number one. A "pop princess" streak occurred in March 2007, where the number one and number two spots were women for every show. There was no other month in the history of TRL where every show had a woman at the top spot.[38][39]

Rock bandsEdit

Although best known for featuring pop acts, TRL regularly featured videos and performances from rock bands in genres such as nu metal, pop punk and emo pop. The nu metal/rap metal bands Korn and Limp Bizkit were particularly popular on the program in the late 1990s, and often shared airtime with Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys.[40] In later years, Green Day, Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy and Sum 41 also were successful on the TRL chart.[41]

Disney starsEdit

Vanessa Hudgens premiered "Come Back to Me", which peaked at number three, and "Say OK", which only went to number ten. The Jonas Brothers premiered their songs "Hold On" and "SOS" on the show; "SOS" made it on the countdown peaking at number six. "When You Look Me in the Eyes" was on the charts for several weeks before peaking at number one, after fans crushed and flooded the TRL site by requesting the video hundreds of times on March 19, 2008.[42] "Burnin' Up" has also made it to the number-one spot on TRL. Ashley Tisdale premiered "He Said She Said" on TRL and it reached the number-one spot for 16 days and was retired at 40 days in the countdown, becoming the most successful song for a Disney recording artist in the show. Aly & AJ's videos for "Rush", "Chemicals React" and "Potential Breakup Song" have all been on the countdown with "Rush" peaking at number two and "Chemicals React" peaking at number four, and "Potential Breakup Song" peaking at number five. Miley Cyrus's "7 Things" premiered on TRL and reached number four on the show.

Video gameEdit

A PC video game called MTV Total Request Live Trivia was developed by Hypnotix and published by Take-Two Interactive, with a release on August 14, 2001. GameRankings rates it at 53.89% acclaim,[43] with a 48/100 grade from Metacritic.[44]

International versionsEdit

Past programsEdit

  • The first version of TRL outside the US was in Italy. Started on MTV Italy on 2 November 1999, it was hosted by Marco Maccarini and Giorgia Surina, followed by Federico Russo and Carolina Di Domenico. Since the 2005–06 season, Surina returned to TRL with a new co-host, Alessandro Cattelan. After the 2005–06 season, the show was hosted only by Alessandro Cattelan. For the 2007–08 season, the show was hosted for the first moment by Alessandro Cattelan and Elena Santarelli, and for the summer, the male host was replaced by Carlo Pastore. Later Carlo Pastore was still the main host, but the female host changed to Elisabetta Canalis. Throughout its eight seasons, TRL was broadcast from Milan, Rome, Venice, Naples, Genoa and Turin. TRL Italy is the longest-running show on MTV Italy: on 23 December 2004, a special two-hour event, "TRL #1000", was aired to celebrate the programme's 1000th episode. From 2006 to 2012, there was also a award programme called TRL Awards where the people choose the artist of the year via web or mobile, and in the summer of 2007 was aired a special weekly-appointment called TRL Extra Live, who best-known Italian singers did a mini-concert. The final version of the programme was hosted by Brenda Lodigiani, Alessandro Arcodia, Wintana Rezene and Andrea Cadioli, under the name TRL on the Road, and ended on 24 September 2010.
TRL logo used in Italy.
  • MTV România launched the Romanian version of TRL from an Orange concept store on Calea Victoriei (a major commercial avenue in the centre of Bucharest) on 23 January 2006.[50] The show aired two times a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday. The graphic was similar to that of the Italian version. The show has closed during 2009.
  • The British version, known as TRL UK, was hosted by Dave Berry, Alex Zane, Jo Good, and Maxine Akhtar. It was broadcast live from MTV Networks Europe Studios in Camden, London, then moving to Leicester Square in London from second series. Following the second series' broadcast from Leicester Square, the top ten countdown was removed from the show. The second series finished at the end of 2005 and the show never returned to air.
  • The Australian version of TRL began as a weekend show, but then began aired live Monday through Friday. It was hosted by Maz Compton, Lyndsey Rodrigues, Nathan Sapsford, and Jason Robert Dundas. In early 2006, it returned to airing only on Friday evenings. The show was cancelled at the end of 2006 and was replaced by "The Lair". A revival of TRL returned in 2019. It is hosted by Ash London, Angus O'Loughlin, Flex Mami, and Lisa Hamilton.
  • After a Polish version of TRL was unsuccessful, MTV Poland decided to launch a new chart show based on TRL's structure titled RMF MAXXX Hits, which aired from Monday to Saturday at 2 p.m.
  • MTV France has launched the French version (Ton Request Live) of the US show on 24 January 2007. The format was different from the original concept: there wasn't the countdown with the ten favourite videos and in every episode there was a film's mini-documentaries entitled "TRL en Movies". The show closed after only an episode on 25 January 2007 and it has cancelled from the schedule of MTV France.
  • The German version of TRL was very successful throughout Europe (after Italy), and it was known as Total Request Live Germany. TRL Germany had the highest television ratings of all the TRL versions in Europe. The show was hosted by Joko Winterscheidt and Mirjam Weichselbraun or Patrice Bouédibéla from Tuesday to Friday from 4.30 to 5.30 pm, and it was divided in four versions: Urban TRL (hip-hop music), Rock TRL (rock music), regular TRL (various genres), and TRL XXL (special live guest). It was replaced with MTV Home in Summer 2009.
  • In Brazil, MTV aired a show similar to TRL known as Disk MTV. This programme was created before TRL, existing since the launch of MTV Brasil in 1990, and has never changed its format as a top ten request show over the years. It aired weekdays from 6.00 to 7.00 pm, and had a weekly sister show, Top 20 Brasil, aired on weekends and compiling the 20 most requested videos through the week. On 29 December 2006, MTV Brasil aired the last Disk MTV episode. It had a week-long special about the best videos of its sixteen-year run; the final video shown in the programme was Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". The show was cut due to the decision of network of not airing music videos on its 2007 schedule, claiming that videos are something that can be viewed online on their Overdrive website. The TRL rankings were also aired on MTV Brasil, in the show Top 10 EUA, also on weekends.

Similar programsEdit

  • In Latin America, a version of TRL called Los 10+ Pedidos (The 10 Most Requested) airs daily. The show is hosted by "Gabo" and "Macarena".[51]
  • MTV Tr3s, a US channel targeted to bilingual Latino people, premiered as Mi TRL in September 2006. The show carried the same format and graphics as the English-language version of TRL. Mi TRL was initially anchored by Carlos Santos and Susie Castillo. Since then, Castillo has been with another VJ, Denise Ramerez. MTV News segments on the show are delivered from Los Angeles by correspondent Liz Hernandez.
  • Viacom's sister channel BET featured its own urban-oriented countdown, 106 & Park, and the two shows frequently competed with one another for guests, though by the end of the run of TRL, both shows aired with some space between them, allowing guests to appear on both shows on the same day.
  • TeenNick featured a kid-friendly rendition of TRL called TeenNick Top 10.

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit