5 Songs Made Famous by MTV Total Request Live

For those of a certain age, the letters TRL mean a great deal. The super-popular block of fan-voted songs and music videos on MTV known as Total Request Live, which launched in 1998 and was programmed for after-school viewing during the week, showcased some of the day’s biggest pop stars.

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It is impossible to underestimate the influence the show had, with new work popping up regularly from artists like *NSYNC to Will Smith to Mandy Moore. Below, we dive into five of the biggest names and five songs that MTV TRL made into global phenomenons.

[RELATED: 5 Classic Rock Songs Made Famous by MTV]

1. “My Name Is,” Eminem

Some may remember the day when host Carson Daly was explaining to viewers what they were about to see. The then up-and-coming Detroit rapper was backed by producer Dr. Dre when he made his TRL debut. Eminem unveiled “My Name Is” through the help of TRL. Needless to say, since then, Eminem has become perhaps the world’s No. 1 rapper. But in 1999 when TRL aired the video, he was an unknown quantity.

2. “…Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears

This song was practically made for TRL’s success. A beautiful new catchy female pop star releasing her debut single, the music video for which showed her in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit, bored out of her mind in class. Many reading this may remember the hubbub in their own high schools, all the boys and girls atwitter about what they’d seen on TRL from Britney Spears the day before. Who was that? What was that? With a single song and steamy tween video, Britney became the biggest name in music. Daly knew it, MTV knew it, TRL knew it, and then so did we.

3. “Genie in a Bottle,” Christina Aguilera

Just months after Britney released her debut single, another burgeoning teen pop star released hers. Christina Aguilera dropped “Genie in a Bottle” in 1999 and many eyes were transfixed on her shaking hips and writhing in the sand. The song was as catchy as anything on TRL. And Christina was an instant star. The only flaw was that it came after Britney, making her the second blonde pop starlet to the proverbial table, not the first.

4. “Larger Than Life,” Backstreet Boys

But let’s not forget the boy bands! Along with Britney and Christina, there were two battling boy bands in the late ’90s at the height of the TRL era and those were *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. Above all else from the Boy Band genre (and there were many offerings), “Larger Than Life” from Backstreet was, well, the most significant video. It was the culmination of several releases prior and the video, like the song title itself, proved to be the biggest hit. The 1999 song hit the sweet spot for TRL and the late 1990s adoration of boy bands and the Transformer-like costumes took everything over the top. The song broke the record for the longest-running No. 1 hit on TRL spending 57 days in the top position.

If pop-punk wasn’t a beloved genre by the time this 1999 song came out, Blink-182 made sure of the style’s status here. A trio of rockers running nude through city streets all while rebellious electric guitar chords were strummed? And there is the nurse from the band’s album cover wearing a revealing outfit? Sign nearly every single teenage boy and girl up for that one! That was what TRL specialized in: teen appetites. And for years it worked brilliantly. And Blink was very much at the center of it all.

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

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