Idolator Live-Blogs The “TRL” Finale: 1-800-DIAL-MTV, We Knew Ye When

noah | November 16, 2008 7:45 am

Tonight brings us the finale of MTV’s daily countdown show TRL, and MTV is pulling out a few stops to celebrate its end: A few live performances, a few interviews, a return to hosting duties by TRL OG Carson Daly. In some ways, this denouement was inevitable: The fizzy, sheeny, ever-expanding America that was epitomized by the rise of both the first Britney era and TRL some 10 years ago is all but over, what with a seemingly neverending bust ensuing and the concept of “popular music” being less popular than ever. But that doesn’t mean we can’t eulogize it, right? Full coverage begins after the jump.

7:46 p.m. A Carson Daly-hosted break during America’s Next Top Model reveals that Times Square is actually crowded! Well, actually, it’s not that crowded; half the crowd was just forced to stand in front of the Foot Locker across the street from 1515 Broadway so as to give the illusion of a New Year’s Eve-like (or even Obama win-esque) atmosphere.

7:51 p.m. Speaking of outside, apparently Fall Out Boy’s performance will be out in the Times Square chill. Any NYC Idolator readers want to head down there? (I’d go, but I’m pretty ensconsed up here on the Official Liveblogging Couch Of Late 2008, which, in case you’re wondering, is green and could probably fit three people. But I’m all alone, aw. Oh well, more egg nog for me!)

7:54 p.m. Has anyone ever commented on the anti-grammatical stance of Tyra Banks on ANTM? “You’re still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Model?” It just sounds so nightmarish to me, even layered over the Siobhan Donaghy record (which I am listening to in order to steel myself for the next three hours).

7:59 p.m. This eliminated girl’s clavicles could cut hair.

8:00 p.m. Aw, Carson Daly looked so pinchable in the old days. You know, when Times Square was all edgy and stuff?

8:01 p.m. I guess the show is opening with a countdown of top 10 TRL moments? And one of them includes… Britney performing “Me Against The Music.” And another is Stevie Wonder freestyling on the harmonica? This is very strange.

8:02 p.m. Beyonce is No. 1. Well, I guess we’re setting a “TRL‘s countdown never meant anything anyway” pattern early….

8:02 p.m. Ah, and of course, Beyonce is No. 1 because she’s the guest with the closest album-release date. But why is she not doing “Single Ladies”? This is the same error she made on last night’s SNL and on her album–leading with the balladry. It’s never a good idea. Every hard rock band in the late ’80s/early ’90s knew this, B.

8:04 p.m. This song is OK. But it works better in a “brooding in one’s room” context than a “surrounded by freaking-out teenagers and people who were teenagers around the time of TRL‘s debut” context. Although I will say that her band is pretty great.

8:05 p.m. And now “Single Ladies.” Alas, Sasha Fierce’s Krugerhand does not spontaneously generate when the two booty dancers show up.

8:06 p.m. Hey MTV director, chill out and just show the dancers, will you? Fosse-biting aside, this dance is one of the best bits of choreography we’re likely to see on a mass level in 2008.

8:07 p.m. This song is so, so good. Straight up.

8:08 p.m. And on to “Crazy In Love,” with a piped-in Jay-Z! But Beyonce is dancing her ass off and the MTV directors just can’t. Stop. Cutting. I could make a really crass self-mutilation joke here but I won’t. (I have to save something big for the last half-hour, right?)

8:09 p.m. Sway’s intro of Damien Fahey and Carson Daly just repeated itself before stopping, and now neither of the hosts microphones are on… Oh, this is kind of a mess already. So, um, who’s in the Sky Suite, guys?

8:10 p.m. Carson is waxing philosophical about how TRL is for the people. I guess “the people” includes “the label-employed street teams,” at least on an abstract level.

8:12 p.m. There are a lot of A-listers backstage, you guys! And a countdown of “10 videos that defined music videos and pop culture.” Because if there’s one thing that American music needs more of, it’s lists! Here’s No. 10 while Carson and Damien bro-hug: “Hey Ya!”

10. OutKast, “Hey Ya!”

8:13 p.m. “Importance” doesn’t mean that the whole video will be played and won’t be talked over, just FYI.

8:14 p.m. Overexposure at every public place in the early part of this decade aside, this song still owns. Hey, here are two of the chick VJs with Taylor Swift!

8:15 p.m. Taylor Swift has appointed herself Official Annoying Person Who Forces Everyone To Sign Her Yearbook of the TRL finale.

8:16 p.m. Thanks, Carson Daly, for reminding me once again that I’m old. Oh, but wait, the Backstreet Boys are too! Hooray.

8:17 p.m. The minute-by-minute breakdown of what’s coming up sure makes it easy for me to time bathroom breaks. (Also, it’s so bad local news–did TRL come up with this practice?)

8:19 p.m. This Drew Barrymore mascara ad is reminding me of this crazy eyelash-decoration technique that I saw in the new issue of Elle earlier today while I was getting my hair done (NB haircuts are the only time I read “girl” magazines, because I inevitably run out of stuff to read). It involved–wait for it–turning the mascara wand to a 90-degree angle and forcing your eyelashes to clump together in points. It was an homage to Antonioni’s Blow Up. No, really. Who says fashion can’t be about culture?

8:22 p.m. BREAKING: MILEY CYRUS ISN’T DEAD. SHE’S IN THE TRL PHOTOBOOTH. And making that dumb cheeks-sucked-in face.

8:22 p.m. And, um, here’s Travis Barker in his first post-plane-crash interview. (That’s kind of a weird coincidence, no?) He’s playing his drums again, which is nice.

8:23 p.m. I wonder if the people outside Foot Locker can hear Travis? I wonder if anyone has bought anything at Foot Locker?

8:24 p.m. Hey it’s No. 9! This one’s for Kate!

9. Blink-182, “What’s My Age Again”

8:25 p.m. Diddy’s Greatest Moments = Bathroom Breaks’ Greatest Opportunities?

8:26 p.m. Ah, the days of the World Premiere Video. I got sort of nostalgic the other day when catching that Matthew Sweet clip that incorporated the world premiere of “Ugly Truth Rock,” remembering all the times I’d set the VCR for post-drama club watching.

8:28 p.m. Diddy is crying. Or acting-crying. He is also wearing a leather coat that seems to have been excavated from Wilson’s Leather ca. 1993.

8:29 p.m. One thing’s for sure: MySpace Music is getting a lot of free ad time tonight.

8:30 p.m. Carson Daly: “There’s so much more show.” Yes. Yes, there is.

8:31 p.m. “A-Punk” selling Paris Hilton? I guess there have been weirder culture clashes this year. Maybe. Ah, whatever, they’re all rich, right?

8:35 p.m. Ben Stiller’s whole “I’m an arrogant asshole” schtick works a lot better when it’s couched in a Bono impersonation.

8:36 p.m. Carson is taking us into the guts of the MTV studios! Lots of running around is ensuing. Since everyone’s being self-indulgent, I will take a moment to let you all know that I have had my makeup done in one of these rooms. (I know, right?)

8:37 p.m. Vanessa Minillo is wearing a dress that looks to be fashioned from old American flags. And La La is there, too! Wow, they really brought out the big guns for tonight.

8:38 p.m. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember “Yeah!” because of its lyrics.

8. Usher ft. Ludacris and Lil Jon, “Yeah!”


8:40 p.m. Jesse is sad that he didn’t get to serve as one of Sasha Fierce’s backup dancers, and I think that’s a sentiment that we all can agree on.

8:41 p.m. Ah, 1998: When one geek’s capacity to wreak havoc on the Internet for the purpose of bringing the lulz was still relatively unplumbed.

8:42 p.m. One thing about tonight: It’s really kind of tame compared to other MTV bacchanalia. Everyone is very reverent. Christina Aguilera is talking about “thank[ing] God for the start of many things.” She is via satellite, but still, it’s all kind of… sedate? Maybe it’s the cultural moment seeping in.

8:44 p.m. “Amazing,” “energy,” “bask in it.” Blah blah blah.

8:47 p.m. Really hating these Secret ads about BO ruining the mood on a wedding night. I’m sure there are like 5,000 other things leading up to that moment that could be dealbreakers, for serious.

8:49 p.m. Vampire Weekend are showing the world that some people actually learn to ride a bike in college.

7. Beyonce ft. Jay-Z, “Crazy In Love”

8:50 p.m. There is a room with free booze? I am drinking cold coffee that I French pressed this morning. And people are mugging for the camera in the background. The life of a blogger, guys. It’s glamorous.

8:52 p.m. The “traffic jam” montage, which is probably causing many a cab driver to raise his hands and cheer this day.

8:54 p.m. Dave Holmes: “That was weirder than it looked.”

8:54 p.m. Fall Out Boy minus Wentz! Also, nice Fuck City stickers on the drums, Andy.

8:56 p.m. The band is on the lit-up bed of a truck, which I suppose is meant to replace the light-up guitars?

8:57 p.m. Whoops there they are! Uh, sorry, unfocused.

8:58 p.m. I am kind of jealous of Patrick Stump’s skin.

8:59 p.m. And Vanessa’s coat.

8:59 p.m. And anyone who got to hear songs from JC Chasez’s Kate that weren’t “Until Yesterday” or the song David Archuleta covered.

9:01 p.m. BURNING QUESTION: What will the recession do to the market for things like Neutrogena’s Vibrator For Your Face?

9:02 p.m. Jess, who is not watching TRL but who is concerned about my general mental well-being, checks in:

jessdolator: so do you get to do something else for a living now that this is all over? mauraatidolator: maybe i’ll get to write tampon ads mauraatidolator: since this one sucks jessdolator: i’m thinking talk show mauraatidolator: yeah? mauraatidolator: but who would talk to me jessdolator: in keeping with the grand post-trl tradition mauraatidolator: i could be the nu-donahue mauraatidolator: and say lots of things that the guests don’t understand mauraatidolator: (yes i watched ‘to die for’ last night)

9:04 p.m. Only “thousands” are outside in Times Square. Not even “tens of”? Times are tough, everybody.

9:04 p.m. 50 Cent is as of now a no-show? Oh, Curtis, you stay classy.

9:05 p.m. A montage of “good” live performances from years past is making me realize that this show is woefully Clarkson-deficient.

9:07 p.m. It’s Justin and JC! And they’re coming out to “Pop,” which I still pretty much totally love. Celebrity is a pretty OK pop record when you get right down to it.

9:07 p.m. Wow, an old shot of Justin dressed like the “Dick In A Box” dude for real.

9:09 p.m. Also getting a lot of free airtime: Planters peanuts. Hey, I’m hungry!

9:09 p.m. Hey Carson, it may be best to not bring up MTV-masterminded Super Bowls to Justin. Ahem.

9:10 p.m. More meetings of The Olds: Dave Holmes with Jonathan Davis! Jonathan Davis is wearing this hoodie that looks like it’s a black-and-white Magic Eye. The whole effect is very Sage Wizened Guy At The Comic Book Store.

9:12 p.m. Thinking of Korn, Kid Rock, and Limp Bizkit hanging out is making me think of what happened when Kid Rock hung out with Scott Stapp. Ick ick ick ick ickkkkk brb throwing up

9:14 p.m. Taking a break from the dry-heaving to commemorate possibly the final time that “violence” will be swapped out in favor of “Primus” on MTV.

9:17 p.m. Kid Rock is smoking and drinking indoors! Because he is such a fucking rebel! You guys!

9:18 p.m. And now he’s drawing attention to the fact that he won’t put his guitar out. What a fucking yutz. Sorry.

9:18 p.m. No wait, I’m not sorry! Because I can be a badass too. So there, everybody. So fucking there.

6. Kid Rock, “Bawitdaba”

9:20 p.m. And now, Kid Rock is pontificating on the relative diversity of music in 1998. And how we can all get along no matter what our individual tastes. Ah, Kid, you’ve convinced me. Maybe I won’t think you’re a yutz after all, you know? Let’s say that it’s in the spirit of “holding on for dear life as the ship that is ‘popular music’ finally capsizes.”

9:21 p.m. Everyone’s pilgrimages to the window are reminding me of reading about Catholic shrines during my childhood.

9:22 p.m. The MTV News contingent stops by: Sway with hat, Suchin with pretty dress, John with hairpiece. Oh, and it’s time for another in-show listicle! The Top Five MTV News Moments! Five–AJ goes to rehab; Four–Blink-182 breaks up; Three–Nick Carter gets popped by the po’ po; Two–Britney Spears files for divorce; One–Obama. I guess those other four were all there to set up for the Big Happy Sorta Optimistic Finish?

9:24 p.m. 9/11 gets its own special mention, complete with “Remember when Rudy Giuliani was only sorta creepy” video clip.

9:28 p.m. I should really know the name of this Frenchy song that’s airing under the anti-HPV ad, no?

9:30 p.m. Miley Cyrus is back in the photobooth. Instead of pulling up her shirt and showing her underwear, she is posing in sunglasses and chains in an effort to be like Snoop Dogg, I guess since these photos aren’t for her MySpace page.

9:32 p.m. “Diddy promotes himself”? I’m sorry, this is different from “Diddy speaks” how?

9:34 p.m. Diddy is now talking about his new fragrance. (It’s available at Macy’s!) And saving energy. Rock and roll, guys.

9:35 p.m. Here’s Ludacris. He also has an album coming out, you know. (He also has one of my favorite voices ever–it’s the way he rolls his rs in part, I think.)

9:37 p.m. And yet the incoherent editing and awful sound and somewhat anemic crowd response are kind of swallowing the proceedings.

9:37 p.m. Oh, poor Nelly, he has to lead with “Hot In Herre” so people remember who he is.

9:38 p.m. There was a six-month period in 2003 when my outgoing answering machine message was just my roommate at the time and me screaming “I WAS LIKE….” to any telemarketers who might be phoning.

9:39 p.m. No second song for Nelly; now it’s Snoop’s turn. He is totally Dropping It Like It Is Hot. Can a medley that ends with all three people singing one song really be considered “historic”? Is the hyperbolization of every second-rate bit in an effort to drive up ratings for shows like this part of the reason that culture seems so empty and people seem so worn out these days?

9:41 p.m. Carson: “That was something.” Translation: “They really haven’t figured out how to film a scene in a crowd since the 2007 VMAs, huh?”

9:44 p.m. Vampire Weekend: They hook up on the bus, just like the proles!

9:46 p.m. OK seriously I must have this HPV song on a French pop CD somewhere. Help me out guys!

9:47 p.m. So did they just dispense with this whole “top videos ever” countdown? We haven’t had an entry in about half an hour, and there are only about 43 minutes left…

9:49 p.m. For those of you who missed the ice-cream-cart-aided beginning of Mariah Carey’s early-decade breakdown, here it is! Because pop music has been all about chronicling the mental breakdowns of its biggest stars for much, much longer than Britney and Celebrity Rehab.

9:52 p.m. Hilary Duff still looks–and sounds–like she is about 15.

9:53 p.m. I think part of me knew that Christina Aguilera had a kid, but Carson Daly just saying to her “as a mom…” made me have a “whoa, old!” moment. (Also, she should can the red lipstick and go for the blush-gloss look more often.) Hey, speaking of coming of age:

5. Christina Aguilera, “Dirrty”

She was 21 years old when she made this, everybody. Just remember that the next time you think about having a daughter.

9:58 p.m. The countdown is coming fast and furious! Because there isn’t much time left!

4. N*Sync, “Bye Bye Bye”

9:59 p.m. And now we get to see what happens when it’s like when celebrities meet their celebrity crushes. Spoiler: It’s somehow more awkward than what happens when normal people meet their celebrity crushes. (Ahem.) Although that could be the whole “presence of cameras” thing. And the whole “both parties are mutually assured of their relative importance” thing.

10:00 p.m. Justin’s still tearing up (his heart) though.

10:01 p.m. Hey it’s Fall Out Boy again, along with Pete Wentz on a sorta-spazzy phone connection. Ashlee hasn’t had the baby yet, contrary to what the Internet might tell us. You guys all know that the Internet is wrong a lot, yes? Yes. It is. Trust me on this, please.

10:03 p.m. Patrick voted for one of the winners (hey they both won, right?) in that 1998 VJ contest. But I think he wasn’t the hacker… I think?

10:03 p.m. Hey Dan Gibson, FNMTV is coming back! And now Quddus is using the opportunity to promote some artist he’s producing? I guess everyone has to eat in the post-TRL landscape.

10:05 p.m. OK YOU GUYS SERIOUSLY WHAT IS THIS FRENCH SONG. Shazam doesn’t recognize it. The lyrics are un-Googleable. This is going to drive me crazy.

3. Backstreet Boys, “I Want It That Way”

10:09 p.m. OK everyone, let’s sing along.

10:10 p.m. OMG CARSON IS EDGY FOR SAYING ‘MOTHERFUCKER’ ON SEVEN SECOND DELAYED TV. Also, Samuel L. Jackson introducing… the Backstreet Boys? Um.

10:10 p.m. The whole crowd is singing along. TRL is really about the fans, you guys!

10:12 p.m. This song may be one of five ever to get away with the “fire / desire” rhyme scheme.

10:13 p.m. “I Want It That Way” really did define that whole era, didn’t it? Also ha ha at Nick Carter for claiming he remembers some of the people in the audience from The Old Days.

10:15 p.m. This is kind of sweet. I don’t think it’ll sell them any records, but it’s nice.

10:16 p.m. Carson is back in the bowels of the studio again! The Maddens are there, and apparently will be worth being talked to. They do have a remix record coming out, after all.

10:18 p.m. “Apologize” actually sounds much better in string-quartet form. Added bonus: No Timbaland “eh”-ing!

10:18 p.m. So is Pepsi the only company left with any advertising money? This “What Is Love” ad has been on every freaking break. And it’s old, so even they are hurting.

10:20 p.m. Seriously though, the ad breaks on this have been very interesting, in a “so this is who’s left” way. The many house ads (the Vampire Weekend spots, the OneRepublic ads, those HPV commercials that I still don’t know the song behind) and the repeated spots are enough to make one wonder what the ad landscape is going to be like once the holiday rush is over, and what the decline in ad budgets across the board will mean not just for channels like MTV, but all those extra ad-supported channels in the far reaches of the digital-cable universe. Ah, nothing like a little light Sunday-night pontificating, right?

10:22 p.m. I think Miley Cyrus grew fangs.

10:23 p.m. Eminem: Calling Carson Daly “buddy,” making an “I’m crushing your head” joke. He sounds pretty happy to be alive!

10:25 p.m. Eminem’s next album is coming out early next year! You heard it here, um, second.

10:25 p.m. The inspiration for this album is secret, too, unless you can deduce the multiple meanings of the word “relapse” that are in Em’s head.

2. Eminem, “The Real Slim Shady”

10:27 p.m. The date may be different, the time may be different, but the excited girls are all the same.

10:27 p.m. Hold up–Kathy Griffin was in this video??

10:28 p.m. Oh here’s 50 Cent, here to let people know that he has a single out. People didn’t care the first, second, or eighth time, Curtis.

10:29 p.m. Here is where I would ruminate on how Curtis’ brand of anti-charismatic “capitalism over everything else” personality was perfectly paired with the emptiness of this decade, but my hatred for dude’s lazy-ass flow is overriding my urge to think.

10:30 p.m. At the very least, this two-song montage pretty much proves why Scott Storch is currently having “issues” and Dr. Dre is just working on records.

10:33 p.m. Hahahha Carson Daly just referred to “Tony Banks.” Oh he is so dead.

10:33 p.m. 50 Cent is mourning the loss of “a platform to market and promote ourselves.” Never let it be said that dude isn’t a sentimentalist!

10:37 p.m. Ad break, ad break, ad break. Lots of video game and “personal care” ads. No ads for Viagra, Cialis, or anything that might get you drunk.

10:38 p.m. One reason I’m thinking about ads: I’m trying to be as much of a sentimentalist as Curtis. Another: This New York Times piece on how the cutback in sponsorship is affecting sports. I guarantee that reading that piece will enrich you much more than listening to the Madden brothers’ latest attempt at marketing themselves.

10:39 p.m. Madden On The Right is talking about how life is different after having kids. It really is like a high school reunion!

10:41 p.m. Justin looks sort of dazed–perhaps because he’s standing with YouTube sensation Esmee Denters! Although I love that he’s making fun of the brain-dead Australian girl, who just asked an inane question about “Internet ah-tists,” one last time. Do it for all of us, Justin.

10:43 p.m. And thanks to the wonders of YouTube and Justin Timberlake, you can see the difference between a girl in her bedroom and a girl in a studio.

10:43 p.m. Oh, Australian girl. I really think now is not the time to joke about layoffs at Viacom.

10:45 p.m. Sean Combs took up his page in the yearbook with every single one of his names. NB: It doesn’t look like he used “Robert Plant fill-in.”

10:46 p.m. Vampire Weekend: They’re Just Like Us!, Part XVI: They Also Like To Try And Recreate The Opening Of Ghostbusters!

10:48 p.m. The Googlers Of The World Demand Answers:

Oh, kids. I could talk your ear off about it. Maybe tomorrow? (Also, it’s worth noting that “Jesse Camp” is currently right behind “Miley Cyrus Dead” on Google’s current hit parade. Jesse, to borrow a phrase from another show, this is your now!)

10:51 p.m. Damien thinks Kid Rock’s cigar-wielding ways are “cool.” Hmm…

10:52 p.m. Aw, no Britney appearance. But that means more time for a big ol’ retrospective of all her videos! You know, “Drive Me Crazy” was crazy underrated. (Also, it should be noted that “Gimme More” is nowhere to be found.)

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

Really, she looks so… well, sort of innocent here. Even with the big basketball between her legs.

10:56 p.m. Well, there’s another anticlimactic finish to another MTV show. Everyone there has champagne (wait, does Taylor Swift have champagne?? SCANDAL!). Me, I still have my cold coffee and Carson’s doing a toast. Complete with LFO dis (me-ow!). I just tried calling 1-800-DIAL-MTV and the line was busy. Everyone’s waving at the window. It’s over! Jesse Camp has somehow transformed into a slightly older William Beckett! Good night, TRL. Good night, moon. Good night, sales of sparkly paint at stores in the greater New York City metropolitan era.