Oh boy band, have you heard the big news? Total Request Live is coming back, hopefully in all of its glory. MTV President Chris McCarthy recently told AdWeek that the iconic unscripted music show would return to screens this summer, almost a decade after it was canceled due to changing ratings and changing times and almost two decades after it premiered in the magical year of 1998. The reboot is part of a powerful drive by McCarthy to bring the youth back to MTV after too many years of the brand relying on reality television and straying further and further away from music.
“That ability to be live, in culture — not responding to it but driving it — is where we belong,” he told AdWeek.
McCarthy has been experimenting with live TV and throwbacks already — he’s the one who started broadcasting Friends reruns on MTV during primetime — and it’s been working so far. Turning the channel’s show Ridiculousness into a two-hour live block doubled its ratings.
But will the new TRL (which will tentatively be called MTV Live) be successful, and what will it even be like? Details are slim, and our imaginations have run wild. We know a few things for sure. There are a few things that have to go down if we’re going to sit down with bated breath and our after-school snacks like we did in 1998. Here’s our list.
It’s got to be in the Times Square studio
TRL fans knew every square inch of the New York studio where the show was filmed, and the really big fans can brag that they went to Times Square and hung around long enough to gaze up into the window during an episode — maybe even waving a sign. And good news: The studio is getting a huge makeover. According to AdWeek, the space will be twice as big, and it’s designed to accommodate all sorts of different setups, from intimate shots to big events.
Kids these days don't know how real it was to go watch TRL from Times Square @MTV
— Wolf Cola (@cloudywithAhigh) December 28, 2016
It’s got to have a great host
It’s like the chicken or the egg. Did TRL make Carson Daly great, or did Carson Daly make TRL great? It’s tough to know for sure, but we do know that the show definitely went downhill when Daly left in 2003 and was replaced by a forgettable string of hosts we can’t really clearly recall — at least not like we can recall Daly’s every expression and zip-up jacket. While we know Daly is busy now as a the host of The Voice and an anchor on Today (and also, he’s, like, 43), we also know that we are going to need a very special person to head up MTV Live. Don’t mess this up for us.
Carson Daly will always be the host of TRL to me.
— John C.L. Morgan (@jclmorgan) March 7, 2017
One word: Britney
If there was one person besides Carson Daly who defined TRL, it was Britney Spears. We can see her on the show now when we close our eyes, her tan abs peeking out from a half-shirt and her legs clad in some majorly ’90s-style denim. She was so important to the show that they played “…Baby One More Time” as the final credits rolled on the final episode. We fully understand that times have changed and Spears has gone through a lot in the last 10 years. But she is still out there making music and being awesome, so make room on your premiere. Toss in Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Pink, and we will get TRL tattoos on our foreheads.
OK, two words: Britney and Justin
If you’re going to have Britney back, why don’t you just go the whole way and invite Justin Timberlake back? the MTV Live studio is supposed to broadcast 3 to 4 hours of live television in a day. Surely you have a little time to make this happen. There are already rumors on the internet that they’ve recorded a song together. What better time and place to debut it than on the first episode on June 12?
It’s got to have weird cameos
So much of the beauty of TRL was that anything could happen. The format was pretty open and celebrities of all types loved to stop by, especially if they were promoting their newest movie/album/television show. Is (then-named) P. Diddy going to be running on a treadmill in the background for very little reason? Is Mariah Carey going to show up with Popsicles and strip? Who knows? If you want people, especially young people, to turn on a television instead of other choice screens, you’d better make it exciting and unpredictable.
— jon. (@jonreyes) February 9, 2017
It’s got to have requested music videos… or does it?
So, Total Request Live was ostensibly about fans requesting music videos — it was literally the name of the show. And yet all of our best memories of the show were about the segments in between the videos: the live performances, the interviews, the weirdness, Carson Daly looking uncomfortable. With a new name like MTV Live, and with music videos getting less and less play on TV with every passing year since 1992 or so, we aren’t holding out too much hope that VJs are going to be spinning too many reels. And we really don’t mind. As long as there are Popsicles and pop princesses.
More: Behind the Scenes on TRL