11:20am PDT, Mar 24, 2021
It was the golden age of pop! Back in 1998, MTV launched the insanely successful “Total Request Live” — and teens of the decade were hooked! Every afternoon right after school, kids tuned in to see their favorite stars stop by as Carson Daly counted down the top music videos of the day. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look back at the biggest stars of “TRL” then and now… First up is the reigning queen of the countdown — Britney Spears! The singer — pictured here with Carson in 2001 — took the top spot on the show 87 times and her video for “…Baby One More Time” came in at No. 1 on the show’s series finale, which ranked the most iconic “TRL” videos of all time. Keep reading to see Britney today and take a look back at more of your favorite stars back in the day vs. now…
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Britney Spears released her ninth studio album, “Glory,” in 2016, and from 2013 to 2017 performed in her own successful Las Vegas residency. In 2018, she embarked on her most recent live shows on her “Piece of Me” tour. Since then, she’s taken a step back from performing and has made headlines more often for news concerning her conservatorship, which her father, Jamie Spears, began overseeing in 2008 amid the pop star’s mental health crisis. In February 2021, the #FreeBritney movement of recent years made headlines again after the singer was the focus of a New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears,” which further explored her mental health, treatment by others early in her career and the terms of her conservatorship over the last decade.
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“And the No. 1 video on ‘TRL’ belongs to… Christina Aguilera!” That phrase was certainly uttered a lot on the MTV show, as Xtina won the coveted top spot 82 times over the years. Shown here at an appearance on the show in 2002, the star went through multiple image and music overhauls (“Come On Over” to “Dirrty,” anyone?) before fans’ eyes.
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Christina Aguilera went on to release eight studio albums in total — her latest being 2018’s “Liberation” — and dabbled in acting on both the big screen (“Burlesque”) and the small screen (“Nashville”) before joining the world of reality singing competitions and signing on as a coach on “The Voice” in 2011. She embarked on “The X Tour” in 2019 and performed in her own Las Vegas residency, “The Xperience,” from 2019 to 2020. In 2020, she released the track “Loyal Brave True” from Disney’s live-action “Mulan” film, for which she also re-recorded her hit song “Reflection” from the original 1998 animated version.
One of the biggest heartthrobs of the late ’90s and ’00s? Justin Timberlake. Whether as a member of *NSYNC or as a solo artist, there was always a spot on “Total Request Live” for the superstar. With smash hits like “Bye Bye Bye,” “Pop” and “Girlfriend,” *NSYNC topped the “TRL” charts a whopping 165 times. Solo Justin fared pretty well on the daily countdown show too, scoring the No. 1 spot 73 times!
Justin Timberlake still has a solo singing career but also dabbles in acting (“The Social Network,” “Friends with Benefits”) and voice-over work. He lent his voice to the lead character in the 2016 film “Trolls” and earned an Oscar nomination for the film’s big song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” In 2020, Justin reprised his voice role in “Trolls World Tour” – and quietly welcomed his second son with wife Jessica Biel — and in 2021, he starred in the drama “Palmers.”
The kings of “TRL”? That unofficial title goes to the Backstreet Boys, who hit the coveted No. 1 spot 187 times during the show’s run with songs like “I Want it That Way,” “Larger Than Life” and “Drowning.” The guys — A.J. McLean, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, pictured visiting the “TRL” studios in 2005 — stopped by many times to rile up fans in New York City’s Times Square.
The Backstreet Boys are still performing! In promotion of their ninth studio album, “DNA,” which was released in 2019, the guys hit the road for their “DNA” world tour” which — after being put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic — is expected to resume in 2021. Meanwhile, with live concerts on hold, A.J. McLean competed on season 29 of “Dancing With the Stars” in the fall of 2020.
Jennifer Lopez held the top spot on “Total Request Live” six times and even accomplished the feat with one of the only Spanish-language songs to ever grace the countdown (her tune “Que Hiciste”). She’s seen here stopping by the show in 2002.
Jennifer Lopez is still a massive superstar who continues to thrive as a multi-hyphenate entertainer — and boy is she busy! In more recent years, she’s served as the executive producer and star of the NBC drama “Shades of Blue,” executive produced and judged on NBC’s “World of Dance” and performed in the Las Vegas residency “All I Have.” In 2019, she starred in and co-produced the crime drama “Hustlers,” for which she earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for best supporting actress. In addition to 2022’s “Marry Me,” she’ll also appear in the films “Shotgun Wedding,” “The Godmother” and “The Mother.” In 2019, she got engaged to MLB legend Alex Rodriguez. The couple endured a rough patch in early 2021 in the wake of his bad behavior scandal involving “Southern Charm” star Madison LeCroy.
Mandy Moore, pictured here on “TRL” in 2002, only took the top spot three times — but she was certainly a “TRL” darling. As one of the big pop princesses of the decade (along with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson), Mandy was a prominent presence on the countdown.
Since topping the “TRL” charts, Mandy Moore has transformed her career. She found success on the big screen in the ’00s in flicks like “A Walk to Remember” and “The Princess Diaries” and in recent years has enjoyed a resurgence with her hit television show “This Is Us.” Her seventh studio album, “Silver Landings,” was released in 2020. In February 2021, she gave birth to her first child, son August Harrison, with husband Taylor Goldsmith.
Katy Perry was late to the “TRL” scene since her hit song “I Kissed a Girl” came out in 2008 — but she still managed to leave her mark on the show. She topped the list with that one 19 times before the show ended later that year.
Katy Perry continues to churn out music, with her most recent album, “Smile,” debuting in August 2020. That same month, the pop star — who also joined the judging panel on “American Idol” — gave birth to her first child, daughter Daisy Dove Bloom, whom she shares with fiancé Orlando Bloom.
Taylor Swift also just barely made the “Total Request Live” era cut. Though she never scored a No.1 video, she stopped by the show in 2008 to sing her hit “Teardrops on My Guitar” and to share that she once snuck onto the set with a friend while Hilary Duff was on the show.
Taylor Swift would undoubtedly hold a record for No. 1 videos on “TRL” these days if the show was still around. Her seventh studio album, “Lover,” came out in 2019. She followed it with the surprise release of her eighth and ninth albums, “folklore” and “evermore,” which debuted amidst the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Her documentary “Miss Americana” also debuted in 2020. At the 2021 Grammy Awards, Taylor won album of the year for “folklore,” making history: She’s the first female artist to take home the honor three times.
Rihanna’s “Total Request Live” legacy? Topping the countdown an incredible 49 times with hits like “Disturbia” and “Unfaithful.” She’s seen here stopping by the show in 2005 at the very beginning of her career.
Since her “TRL” days, Rihanna has become a bona fide superstar and one of the bestselling artists of all time. While fans continue to await new music from the multi-hyphenate, Rihanna has since shifted gears toward business: She launched Fenty Beauty in 2017 followed by the lingerie line Savage x Fenty in 2018. In 2019, she debuted her Fenty fashion brand and in 2020, her Fenty Skin line went on sale.
A pint-sized Miley Cyrus stopped by the “Total Request Live” studios in 2006. Though young Miley didn’t ever score a No.1 music video on the show, things would certainly be different these days…
Miley Cyrus has reinvented herself numerous times since making her first “TRL” appearance. In November 2020, she released her seventh studio album, “Plastic Hearts,” which includes the singles “Midnight Sky” and “Prisoner.”
Mariah Carey had some legendary “TRL” moments through the years (including that infamous meltdown in 2001), but it wasn’t all drama. The star, seen here at the show in 2005, topped the show’s countdown 35 times during its run.
Mariah Carey has certainly had an interesting career since “TRL” went off the air. In 2018, she released her 15th studio album, “Caution,” and embarked on a world tour a year later. In February 2020, Mariah concluded her Las Vegas residency, “The Butterfly Returns.” The mother of two’s juicy memoir, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” was released in September 2020. She debuted the compilation album “The Rarities” a month later.
We first met this lady on “Total Request Live” as Beyonce Knowles, a member of Destiny’s Child. That group scored the No. 1 slot 12 times at the beginning of the show’s run, but Beyonce’s reign was far from over! Once she went solo, she returned to grab that top spot 47 times!
The whole world knows where Beyonce Knowles ended up — on the top of the charts as a true superstar. Her album “Lemonade” earned Bey an impressive accolade, making her the first artist to have his or her first six studio albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Queen Bey has since moved into filmmaking: She directed, produced and starred in the 2019 concert film “Homecoming,” which chronicled her 2018 Coachella performances, and wrote, directed and executive produced the 2020 musical film “Black Is King.” At the 2021 Grammy Awards, Bey made history as the most-awarded female artist in Grammys history when she took home her 28th trophy.
Like his future wife, rapper JAY-Z made quite a few appearances on MTV’s “Total Request Live,” including this one in 2003. His songs like “Umbrella” with Rihanna and “Crazy in Love” with Beyonce were voted to the top spot 31 times during the show’s run.
JAY-Z is just as major of a player in hip hop today as he was back in the “TRL” days. Though he hasn’t put out much music recently, he’s turned himself into a mogul by expanding in other areas, including a clothing line (Rocawear), a sports bar and lounge (The 40/40 Club) and a music streaming service (Tidal). Forbes has estimated his net worth at $1.4 billion. His latest album, “4:44,” was released in 2017.
Lindsay Lohan’s career exploded during the glory days of “TRL.” She’s seen here on the show in 2004, the same year her album “Speak” was released. Videos for her tunes “Rumors” and “Over” reached the peak spot on the countdown show 14 times.
Lindsay Lohan is still in the public eye, but her career has cooled off since those days in MTV’s Times Square studios. She’s made a few TV movies and starred on a docuseries about her troubled life that aired on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network back in 2014. From January to March 2019, Lindsay was back on MTV as the star of the reality series “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club,” which centered on her management of her Mykonos-based club. In April 2020, Lindsay — who’s been based in Europe or Dubai in recent years — released the single “Back to Me.”
The youngest member of the Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas, was no stranger to the “TRL” set. His band caused quite the commotion whenever they’d stop by the show, including during this visit in 2006.
Nick Jonas would certainly be a “TRL” superstar these days if the show was still around! Following the Jonas Brothers’ split in 2013, Nick found success in acting and with a solo singing career thanks to hits like “Chains” and “Jealous.” He reunited with brothers Joe Jonas and Kevin Jonas to bring back the Jonas Brothers in 2019. The band’s fifth studio album, “Happiness Begins,” debuted that same year. In 2020, the Jonas Brothers earned a Grammy nomination for best pop duo/group performance for their single “Sucker.” That October, they released the single “I Need You Christmas.”
Hilary Duff not only appeared on MTV’s “Total Request Live” — she once hosted! Her music in the ’00s was also voted into the top slot 19 times over the years thanks to hits like “So Yesterday” and “Fly.”
Hilary Duff transitioned back into acting after enjoying some success in the music world. She scored a hit with the TV Land series “Younger,” on which she’s starred since 2015. In 2019, she married music producer Matthew Koma, with whom she shares daughter Banks (their second child is due in 2021). She’s also a mom to son Luca with ex-husband Mike Comrie.
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs made many appearances on “Total Request Live” over the years — 38 to be exact! His most iconic? When he stopped by while training for the New York City Marathon — and never stopped training!
Though he hasn’t put out much music in the last decade, in 2019, Forbes reported Sean “Diddy” Combs’ net worth at a cool $740 million. Diddy has his hands in multiple industries including liquor (Ciroc and DeLeon tequila), water (Aquahydrate) and media (the Revolt network).
Ashlee Simpson made her mark on the MTV world back in the day, stepping out of sister Jessica Simpson’s shadow in the ’00s. Not only did she have her own show on the network (“The Ashlee Simpson Show,” which ran from 2004 to 2005), but she also made plenty of appearances on “TRL” thanks to her hits like “Pieces of Me” and “Boyfriend.” Her songs landed in the top spot 19 times!
After her music career slowed down, Ashlee Simpson transitioned into acting, starring on the reboot of “Melrose Place” and performing on Broadway. In 2018, she returned to reality TV with the E! series “Ashlee + Evan” alongside second husband Evan Ross. In October 2020, she gave birth to their second child, Ziggy Blu.
Shakira hit the American music scene in 2001 and became a fixture on “Total Request Live.” She had three different songs hit the No. 1 spot 10 times!
Shakira is still a superstar! She released her 11th studio album, “El Dorado,” in 2017 and, like some other famous “TRL” faces, also served as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice.” In February 2020, the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer took the stage alongside Jennifer Lopez to perform during the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, which became YouTube’s most viewed halftime show ever at the time!
Kelly Clarkson won the first season of “American Idol” in 2002 and became an overnight superstar! In the next six years that “TRL” aired, she amassed a majorly impressive 109 No. 1 videos on the show.
Hitmaker Kelly Clarkson released her eighth studio album, “Meaning of Life,” in 2017. In addition to joining the cast of “The Voice” as a coach in 2017, she became the host of her very own daytime talk show, “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in 2019, for which she earned three Daytime Emmy Awards in 2020. In 2021, she’ll receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Enrique Iglesias was part of the Latin music boom in the early ’00s — and he also became a fixture on “Total Request Live.” The singer landed in the top spot with his song “Escape” 11 times.
These days, Enrique Iglesias is still making music in both Spanish and English. His most recent album — his 10th studio album, 2014’s “Sex and Love” — was Spotify’s seventh most streamed album in the world the year it came out. He’s since released a handful of very successful singles and continued to tour. In 2021, Enrique — who’s welcomed three kids with longtime love Anna Kournikova in recent years — will co-headline a tour with fellow hitmaker Ricky Martin.
Jessica Simpson was an MTV darling in the ’00s thanks to her hit show “Newlyweds” and her very “TRL”-friendly music career. Strangely enough, although her sister hit the top spot often, Jessica’s videos got plenty of airtime on the countdown but never made it to No. 1 on the show!
Though it may not have seemed possible thanks to her notorious “Chicken of the Sea” comments early in her reality TV career, Jessica Simpson eventually turned into a mogul. The star launched her own label, the Jessica Simpson Collection, in 2005 and a decade later, the brand was valued at $1 billion, making it one of the most successful celebrity lines of all time. In 2020, Jessica released the memoir “Open Book,” which became a New York Times best seller.
Nick Lachey certainly had an interesting run during the “Total Request Live” era. His first appearances on the show were with his boy band, 98 Degrees, which hit No. 1 three times with videos for “The Hardest Thing” and “I Do (Cherish You).” Once the group took a break, Nick became an MTV mainstay thanks to his reality show, “Newlyweds,” with then-wife Jessica Simpson. Then he tried his hand at a solo career. It didn’t find traction until his marriage dissolved and he released his heartbreaking album “What’s Left of Me.” Though the lead single of the same name never hit No. 1 on “TRL,” it did have another interesting tie to the show: He cast “TRL” host Vanessa Minnillo in its music video!
Nick Lachey can credit MTV for the end of one relationship and the start of another! After having Vanessa Minnillo star in his first solo video, the two went on to marry. Once Nick’s solo career fizzled, he moved on to television, hosting ABC’s “The Sing-Off” from 2009 to 2014 and the morning show “Big Morning Buzz Live” from 2012 to 2015. In 2020, he co-hosted the Netflix dating show “Love is Blind” with wife Vanessa, with whom he shares three kids.
A young Alicia Keys appeared on MTV’s “Total Request Live” back in 2003, but she wouldn’t top the countdown for a few more years. Her hit “No One” earned that honor 15 times!
Alicia Keys is still making beautiful music! The star’s seventh album, “Alicia,” was released in September 2020 and includes the singles “Perfect Way to Die,” “So Done” and “Love Looks Better.” She’s also been a coach on “The Voice.”
Gwen Stefani has been the lead singer for No Doubt since the mid-’80s, and her band made a few appearances on “TRL” before Gwen tried her hand at a solo career. Tunes from her first two solo albums, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” and “The Sweet Escape,” were often fixtures on the countdown.
Gwen Stefani hasn’t left Hollywood since the “TRL” era. The pop star has released plenty of new music in recent years as a solo artist and with love Blake Shelton, whom she started dating in 2015 after both of their marriages — hers to Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, his to country star Miranda Lambert — ended. (She and Blake got engaged in late 2020.) She’s also carved out a career for herself on television: Gwen joined the cast of — what else?! — “The Voice” as a coach in 2014. In 2016, she voiced the role of DJ Suki in the animated flick “Trolls.”
Pink burst on to the scene in the ’00s, just in time to be a “TRL” staple. The star’s music featured prominently on the countdown, but only hit the coveted No. 1 spot four times.
Pink’s success has only grown since her “TRL” days. She’s won three Grammys and released her eighth studio album, “Hurts 2B Human,” in 2019. In February 2021, she released a duet with daughter Willow Sage Hart, “Cover Me in Sunshine.”
50 Cent was a “Total Request Live” superstar who landed that prized No. 1 spot 42 times with smash hits like “Candy Shop” and “In Da Club.”
Like a lot of his fellow “TRL” rappers, 50 Cent didn’t limit himself to the music industry. He moved into acting, producing (including the Starz hit “Power”) and other business ventures like the beverage industry.
Avril Lavigne, who served as an antithesis to the pop princess parade, brought some edge to the “TRL” top 10 in the 2000s. She hit No. 1 29 times!
Avril Lavigne battled Lyme disease, which forced her to step back from music for a few years as she focused on her health. Now on the mend, Avril released her sixth studio album, “Head Above Water,” in 2019. She embarked on the “Head Above Water” tour that same year, her first in nearly five years. In January 2021, she released the track “Flames” in collaboration with boyfriend Mod Sun.
When folk artist Jewel went pop, she was welcomed on the “TRL” set with open arms. Though her tunes could never quite crack the top spot, she stopped by the studio often.
Jewel has continued to make music as well as appear on television. She competed on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2009, hosted the music reality show “Platinum Hit” in 2011, and served as an adviser on “The Voice” in 2012. In 2015, she released her 11th studio album, “Picking Up the Pieces,” which she produced herself.
Brandy and Monica’s hit “The Boy Is Mine” topped the music charts in 1998, the same year that MTV’s “Total Request Live” debuted. During its run, Brandy’s other big 2002 hit, “Full Moon,” was voted to the top of the countdown 10 times.
Brandy’s career continued to flourish in the ’00s. She sold more than 40 million records around the world, which solidified her as one of the bestselling female artists of all time. She made her Broadway debut in “Chicago” in 2015 and starred on the BET sitcom “Zoe Ever After” in 2016. July 2020 marked the release of her seventh studio album, “B7,” which received praise from critics.