The Downfall of MTV


The image to the left is what MTV’s logo looked like back in the 90’s. Next to it is their logo now. See the difference? No more “Music Television” anymore.

MTV first started out a low-key cable station, but soon grew to be a world renowned music video based channel (“The History of MTV”). As all of us now know, there’s nothing “music” about it anymore. When you turn to MTV today, what do you see? The only music related thing on there now is when they host the annual VMA’s. Sure, you can hear songs throughout an episode of “Jersey Shore” that the network added themselves, and it’ll even say the song name and the artist at the bottom of the screen. Sadly, though, that’s it. MTV went through an entire process of changing, starting in the 80’s to now. During the 80’s and 90’s, though it started to air shows later, it was still heavily music based. However, none of us were born during that time. We are strictly 90’s babies (or so we claim ourselves to be), so we would remember the early 2000’s. Around this time is when TRL started, and when the MTV channel sadly started to diminish.

TRL (Total Request Live) first aired on September 14, 1998. It was hosted by Carson Daly and focused on the top 40 songs by the most popular artists in the country. Teens around the country everywhere would immediately come home from school and tune in to see if the video they voted for made it into the countdown. In 2002, when Carson Daly left the show, TRL began to slowly fade out, due to MTV’s continual drifting away from music (Jacobs). It finally ended in 2008 (who needs music videos anymore?), but has left its mark ever since due to MTV’s effort to keep music alive on their channel. 

The Backstreet Boys were #1 for their music videos and success in 1999, and this is them performing on TRL. Remember this?

This song came out in 2002 and quickly became the #1 song for a long time on TRL. Eminem dominated TRL, and many call it his “takeover.” The song “Without Me” is still known for being one of the more popular songs TRL ever focused on.

Now, things are totally different. As I’m sure most of you know, MTV is all about reality television, with an exception to its other TV programs, like the show Awkward, for example. The first reality program they aired was the show The Real World in 1992. Ever since then, they started to air more and more reality shows, and less and less music videos or music. One of the bigger and more controversial phases MTV has gone through is their “Teen Mom” phase, where some people argue that MTV positively highlights teen pregnancy. MTV has shied away from their original intent, to only showcasing the lives of “normal people” and transforming them into modern day celebrities. What happened, MTV? Will it ever go back to the way it was? No. What’s the point? Music is available to us from anywhere we essentially want, and that isn’t MTV’s only purpose now. MTV? How about RTV, for the reality we all know it really is.

Fast forward 10 years from 1999 when the Backstreet Boys performed on TRL, and what do you see? Not TRL. You’ll most likely see this:

Many people have the same reaction to the “new” MTV. Mainly, what happened? I interviewed a peer of mine, PJ, who also grew up watching MTV, and his interview is included in the podcast below:

PJ’s interview alone is here:

Works Cited

”Backstreet Boys- I Want It That Way (1999 TRL Live).” YouTube. YouTube, 07 Dec. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2013

Eminem. “Without Me.” The Eminem Show. Eminem, 2002. MP3.

“The History of MTV.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 July 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

Jacobs, Matthew. “Best ‘TRL’ Moments Recall Appearances From Mariah Carey, Britney Spears And More MTV Stars.” The Huffington Post., 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.

“Jersey Shore- Mike and Ronnie Fight.” YouTube. YouTube, 01 Aug. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.

N.d. Photograph. MTV Man on the Moon. The Inspiration Room, 18 Aug. 2009. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.

N.d. Photograph. There’s No Music Television in MTV’s New Logo. Flavorwire, 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.


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