TRL is a terrific place to get a daily update on the war, and like CNN war correspondent Wolf Blitzer, host Carson Daly is a steadfast and calming voice keeping panic at bay and the conflict in perspective. Carson, who resembles a thirty-year-old brunette Tin-Tin, takes the audience through the daily run-down of MTV's most requested videos, gleaned from telephone and e-mail polls. For each song, he wisely breaks down the percentage of e-mail votes versus those taken over the phone -- insuring the rabid fans that everything is on the up and up, and if there's a reason that Blink 182 hasn't hit the top spot, it's purely statistical rather than being a jealous plot concocted by evil MTV executives.
Though I'm sure MTV originally thought of TRL as a forum for a diverse variety of artists, these two warring factions have literally taken control of the show, unrelentingly voting for the same videos week after week after week. Carson often has to set time limits and eventually remove from the countdown acts which have overstayed their welcome -- much to furious howls of the group's fans. And like roaming packs of dogs, TRL fans are highly competitive. They ache to prove their love and undying loyalty to their idols. Fan websites, like those of Britney and boy-group newcomers, 98 Degrees, have direct links to the TRL site, admonishing their members to get their dreamboats into that coveted #1 position.
Meanwhile, the sense of anticipation on the show is palpable. Carson always appears slightly nervous, as if he's the last line of defense against the uncontrollable rage of a thousand scorned Joey McIntyre fans. And as much as Carson fears their rage, he is doubly afraid of something even more powerful -- the unstoppable hormones of a twelve-year-old girl. Hundreds of them are seen every day outside the TRL studios, holding up signs declaring their love for Carson and begging to be allowed inside the studio. There's little doubt these teens would do anything to gain access to this sanctum, and Carson knows it. Stuck in the uncomfortable position of being both dreamboat and big brother, the jittery Carson comes off as a TV version of Lolita's Humbert Humbert; doomed to look but never touch.
Regardless of the host's trepidation, the war between the teeny-boppers and the butt-rockers wages on, and if a winner was to be decided today, it would certainly be a rousing victory for the awkward beauty and undying loyalty of the squealing, braces-adorned Teen Beat set. Currently, seven out of the countdown's top ten are pop artists that the kiddies love; which include such Grranimal-creaming stars as Joey McIntyre, Britney Spears, her clone Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, their clone 'N Sync, and their clone, 98 Degrees. This should not surprise anyone who's had the opportunity to witness an intense 11-year-old girl scratching Ricky Martin's name into her thigh; there is no love as strong as prepubescent love.
For these kids, TRL is their home -- the place where they assume control. A world where the insistent nagging of parents and teachers are replaced by a new kind of democracy; one cobbled together by those who would elect officials based on hot butts or kickin' dance moves. So before we jump to pooh-pooh this '90s version of Lord of the Flies, let's remember who's going to be changing our colostomy bags one day. Or, as another young rabble rouser for democracy, Tommy Jefferson, once put it, "It is the multitude which possess force, and to that, wisdom must yield." In other words, if you can't beat 'emc'mon everybody! Let's make Backstreet Boys #1!! I ™ Nick Carter 4-Ever! Whooooo!!!
YOUR MUSIC TV LISTINGS FOR THE WEEK:
THURSDAY, AUGUST 511:35 CBS David Letterman: Dave welcomes mellow grrrl Sarah McLachlan.FRIDAY, AUGUST 64:00 KOMO Rosie O'Donnell: Featuring Neutrogena spokesgirl, fledgling singer, and blight on humanity, Jennifer Love Hewitt.SATURDAY, AUGUST 78:00 VH1 Hard Rock Live: Geriatric Latino rockers, Santana.
9:30 PBS Ray Charles in Concert: Perpetually entertaining Ray performs "I Got a Woman," "America, the Beautiful," and "Georgia on my Mind."MONDAY, AUGUST 911:00 a.m. 5 Donny & Marie: Featuring that really weird-looking Irish all-girl group, B*Witched.TUESDAY, AUGUST 1011:00 a.m. 5 Donny & Marie: Snoop Doggy Dogg must need a jobby-job if he's a guest on Donny & Marie.
5:00 KONG Howie Mandel: Howie welcomes Busta Rhymes. What is this? Bring-a-rap-star-to-work day?
9:00 PBS Earth, Wind & Fire in Concert: This concert from '98 includes perfect funk-pop confections "Shining Star," "Boogie Wonderland," and "September."WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1111:35 5 Jay Leno: Guest-starring Julian "Not quite as talented as me Pop" Lennon.AND COMING SOON...Blink 182, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Brandy, more... (8/12, The 1999 Teen Choice Awards, FOX)
Lyle Lovett (8/12, Jay Leno, NBC)
Buckcherry (8/13, Conan O'Brien, NBC)
Britney Spears (8/13, Donny & Marie, KING)
Beth Orton (8/14, Sessions at West 54th, PBS)
Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Will Smith, Master P, DMX & Ruff Ryders, more... (8/20, The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards, UPN)