The Union Forever | Navigating the post-TRL Video World


Carson Daly. He delivered Britney Spears to the world. Thanks.

Everyone knows video killed the radio star, but I’m pretty sure video committed suicide with MTV playing the role of Jack Kevorkian. I’ll admit I was kind of pathetic when I was in grade school and I enjoyed getting off the bus and watching TRL. Seeing Carson Daly play chameleon to the flavor of the week guest was tolerable enough to enjoy the top ten pop videos as voted on by every 12-14 year old in New Jersey. Often I overhear jaded urbanites wonder aloud, “How the f*** is Britney Spears so famous?” or sometimes even, “I didn’t know Christina’s pimp allowed here to make videos,” or most terribly, “I wish [insert pop star here] would just die.” Now death is a strong sentiment to wish onto someone you have never met, but I can see their point. MTV has had a worse effect on our culture than CO2 emissions have had on our ozone.

From boy bands like The Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC to diva-sluts like Britney, Christina and the Simpson polycephaly, TRL has launched more corrosive careers than Helen of Troy launched ships. BUT, while all those greedy suits were planning episode after episode of Total Request Live, the busy bees of independent music were creating videos of their own. Some would be stolen from the hearts of the faithful (NIN’s Closer) while some would cater to the machine that suppressed them (every RHCP video). But among the many branches, some rare flowers managed to find daylight. They avoided the traps of MTV standards like close-ups of the lead singer (Bush, No Doubt) or imitating a classic film (Ja Rule, Ashanti) to create a work of art that stands up to the song and in some cases even adds to it. So, in the era of TRL (98-present) here are some videos that managed to remain true to themselves despite enormous pressure from money-makers to submit. LMB commends you, true warriors.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I stopped watching TRL when DMX appeared as a guest and Carson Daly did the half-bro-hug and said, “Yo, dawg, I’m really feeling your s*** right now.” Of course MTV bleeped out the word “s***,” but the damage was done. Even as a 12 year old I knew that Carson Daly did not feel what DMX was s***ting about. This is a man that was arrested at JFK airport coked out of his mind claiming to be a federal agent while stealing a car. No Carson Daly, you are not feeling this.


That’s a mug shot ladies and gentlemen. Do you think Carson took it?

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Radiohead – Karma Police (You Tube)

UNKLE ft. Thom Yorke – Rabbit in Your Headlights (You Tube)

Directed by Hype Williams

Busta Rhymes – Gimme Some Mo (You Tube)

Missy Elliot – The Rain (You Tube)

Directed by Spike Jonze
(Sorry, but none could be embedded, so here are links to their You Tube destinations.)

Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice (You Tube)

Tenacious D – Wonderboy [Spike Jonze as Marcus Von Bueler] (You Tube)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Y Control (You Tube)

Directed by Anton Corbijn

Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box (You Tube)

Joy Division (the fictional version) – A clip from the film, Control, directed by Corbijn (You Tube)

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Ferris

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight (You Tube)

Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (You Tube)

Obligatory acknowledgment of my crush on Fiona Apple montage

Fiona Apple – Criminal (You Tube)

Fiona Apple – Across the Universe (You Tube)

Fiona Apple’s You Tube Page