Top 10 Videos That Defined The OG TRL

Today, a new generation of kids will be introduced to Total Request Live, a fan-voted music video countdown show on a network that’s become known for not showing music videos. Of course, for millions of millennials across the country, TRL is a trigger for a time in your life where you either watched it religiously, or didn’t give a shit about the most popular TV show amongst your peers.

For me, I fell into the first category, making it a point to be sitting in front of the TV home alone at 3:30pm, relaxing after school and hoping my faves would make the countdown. I taped it when I wasn’t home, voted multiple times on the phone and online, and true story: was even the “TRL Fan of the Week” in 2002. Carson Daly said my name, my profile was featured on the website, and I use it as the one-line bio for my internet profiles.

Carson Daly not only hosted the show and introduced all the videos, but he interviewed the hottest stars in not just music, but TV, movies and more in the heart of Times Square. Today, Carson is a permanent fixture a few blocks away at The Today Show and the hosts of the new TRL are DC Young Fly, Tamara Dhia, Amy Pham, Erik Zachary and Lawrence Jackson, who are all apparently people that would entice the kids to watch TRL. Oh, but that’s not all. The revamped TRL also includes “content creators” Liza Koshy and the Dolan Twins, while Eva Gutowski, Gabbie Hanna and Gigi Gorgeous will be the show’s social media correspondents. Because it’s 2017. Again, I had to vote for music videos via telephone.

I might be slightly out of touch with the youngins these days and not recognize a lot of the artists on TRL’s new countdown, but what I can tell you is that our TRL featured iconic artists and music videos that defined a generation. Here’s (my) list of top 10 videos that made a huge impact on the show and will always be remembered in the TRL era.

10 – Ricky Martin, Livin’ La Vida Loca

Ah, the song that introduced the Latin heartthrob to anyone that wasn’t a Menudo or General Hospital fan. He was sexy, his songs were catchy, and his bon bon shook that made women (and men) fall intro a trance. Livin’ La Vida Loca is arguably Ricky’s biggest hit, but it helped also reintroduce Latin music into the mainstream again, with stars like Marc Anthony, Shakira and Enrique Igelsias becoming chart-toppers too. The video was a staple on TRL and even won Best Pop Video and Best Dance Video (because there’s a lot of dancing?) at the ’99 VMAs.

9 – Limp Bizkit, Nookie

I admit it: I was a teenybopper. I had an aversion to rock bands (white guys), but jumped on the bandwagon if said rock bands were featured on TRL (or were liked by the boys I had crushes on in middle school). Nookie of course was one of Limp Bizkit’s biggest mainstream hits, but it was also their first number one video on the TRL chart, and I still think Carson Daly had something rigged to get his pal Fred Durst on the show.

8 – Destiny’s Child, Survivor

Destiny’s Child had been around long before Survivor – in fact, the first iteration with Letoya and Latavia made the rounds early on with hits like Say My Name and Bills, Bills, Bills but they hit the jackpot when Michelle came in and because DC3 as we know them today. Survivor was all about strong independent women, and the camo lewk was one that many teen girls attempted to create.

7 – Christina Aguilera, Come on Over

You know what MTV should actually reboot? Making the Video. I specifically remember Xtina giving us a behind-the-scenes look for this music video, which made it all the more exciting to watch when it was on TRL. This era was prime time for pop princesses like Christina, which is why it’s hard to choose just one for her on this list. Genie in a Bottle? Yup. What a Girl Wants. Yessir. Dirrrty? Mhm. I really miss the late 90s.

6 – Kid Rock, Bawitdaba

Listen, I hate that I have to even put Kid Rock anywhere on the blog but here we are. This song still makes no sense to me, but it was catchy and crossed the line of rock/metal/rap that the TRL generation hadn’t really seen before. It deserves a spot on this list, and now I’m done talking about Kid Rock.

5 – Blink 182, What’s My Age Again?

TRL was the accessible way for non-pop pop stars to make it in the mainstream, and Blink 182 took advantage of this by parodying all the pop stars who topped the TRL list. It was meta and it worked and was one of the most iconic videos (I know I keep saying that, but it’s true) of the TRL era.

4 – Britney Spears, Lucky

The real pop queen deserves multiple spots on this list, so like Christina, it was difficult to choose just one. Lucky featured Brit as a Hollywood star who, while she seemed happy, wealthy and healthy on the outside, wasn’t so much on the inside. #2007. I think this best describes the fame that came with her being one of the biggest stars to come out of the TRL era.

3 – Eminem, The Real Slim Shady

There weren’t many (if any) shows in the late 90s/early 2000s that allowed Eminem to be played next to Britney Spears in a daily countdown, but that was also the magic of TRL. Eminem (another one of Carson’s cronies) blew up during this time, and over the course of the decade the show was on, Em was number one nearly 100 times with various songs, so it was clear Slim Shady was the real deal.

2 – *NSYNC, Bye Bye Bye

I have only listened to Bye Bye Bye maybe like 10 times max in my entire life. Why? I was a teenybopper/Backstreet Boys fan who refused to hear *NSync’s biggest hit. I’d turn the station or channel any time it was on and have legit sat down at a wedding because it played at the reception (that happened this past June). But real recognized real. Boy bands dominated TRL, no more so that BSB and *NSync. I couldn’t tell you anything about this video because I’ve never watched it, but I CAN tell you I’m v familiar with the gif of JT as seen in the above still. V FAMILIAR WITH JT.

1 – Backstreet Boys, I Want It That Way

Am I biased? Yes. But am I wrong? Probably not. IWITW is easily the boys’ biggest hit and it was the song that started the mania. By the time their Millennium album released, IWITW was already a huge hit, and to celebrate, BSB took over TRL – and so did their fans who took over Times Square. It was insane. But it also showed the power that fans had over this show. TRL was ours. We felt like we had power in what we wanted to see on TV. We got to see our heroes either on TV or in person with some sort of weird ownership that we hadn’t felt before. And for the next generation’s sake, I hope they feel the same way too.

11 VMA Moments That Shaped My Adolescence

OMG U GUYZ THE MTV VMAS ARE THIS SUNDAY WHO ELSE IS EXCITED?!?!

Not me. But there was a time when that was me. When I was prime MTV target demographic, when I was impressionable and bought any artist that made it to the top 10 on TRL (see: Limp Bizkit and P.O.D. CDs in my childhood bedroom). Those formative years when I was a tween and eventual teen who was thriving at Backstreet Boys concerts and making websites on Geocities. Growing up, I was a teenybopper. I’m not gonna be ashamed about it. That’s just who I was. I was the girl who thought MTV was the coolest, the mecca of where all the celebs and musicians were featured. And the VMAs were my Super Bowl.

Back then, all my faves were either nominated, performing, or presenting, so it made sense that I was tuning in like a Michael Jackson popcorn GIF every year. And there were plenty of popcorn-GIF worthy moments that happened on the VMAs when I grew up. These are iconic and unforgettable performances – clips that takes me back to that time in my life when superstardom was out of reach and not a tweet away. Here are some of the MTV VMA moments that shaped my childhood. It’s crazy to think that Katy Perry and co. might have that same effect on tweens at this year’s ceremony. Guys, we are so old.

1994 ♦ Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley Make Out

Isn’t it weird to look back and think that the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s daughter was married to the King of Pop? Like, what even did they pay the music gods to get that love connection? Apparently not enough since their marriage didn’t last that long. However, this kiss is burned in my brain for eternity.

1995 ♦ Courtney Love bombs Madonna’s interview

I remember watching this live and having NO IDEA what was going on. But I don’t think Courtney Love did either. She wasn’t doing great at the time, but nevertheless, this is still rude. But alas, makes for great TV. Remember Kurt Loder? He is also part of my adolescence, which would be a weird thing to say to him IRL, I think.

1998 ♦ Mariah and Whitney Double Up

At the time this aired, I legit thought this was real. Like they definitely accidentally wore the same dress to the VMAs. I was concerned. Of course, it’s just a bit. I love bits. And I love Whitney Houston. Prince of Egypt forever.

1999 ♦ Diana Ross, Lil’ Kim and Lil Kim’s Lil’ Kim

Lil’ Kim’s outfit was outrageous then, and it continues to be even to this day. The 1999 VMAs were (and maybe continue to be?) my favorite VMAs ceremony of all time, and this is definitely one of the reasons why. I admit, I barely knew who Diana Ross was at the time, despite being obsessed with Phil Collins’ cover of The Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love. I didn’t know it was the same person! Anyways, I my mouth was agape when Diana bounced Lil’ Kim’s boob, and hoped that neither of my parents saw what had just happened as I watched the VMAs in our living room.

1999 ♦ Britney Spears and ‘N SYNC Take It Back To School

As I mentioned, 9.9.99 (it was on September 9th obvs) was a big year, particularly for pop music. It felt like it was at its height again, thanks to my boys BSB, Christina Aguilera, Britney, ‘N Sync, all the other boy bands, etc. This was one year after Tearin’ Up My Heart was released, but right around the time …Baby One More Time was becoming super popular. We all know the Britney/’N Sync relationship, but this was everything you could’ve wanted in a pop music performance on the VMAs. Singing, dancing, a school story, a surprise element of the ‘N Sync boys at the desks! As a BSB fan, I willingly admit this is and forever will be one of the best VMA performances in the show’s history.

1999 ♦ Backstreet Boys win the Viewer’s Choice VMA

As I mentioned, I am a BSB fan til the day I die, and 1999 was the height of BSB mania. Millennium had been released earlier that year, and the boys had basically shut down Times Square during their MTV special on release day. I was also at the height of my BSB mania, and voted non-stop in hopes they would win the Viewer’s Choice award against their rival (and mine), ‘N Sync. I remember jumping up and down, so ecstatic that “my” hard work paid off, and that my boys earned the much-deserved moonman. And yes, that white dude in the beginning pulled a Kanye before Kanye.

2000 ♦ Eminem and A Fuck Ton of Real Slim Shadys

Eminem also was a hot commodity in this era, releasing hit after hit after hit, including The Real Slim Shady. The song posits that there are many wannabes but only one Marshall Mathers, and because of that, he invited a whole lot of white guys in white t-shirts and jeans to be extras in his performance. Is this where my real fear of white men started? JK. A little.

2001 ♦ Britney and the Snake

I mean, obviously, right?

2002 ♦ Eminem vs. Moby and Christina Aguilera

Eminem wasn’t necessarily known to be a congenial person that got along with every artist that came across his path. He had beef with DJ Moby, which is why this awkward exchange with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog happened – right before Eminem won a moonman. Which as you can see from the clip, was handed to him by Christina Aguilera. If you recall, Em name-dropped Xtina in The Real Slim Shady, saying:

“Yo Shit, Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs
So I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst
And hear ’em argue over who she gave head to first
Little bitch, put me on blast on MTV
“Yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee!”
I should download her audio on MP3
And show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD”

Which makes this clip even more memorable (and chilly) thanks to the shade from Ms. Aguilera herself.

2003 ♦ Britney, Madonna and Christina, You Know

The Mickey Mouse Club Was nothing but a memory after this performance.

2011 ♦  Beyonce and Blue

This did not have a hold on my adolescence, but I was still very much awakened when B revealed she was preggo with Blue after singing Love on Top.

Questions, Comments & Concerns: Britney Ever After

It was bound to happen. It’s Britney on Lifetime, Bitch. If Saved By The Bell can have its own dramatized version of behind-the-scenes drama, obviously one of the biggest pop stars of our generation would get her own TV movie too. Over the weekend, Britney Ever After premiered, and it gave viewers a peek behind the stage lights and into her pop star lifestyle. From 1998 to 2015, it covers a lot of ground over her career, and no doubt did I have a lot of questions, comments and concerns about this film. Let’s dive right in to Lifetime’s Britney Ever After.

Concern: I’m already questioning the actress who’s playing Britney

I’d like to preface this post by saying I am a Britney fan. I have been since 1998, and her …Baby One More Time tour was the first ever concert I went to. I’ve seen her live multiple times and always pick her over Christina any day. This commentary is all coming from a place of love.

Now that that’s out of the way, the actress who plays Britney is Natasha Bassett, who is surprisingly Australian. Her Southern accent is not that great, but considering she’s not from the U.S., I’ll give her props for even sounding American. Don’t get me started on her mom Lynne (played by Nicole Oliver), who sounds more like a Georgia Belle instead of a backwoods Louisiana native. The acting from Natasha is already subpar. “I wanna be Britney Jean. I’m Britney Spears” Also her accent is… not good. And her mom’s accent is more George Belle as opposed to backwoods of Louisiana. Oh and Natasha’s acting is exactly what you’d expect from a Lifetime movie.

Comment: I’m excited Fe gets a prominent role in this

Any die hard Britney fan knows exactly who Fe aka Felicia Culotta is. She was a family friend long before she became Brit’s assistant back in the late 1990s, and was constantly by her side as she rose to fame. They had a falling out in 2007 (when Fe went to go work for the Jonas Brothers), and she is working for Brit again, so all is right with the world. In the movie, Fe’s storyline isn’t excessive or dramatic and pretty straightforward so she luckily didn’t get the shaft in the movie. As for other tertiary Brit posse, I’m kind of upset her backup dancer TJ didn’t get a role in Britney Ever After. I legit went to her Baby One More Time tour because I thought he was cute.

Question: Fake Justin actually sounds like Justin?

We’re introduced to Justin Timberlake when he meets up with Britney the first night she opens up for *NSync. As she’s standing on the stage looking out into the empty arena, he approaches in the shadows, so all we see is the outline of his ramen hair. But when fake Justin starts talking we KNOW it’s Justin because he actually does sound like real Justin and it’s a little freaky. The look however…

Concern: Britney’s dad seems too angry

Obviously we don’t know how he was IRL, but Jamie Spears is coming off like a real angry and frustrated asshole. I choose not to believe this characterization.

20 minutes later: He’s a “drunk” who gets angry and leaves whenever something mildly goes wrong… so this is obviously an asshole move, but is this really what he did?

Comment: The Most Disturbing Version of *NSync

*NSync featuring Fe AND TJ in the back!

The rest of *NSync doesn’t have a prominent role in Britney Ever After, but thankfully they do show up in a pivotal moment when they surprise her with an a cappella serenade and birthday cake. It is… a thing that happened.

“You’re one year older, girl” JT to Brit

Question: Did Britney and Justin really have their first kiss drunk and in front of a tour bus?

Slash have sex on her tour bus?! And he told her he loves her? All in the span of like 10 minutes?!

Question: Are we going to hear at least one real Britney song?

All the songs played in the film are fake pop songs that might as well be demos that Britney passed on when she was still trying to find a hit pre-Baby One More Time. The only songs we see her performing are covers of covers she recorded – EG:  Satisfaction and I Love Rock and Roll, which means it was such a blatant problem with getting the rights to her songs.

Instead of hits like Toxic and Womanizer being played in the background, we got to hear pop songs that included lyrics like, “I wanna feel you down with me/You know I’d do you right/You know we got all night/I wanna feel you down with me. RAP BREAK.” Did I mention this was during her wedding reception with Kevin Federline?

Question: Did Brit & Justin really get their nicknames from a ring?

JT gives her a ring after her performance at the 2000 VMAs and it only fits on her pinky finger. So he calls her Pinky. And she says, “Then I’ll just have to call you Stinky”. Is this really the origin story of these nicknames?! Brand new information. Also, very dumb.

Comment: This love montage looks like Brit & Justin’s Hello Magazine spread

Comment: OH SHIT WADE ROBSON

We’re introduced to choreographer Wade Robson as he grinds up on Brit during dance rehearsals and introduces her to Banana the snake for the famous Slave 4 U VMA performance. But also, if you don’t know, Wade is reportedly the guy Brit cheated on Justin with and the subject of JT’s Cry Me A River. Also a v good friend to both Brit and JT. Wade co-wrote Britney’s track What It’s Like To Be Me off her Britney album, and it was the only song she ever collaborated with Justin on (bonus clip: watch Justin mention Wade while talking about said track, after surprising her on a MTV special – around 3:45).

Later, Brit and Justin have a fight in a club (she told him he was slipping on the charts) and when she returns to her room crying, who’s there to cheer her up? Fucking WADE. And Justin finds out they (allegedly) slept together after finding from a doodle Wade made??? I hope that’s not how he found out.

Comment: Dancers Abound

There’s a montage of Brit auditioning dancers and it makes me think about how my hip hop teacher was a backup dancer in her Crazy video. True story.

Comment: Kudos for the exercise scene

Brit used to do like 500 sit ups every day, which is why the montage of her crazily exercising in her room probably isn’t TOO far from the truth.

Question: Are they having a post-breakup dance off?

Yes. The answer is yes.

Comment: The Justin Breakup Really Did a Number on Brit

After her VMAs 2003 performance with Madonna and Christina makeout sesh, she gets off the stage and asks her mama, Fe and Larry Rudolph (her longtime manager) if they think Justin liked it. Except he had already moved on to Cameron Diaz. Britney’s mom already mentioned she had been acting up after their split, but we’re still 4 years away from the ’07 head shaving incident.

Question: Do we all forget Britney was married for 48 hours?

Just me? There’s so much other shit that went down that I always forget she was married to Jason Alexander. And she was a hot mess in this scene.

Comment: Kevin Federline Seems Like a Skeeze

Britney’s second husband is introduced to us in a scene where she and KFed are making out in a stairwell before her show. There is WAY too much tongue being used and I had to legitimately look away. Was this supposed to show us that their relationship was purely sexual? That they had a hot marriage which resulted in two (of a total of six) kids?

Other things I learned about their marriage: KFed’s is nickname was supposedly “Meat Pole”, there were allegations he cheated on her which planted the seeds of the imminent split, and she supposedly texted him to let him know she was done with him, with the phrase, “I wnt 2 divorce u.”

Concern: Just general concern for Britney 2007

I’m still not over this. She needed help and the only media made her even crazier. It makes me frustrated and sad, but in the end very proud that she was able to distance herself from the people who tried to take advantage of her and gain back control of her life.

Comment: The Sam Lutfi Dude Is Still Creepy

Brit flanked by Sam Lutfi and Adnan Ghalib (front), who was not portrayed in Britney Ever After.

Sam somehow got close enough to Brit that he was hired as her “manager”, but he was no bueno. At the time, he already had two outstanding restraining orders against him, so already off to a great start. In the movie, he’s correctly portrayed as someone who is just in Brit’s life for the fame and money, clearly not getting her the help she needed during the dark days. What an asshole. Britney’s parents ultimately got a restraining order against Sam, and in the film, the order is literally thrown at his face. It’s great.

Question: I still don’t get why this is called Britney Ever After?

It goes all the way up to the opening of her Vegas show… which is still happening… and I’m starting to think this was just one giant commercial for her residency and they just acted like she had no part in it. LARRY RUDOLPH IF THIS IS TRUE, I APPLAUD YOU.

*cue the I Am Britney Jean documentary right after this film ends. Seriously.*

Notable Lines:

Phrases used to show it’s not present day:  “Look a Furby!””Straight buggin… The bomb diggity.”  We get it. It’s 1998.

“Cool friggin beans – BUNKBEDS!?” Definitely something Brit would’ve said

Jamie Spears calls Brit and Justin’s alleged sex tapes “boudoir videos” after they were stolen from her home.

*Justin surprises Britney after being out on the road, and shows up at her door with finger guns*

Brit: “Is this a stick up?” Justin: “I’m about to rob you… of your heart!”

“Who’s that fool?… A clown is what she’s got.” Her bodyguard when he first sees Brit making out with Kevin Federline

Playlist of the Month: Songs from 2015 That Need To Stay In 2015

Well folks, it’s a brand new year, which means it’s time for a fresh start. One where we can look forward to good things to come in the next 12 months, and leave behind all the shitty things that happened where they belong in 2015. And keeping in our annual tradition, we’ve compiled a list of songs from 2015 that we’d be happy to never hear in 2016 or any other year moving forward, for that matter.

Traci’s Picks

Watch Me by Silento

I really wish I could just list this song five times in a row, but I won’t. I feel like we, as a society, understand why this song is on this list. It’s a novelty song in the same vein as the Macarena or Gangnam Style, but when you take the dance proponent away, it’s just not that good of a song, and it’s really annoying.

She’s Kinda Hot by Five Seconds Of Summer

Not sorry I’m about to say this, but 5 Seconds of Summer is a trash band. Come at me 5SOS fans. This song proves it, blatantly being sexist and making money off of it. Actual lyrics: “My girlfriend’s bitchin’ cause I always sleep in/She’s always screaming when she’s calling her friends/She’s kinda hot though/Yeah she’s kinda hot though/(Just an itty bitty little bit hot)”

Pretty Girls by Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea

I love you Brit, but you’ve done better than this. You ARE better than this.

Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy

There’s just something about comparing a girl to Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction that makes me super uneasy. Maybe it’s because Tarantino films make me uneasy, so this is just uncomf by default? Either way, still not digging the song.

Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd

I don’t even hate this song, but all of The Weeknd’s singles were played constantly in 2015. I’d turn on the radio, and it would be this song, then switch to another station and it would be Earned It. Couldn’t escape the guy.

Molly’s Picks

Honey I’m Good by Andy Grammer

This song brings me back to my early 20s, when you’d go to a dive bar and stay there too late and end up talking to somebody like this. And in 2015, you could have that experience WITH this song playing in the background. It somehow manages to sound faux-country and faux-reggae at the same time. I guess the good part is that the narrator doesn’t cheat?

Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding

I love Ellie Goulding, wedding singer for Will and Kate, hotel guest who cheated (…ish) on Ed Sheeran with Nial Horan before he was even New!Nial, performer who launched 1,000 Youtube covers. But I do NOT love Love Me Like You Do, which sounds like a breathy take on a 1998 Robyn b-side (and I also love Robyn). Let’s be real, I mostly don’t like it because it’s from 50 Shades of Gray.

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

I’m sure there are plenty of really nice folks going through hard times who have made this their “anthem” by now, and I mean no ill will. I just don’t like it. I think it falls into the category of What Makes You Beautiful and All About That Bass, which I dislike because they feel like they’re pandering.

Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld

I just don’t care for this, although it doesn’t, like, offend my sensibilities in the way that 5SOS does.

Sugar by Maroon Five

There isn’t much wrong with this song, it just isn’t one I feel like I have to hear again. I’ve never hated it, but I’ve never loved it, and it sounds like something I would hear on a commercial or at the gym, maybe.

Confusion, Boredom, Disgust: Faces Of Adults At The Teen Choice Awards

A lot of things stood between me and the Teen Choice Awards. Mainly adulthood, which meant I was watching full of questions: why was everyone screaming so much? Who were these people? Why are some people wearing shorts and others wearing semi-formalwear? Another problem was my rip-roaring “Sunday night in my late 20s” schedule – how would I fold laundry, take a shower, dust the downstairs, do crunches AND eat half a box of Kashi sea salt crackers while watching this mess?

So I may not have watched the entire show, but I was heartened by the solidarity  I felt with the non-teens in the audience, whose faces betrayed them: their choice was to be anywhere but at these awards.

Josh Peck, a 28-year-old, exhorted the children in the audience to look up from their phones. When Josh Peck and I were teens (shoutout to the 1986 babies!) the only reason you’d be looking down at your phone is if you were in the middle of a particularly long game of Snake.

Scott Earnestwood, an adult man, is perplexed. Our face exactly, Scott.

John Stamos, a famous uncle, gives side-eye to his younger self – something I often do figuratively but never IRL.

Sarah Hyland, who can vote and drink in all 50 states, tripped… then dropped an f-bomb, because she’s an adult and she can.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, a married couple, celebrated their seven-year anniversary at the Teen Choice Awards … because see, when you’re a full-fledged grown-up you get stuck doing work stuff on your birthday or anniversary a lot of the time.

Britney Spears, a mom, brought her cute kids and niece along because “mom, we don’t HAVE a bedtime on summer vacation” and also because her sons are now closer in age to Baby One More Time-era Britney than Britney is.

Nina Dobrev, former teen/ current 26-year-old, delivered a big “see ya later, suckers!” to the teen vampire genre.

And finally, Gabourey Sidibe, not a girl not yet a woman, decided to just go with it:

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Crossroads

Okay, you know those movies and shows that everyone has seen, and when it comes up in conversation you just sort of nod and hope nobody asks you anything? I have a lot of those. The entire Godfather series, for example. I know. Anyway, we’re both out to tackle our pop culture blind spots and find out if the phenomenon we’ve missed out on are really all they’re cracked up to be.

Our first installment is a cinematic masterpiece that is the zenith of my generation’s teen entertainment. It stars Britney Spears and was written by a young Shonda Rhimes. And I’m pretty sure I’ve told like 5 people that I’ve seen it when it came up in conversation. That was a lie.

Ladies and gentlemen, Crossroads.


 

0:00 Not only have I refrained from seeing this movie since it came out in 2002, I have also been pushing it down our post queue for, like, two months. So I think a lot of our Pop Culture Blind Spots are movies, shows and albums that we’ve avoided because a still small voice said “another episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, why don’t we?”

1:00 Taryn Manning, Zoe Saldana, Shonda Rhimes? This was an incubator for stars of the future.

1:20 … and the past. Kool Mo Dee, anyone? [Edit – next morning: I cannot remember where or how Kool Mo Dee appeared in this movie.]

I have already had to pause this to laugh at the Brit Spears voice over.

1:40 The wardrobe department did a very good job on the 90s flashback jacket for young Zoe Saldana (Kit, but it sounds like Britney is saying Kid). It’s easy to picture “90s kids clothes” today, but when it was only a couple years after the fact it was hard to remember what has changed. Like, if you told me to dress a child like it’s 2007, I’d put it in …. an Obama Hope logo tee shirt? No clue.

By the way, young Britney is played by Jamie Lynn Spears, before her life and career went in a totally different direction. You could almost say she was …. at a crossroads.

2:20 There’s a time capsule. I’m hooked.

3:00 Oh thank God. Britney is singing again. Madonna’s Open Your Heart, which is really more suited to a televised mass wedding, to be honest.

3:51 BRIT IS THE VALEDICTORIAN. This is important.

4:10 PENNSATUCKY IS A PREGNANT TEEN. This is more important. I also am not sure how or when Taryn Manning became typecast as the redneck bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but she is so amazing at it.

OMG THIS FOREVER YES.

5:50 Why is Brit in a prom dress AFTER graduation? Do they do that in … is this Louisiana?

In my day (2 years after this movie was made) graduation night was the first chance you had to start never seeing most of those people ever again.

6:36 Britney Acting Range: Emotion #1: Pouty. She cries over missing out on high school stuff to become the valedictorian. When she says “I was like ‘is this it?'” you can almost see her straining to recall memorized dialogue.

7:23 They’re at some sort of fancy post-grad soiree. I forgot how shiny and pink 2002 was. Saldana is rocking the rows of twisted hair into a bun look. Sans butterfly clips, because it’s not 1999 here.

Reminiscent of the best Zoe Saldana role of all time, Eva in Center Stage.

10:30 Brit and her Nerdy Male Friend (Lucy and Henry, which sounds more like a preschool class in 2015 than a high school class in 2002) prepare to have sex for, presumably, the first time. There is a scarf strewn over a bedside lamp. Does anyone toss a scarf over a lamp before sex IRL? Anyone? Seems like a fire haz.

Henry, BTW, is Justin Long in his early career.

12:45 Pennsatucky fights with a guy with molded vertical Ken Doll hair.

14:38 The Time Capsule was so boring. Oh my god, so boring. They put in emblems of their hopes and dreams, which is exactly as not-interesting as it sounds. Saldana wanted to get married, Brit wanted to find her mom, and Pennsatucky wanted to get out of dodge.

Britney Acting Range: Emotion #2: Opening a box. Kind of neutral, but wouldn’t most of us be if we were opening such a boring-ass time capsule?

17:10 Brit calls her mom “mother” which gives me hope that things will turn Baby Jane/ Psycho / SOMETHING.

Yo remember those slim-fit rugby shirts we used to wear? I assume there’s a name for them.

That one shirt we all had.

19:40 Bucket hat. Trailer park. They’re going to LA.

21:32 You know those people who,when you’re singing in the car, try to ~show off and sing really good? Britney Spears is that person.

Saldana has those sunglasses with a shape in rhinestone decals. Those are Paige Michalchuk sunglasses.

25:40 Ben was in jail. Ben is the guy they’re driving to LA with. Never take rides from a stranger, friends. That’s how you get serial killed.

27:00 Saldana is rocking some yellow-gold eyeshadow that I also sported a lot c. 2002. I thought it made my blue eyes “pop” but I looked like a baby that needed to get put under those jaundice lights.

Also they’re buying Funyuns. Do people actually like those?

29:00 Dan Aykroyd wants Brit to come home. I have avoided mentioning that Dan Aykroyd was her father till now because it pains me.

31:10 Those shirts with the thin neck scarf thing attached! I had roughly the same top as Saldana has on.

32:18 Pennsatucky and Saldana fight. If anything is redeeming in this movie, it’s Taryn Manning. She is amazing.

Britney Spears Acting Range: Emotion #3: Frustration. Broken-down car on road trip.

35:55 The girls do a Karaoke performance to make money. I Love Rock n Roll. I forgot about that Britney Spears cover. Spears packed a crimper in their luggage, apparently; thank God. She also has one of those shirts where the writing on it is split open in front of her cleavage, and her underwear is a solid inch above her low-rise jeans. Okay. So I have adjusted to the 90s fashion revival, but it’s really going to sting when the early 2000s come back.

38:00 Did you ever notice that Britney changes the end of every word that ends in an “ee” sound into an “ay” sound? ‘He was with may.’ I think that must have been part of the Mickey Mouse Club training protocol, because the late 90s boy bands did that, too. Or is it a very specific accent native to the Oakwood?

43:00 The girls have a slumber party at the house from Pretty Baby.

I waited to add images til my lunch break, and I can’t look up Pretty Baby at work because… have you seen Pretty Baby? But Google it and you’ll see that the set design is 100% the same.

 

Child!Saldana went to fat camp. Is fat camp real? Has anyone been? Will you write a guest post? I’m dying to know more.

44:55: Britney Spears Acting Range: Emotion #4: Rue. Rue? Rueful? She’s bummed. Mom stuff.

You know what this movie is missing? The Shonda Rhimes cadence from Scandal. Where they all “talk like THIS, like.. they are reading a SLAAAM… poem.”

46:00 Wait, Pennsatucky is pregnant because she got date raped? This just got dark.

50:10 How many sing alongs do they have to do? I mean I know it’s a road trip movie… with Britney Spears in it… but I want to leave sing alongs to Man! I Feel Like A Woman on my high school tennis bus where they belong.

54:20 Car Owner Ben was arrested for helping his sister get away from his stepdad. This is the least fun road trip ever.

57:45 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

Nobody told me that Britney was going to dramatically recite the lyrics to Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman. I would have remembered if somebody told me that. I would have steeled myself for it. Britney Spears Acting Range: Emotion #5: Poetess.

Shouldn’t a valedictorian be better at writing?

1:00:00 Kim Cattrall is here. Maybe that will help. She’s Brit’s mom, who lives in a McMansion. Lots of white, light oak, and giant floral arrangements. The decor preferences of a total bitch. She is dressed like the Crocodile Hunter, may he rest in peace.

1:06:40 Ben set Brit’s “poem” to music. That’s what I’ve been watching for over an hour? The origin story of Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman? Britney Jean Spears’ fifth-best single? Now anybody who knows me knows that I love early 2000s-era Britney … hell, all the Britneys… but this is just too much.

“Not a girl, not yet a woman.” So, a teenager. That’s a teenager.

1:09:20 They’re singing in the car again (If It Makes You Happy by Sheryl Crow, this time). Oh Christ Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God. Sing With All The Saints In Glory. Why? If I wanted to listen to someone sing Sheryl Crow in the car I would go run errands with my mom.*

* If you like me even a little bit, you would love my mom.

1:12 I’m sure they explained this in between sing alongs, but how do they have the money to stay at all these hotels? Car Owner Ben? Now they’re in LA in a room with a beach view that looks like it would be the set of a Mary Kate And Ashley original movie. One of them would be the girly, sweet one and the other would be the sporty, funny one and their names would be Cleo and Baylee. Or Maddi and Lylah. Or Trixie and Summer.

Shea and Maxie?

 

1:14:02 Ben has a back piece of angel wings, but make no mistake, he’s no Helena.

1:15:40 Oh shit. Saldana’s BF is hooking up with some hussy AND he’s wearing one of those zip up bowling shirt things. AND he raped Pennsatucky. So obvi Pennsatucky owes nothing to anybody at this point, but wouldn’t you do a friend a solid and tell her that her BF/Fiance is a rapist? Or like slip it into a note since it’s an uncomfy convo. I’d say you could text it, but in 2002 that would have taken like 15 minutes and that’s IF your plan had texting.

1:18:20 Pennsatucky fell down the stairs getting away from Rapist Dylan and lost the baby. This road trip is the pits. Is anything good going to happen to her ever, or is this an early 2000s cautionary tale about going to parties in the first place or some-such?

I feel like this is an e.e. cummings poem where Milly (Brit) gets to befriend a fallen star whose rays five languid fingers were, and freaking Molly (Pennsatucky, Saldana) has to get chased by a terrible thing that runs sideways blowing bubbles.

1:24 So Pennsatucky sat out her miscarriage or whatever, and now they’re ready to go.

**** At this point, I went to take a picture of the screen but was accidentally on selfie mode. It’s against my better judgement to post this, but this is the ACTUAL UNALTERED FACE I WAS MAKING while watching this:

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Those aren’t so much eyes as saucers brimming with confusion. ***

1:25 Dan Aykroyd comes to collect Brit. She says “don’t make me run, let me go.” Then she hands him her locket so that he can keep half of it and find her at an orphanage in 10 years, and she leaves to make out with the guy she met that week.

There’s a billboard for Spy Kids in the background, to give you an idea of what era we’re in.

And if there were still any doubt of what era we’re in, Brit sings at an American Idol-esque audition wearing a criss-cross crop top with enormous billowing sleeves. Pennsatucky and Saldana, fresh off a miscarriage and finding out her fiancé is a rapist, respectively, sing backup.

1:29 They make a new time capsule, but with no wishes for the future, because I guess Britney is the only character who has one at this point. For they are not girls, not yet women.

Teenagers.

Love Is Dead: A Look At Our Obsession With Celebrity Couples

Yesterday, we got confirmation of the rumor we hoped wasn’t true – after almost exactly 10 years of marriage, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, aka Bennifer 2.0, announced they are getting a divorce. They had been dodging gossip for a while, but like any good American, we denied it was happening until it was slapping us across the face and posing as an actual problem.

Celebrity relationships have always been fascinating to me/the world, and in more recent years, specifically the psychology of why we, as a culture, are so obsessed with celebrity couples. Is it because they are the seemingly ideal, picture perfect, couple where nothing could possibly be wrong? Yes. Is it what our own #relationshipgoals aim to be? Yes. But despite all of that, why does it always feel like we are the ones ‘dying’ when it has absolutely nothing to do with us?

Today I’m looking back at some of the celebrity breakups that shook us to the core, proclaiming in all caps that LOVE IS DEAD and ‘IF THEY CAN’T MAKE IT, WHO CAN?’ to all of the Internet.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

BAEs for: 10 years of marriage

RIP: June 30th, 2015 (One day after their 10th anniversary)

OTP Moment(s): The moment when Jen fell in love with Ben, last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Why are we upset: Ben & Jen were like the All-American couple with the three cute kids, who were Hollywood enough that made them unattainable, but had a certain level of relatability. When they first met, he was engaged to another Jennifer, but ultimately, as we know, Jen G. won his heart in the end. Or not, I guess.

Over It Meter:  It just happened, so it’ll take me a while –

5 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston

BAEs for: 5 years of marriage

RIP: January 2005

OTP Moment(s): The One With Brad On Friends, any time either of them were on Oprah, that super secret wedding, all their red carpet moments

Why are we upset: Jennifer is and was the beloved star from Friends, and he was the hottest Hollywood hunk that made them the golden couple of the early 2000s. They were a couple everyone was rooting for, so when they split, it was as if an actual person had died from their break-up. Not to mention, it all went down as Brad and Angelina’s onscreen chemistry was palpable in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, leading many to cast Angie as the villain in the scenario and tabloids STILL try to Pitt (pun intended) these women against each other. But the one thing we’ve learned from all of this: we just all want to see Jennifer Aniston happy.

Over It Meter: It’s been 10 years. We’re still a little hurt.

4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

BAEs for: 3 years of dating

RIP: 2010

OTP Moment(s): All the High School Musicals, when they were on the beach, Vanessa’s Say OK video, the last time they walked a red carpet together

Why are we upset: I was in college when the first High School Musical came out, and I’m not ashamed to say I loved it. And I totally stanned for Troy/Gabriella, but more so Zac/Vanessa. I thought they were going to be together forever, TBH. I was Zanessa for life. Then they broke up, and I broke up too. It was sad, and if they ever get together again in the future I WILL NOT BE SURPRISED.

Over It Meter:  Like I said, it won’t surprise me if they fall back in love when they’re 35.

4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears

BAEs for: 3 years of dating (why does it seem like so much longer than that?)

RIP: 2002

OTP Moment(s):  Mickey Mouse Club duets, all the denim, Justin surprising a (genuinely shocked) Brit on an MTV special, accepting the Teen Choice Award for Choice Hotties, this whole photo shoot

Why are we upset: I am a Backstreet Boys fan, but also a Britney fan, so when she started dating Justin, I was at a *Crossroads*. Luckily, this was around the time JT was about to do his own thing, so my love for him as a solo artist grew from there, but my love for them as a couple was unquantifiable.They were the prince and princess of pop music, and their coupledom is hard to beat. When they abruptly broke up (What Goes Around Comes Around), not only was it the first celeb breakup (in my lifetime) that was devastating, but it was the first time I thought ~*tRuE LoVe*~ really didn’t exist.

Over It Meter:  Both JT and Brit have clearly moved on, so we should too. But they get 2 rain GIFs only because they were iconic.

2 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon

BAEs for: 7 years of marriage

RIP: 2006

OTP Moment(s):  Cruel Intentions

Why are we upset: Cruel Intentions was one of the best cult movies of our generation. I remember secretly going to see it with my friend, whose dad bought the tickets for us because it was rated R and we weren’t 17 yet. I think I told my parents I was going to see Robin Williams’ What Dreams May Come. Anyways, Reese and Ryan were like the younger version of Jen and Brad, and we were rooting for them because their onscreen love was real offscreen too.

Over It Meter:  The best part about them as a couple is their two adorable kids, including Reese’s doppelganger Ava. It’s clear they were just really young when they got married, and Reese has another cute kid with her hubs while Ryan has another kid with the girl from Pitch Perfect.

1 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel

BAEs for: 10 years of marriage

RIP: 2014

OTP Moment(s):  All of Rent, when he played Fiyero to her Elphaba, just any time they sing together, the time I saw her in concert and I’m pretty sure she was a little tipsy and verrryyy horny for Taye, any time they hang with their cute kid Walker

Why are we upset: This is so cliche, but Rent is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and I spent a lot of my youth listening to the OBC (Original Broadway Cast, for you non-nerds) soundtrack. When I found out that these two met, fell in love, and got married all because of the show, it made me love them even more. I was working when the news of their divorce dropped, and I had to compose my emotions for a few minutes before writing it up because I was THAT emotionally attached to these idiots.

Over It Meter: I. STILL. SHIP. IT.

5 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses
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Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams

BAEs for: 3-ish years dating

RIP: 2008

OTP Moment(s):  All of The Notebook, The Notebook audition video, and the ultimate OTP vid: The 2005 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss acceptance speech

Why are we upset: Obviously The Notebook is considered one of the best romantic films in recent history, and the onscreen/offscreen love story between Ryan and Rachel just made it that much better. We’re gonna dismiss the fact they may not have gotten along on set and just remember that they made an amazing couple. But that Best Kiss tho.

Over It Meter:  This would be 5, except he has a baby with Eva Mendes now, so I guess that trumps this reunion.

4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Will Arnett and Amy Poehler

BAEs for: 9 years of marriage

RIP: 2012

OTP Moment(s):  Blades of Glory, Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, this Gap ad, their “Double A Batteries”, general red carpet merriment

Why are we upset: Oh man. This one hurt. This one hurt real bad. If you’re new to our blog, Amy is deity around here, and just one of the many reasons we love her so much is because, as you know, she’s funny. Will is equally hilarious and can actually keep up with Poehler in the comedy department (watch that Blades of Glory clip). They were up there with like, Stiller and Meara or Lucy and Desi (I just picked refs for 70 year olds). When they announced their separation, I was much like those Twitter users, declaring LOVE IS DEAD. But in the end, like Jennifer Aniston before her, we just want Amy to be happy.

Over It Meter: Amy started dating Nick Kroll about a year after separating from Will, and at the time, I thought it was a downgrade, but I’ve really come to like their relationship, and where she’s at in her life in general – with or without a man. So she and Will get:

3 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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When Poets Blow It: Guess The Celebrity Bards!

It can be very hard for celebrities to know what they’re bad at. I say that with genuine empathy. Once you reach a certain level of fame, you are probably surrounded by people telling you how wonderful you are at everything. It must be difficult to parse out who’s just humoring you. Somebody at some point told all of these celebrities that they were good at poetry, and you know what? I have to commend them for trying. See, even though an enthusiastic fifth grade teacher probably told all of us that “everybody can write poetry,” the fact remains that most people shouldn’t.

These stars aren’t exactly Dylan Thomas staggering through Chelsea or Mary Oliver roaming through a woodland with, like, a gentle fox, but they put forth an effort. Some of them – though not technically great writers – even managed to capture their personal voice in their poems, something that even accomplished writers can struggle with. Don’t believe me? Try guessing which celebrity wrote these tragic verses. If you’re up for it, you could even stage a poetry reading! With verses about three-way phone calls, an assistant named Fe, and bitchy organic food enthusiasts who don’t know how to stay in their gluten-free lane, you’re in for a good time.

Like all good fifth grade workbooks, we”ll even provide a “word bank”:

  • Suzanne Somers
  • Ashanti
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Charlie Sheen
  • Pamela Anderson
  • Britney Spears
  • Sean Penn
  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • James Franco
  • Sarah Palin
  • Kate Moss
  • Ally Sheedy
  • Jewel
  • Kristen Stewart

Okay, here come the poems!

I reared digital moonlight
You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black
Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen
Thrown down to strafe your foothills
…I’ll suck the bones pretty.

  • ANSWER: Kristen Stewart, From My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole

Lucky in love
Lucky in love
Didn’t forget me when I asked you to leave me
Didn’t forget me
Now you’re alongside me
You’ve brought luck to love
I’ve been hit by a truck in love.”

  • ANSWER: Jennifer Aniston, re: John Mayer

honeymoon at last, to get away from it all
My assistant Fe gave me the call.

I remember it well, as she was smilin’
She said it was called Turtle Island.

I packed my bags light and quick,
Then grabbed my pink dress & favorite lipstick.

  • ANSWER: Britney Spears, in Honeymoon Poem

There had been a time
When we were up for the same roles,
10 Things I Hate about You
(
Based on The Taming of the Shrew),
And The Patriot —
Funny, you were Australian and so was Mel —
You were the knight in A Knight’s Tale
Although I’m sure you wished you weren’t.

  • ANSWER: James Franco, in Ledger

Excuse me, aren’t you…?”
“Hey, you look just like…”
“Oh my God, that’s…”
“Sorry to interrupt your dinner, but aren’t you…”
“Look, I never do this, but, my wife thinks you’re…”
“My friend is so convinced that you’re…”
“I’m so embarrassed, but, aren’t you…?”
“I know you must be tired of this, but…”
“WAIT!!”
All eyes held in stare, all mouths locked open in shock, as he pulled the latex [REDACTED] mask from his head, revealing the rotted skull of President Lincoln.

  • ANSWER: Charlie Sheen, in I.D. Blues (redacted = “Charlie Sheen,” of course)

Organic girl dropped by last night

For nothing in particular

Except to tell me again how beautiful and serene she feels

On uncooked vegetables and wheat germ fortified by bean sprouts—

Mixed with yeast and egg whites on really big days—

She not only meditates regularly, but looks at me like I should

And lectures me about meat and ice cream

And other aggressive foods I shouldn’t eat.

  • ANSWER: Suzanne Somers, in Organic Girl

I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his health care scam.

I do not like — oh, just you wait — I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books.

I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their crony deals.

I do not like this spying, man, I do not like, ‘Oh, Yes we can.’

I do not like this spending spree, we’re smart, we know there’s nothing free.

I do not like reporters’ smug replies when I complain about their lies.

I do not like this kind of hope, and we won’t take it, nope, nope, nope.

  • ANSWER: Sarah Palin, in an actual speech at a real convention

 

I’ve been thinking you’ve been cheatin
and you know that’s just not right
So just to be sure
I gave you a call
to see exactly what you’d say
You said, “Girl you know I’m not lyin!”
Good, lets call her on three-way

  • ANSWER: Ashanti, in Three-Way

…ME – I miss PLAYBOY – The end of an Era – Chivalry, elegance, celebrated imperfections…

  • ANSWER: Pamela Anderson, in Untitled Facebook Poem

we wait
it passes
kito – we figured out
was the place they stopped
b4 the galapagos

ee cummings was just lazy

  • ANSWER: Rosie O’Donnell in Aloha

brighter and brighter every day
calmer
my insides slosh about like a nauseous ocean
it takes great gulps of air
words from religious books
and Diet Cherry Coke to quiet the sound

  • ANSWER: Ally Sheedy in On The Road

I saw a woman
whose teeth were
straight like
White picket fensces
Until she looked
at her husband-
They they looked like
Shattered windows

  • ANSWER: Jewel in Untitled

What is this on my chin…?
It’s f**king s**t, man
All right
F**k this
F**k it
Give me a f**king shower.

  • Sean Penn in This Water’s Cold

 

 

What The World Was Like Then: Zoolander Edition

On Tuesday, Hollywood’s (no-so) best kept secret of a sequel to 2001’s cult comedy Zoolander was finally confirmed – but in a way that was totally kept secret. If you haven’t seen the video and gifs floating around, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson surprised the crowd during the Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week. They reprised their characters of Derek Zoolander and his arch nem Hansel McDonald, and went down the runway in a classic walk-off.

The stunt was brilliant and paid off, since it’s since gone viral on the internetz, including this very blog. We were in high school when Zoolander came out in 2001, and I vividly remember going to the movie theater with my friends to see it, and howling at the screen because I thought it was so funny (interestingly enough, I don’t think I would like it if I saw it for the first time now, but that’s beside the point). This scene (featuring a young Alexander Skarsgard) and the phrase “Orange mocha frappucinos” became an instant inside joke between us, and it is one of those memories that sticks out in the entirety of my 29 years of existence, for some reason.

While some will relate to Zoolander as a hilarious movie that they loved, I relate to it as a welcome and enjoyable memory from my teen years. So, it got me thinking, I can’t believe it’s been 14 years since Zoolander came out, and 2001, as we all know, was a turning point in world history, but there are a number of other things that happened in 2001 that make Lance Bass and Fred Durst’s cameos in Zoolander make much more sense if you remember the historical context around the movie. As a refresher, and while we wait for Zoolander 2 to come out next year, here are some highlights from 2001 to put you back in that Blue Steel mood.

But first – click on this medley of hits from ’01 and proceed.

  • Wikipedia goes live! I would not discover it until circa 2006.
  • George W. Bush is sworn into office (the first time)

  • Nicole Kidman realizes she’s better than this (*xenu*) and splits from Tom Cruise. Later, she goes on the world’s worst ‘date’ with Jimmy Fallon.
  • Backstreet Boys perform Larger than Life at the American Music Awards, and during the performance they’re joined on stage by ‘N Sync, marking it the only time that the boy bands performed on stage together. AND FOR SOME REASON I DON’T RECALL THIS SLASH THERE IS NO VIDEO TO PROVE IT.
  • Napster shuts down its entire network after losing the copyright case.

  • Meanwhile, Steve Jobs is on it and Apple introduces the iTunes media player.
  • Fox Family Channel is renamed ABC Family, which is why repeats of ABC shows like Life with Bonnie and Less Than Perfect aired when you got home from school.
  • Monica and Chandler finally get married – but I’m still wondering what happened to Joey’s World War II movie that was supposed to come out Memorial Day weekend 2002.
  • The first Kidz Bop CD (yes, CD) is released, including horribly covered Top 40 hits such as Smashmouth’s All Star, Bring It All To Me by Blaque ft. JC Chasez, and Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65.

*Ed. Note: I didn’t realize it was kids singing in the background with adults taking lead vocals??

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premieres and becomes the highest-grossing film of the year, and has since made $974.7 million worldwide. Other movies that made their debut in 2001:  The Fast and the Furious, Legally Blonde, On the Line, Corky Romano (which I also embarrassingly saw in the theater – it was SNL fangirl inspired), and Glitter.
  • Speaking of Glitter, July 2001 marked the ICONIC time when Mariah unexpectedly visited Carson Daly on the set of TRL, pushing an ice cream cart and then stripping off her Glitter shirt which, as I recall, was the oddest, most uncomfortable live scene in TV history. She later checks into a hospital for “extreme exhaustion”.

  • Jennifer Lopez marries her back-up dancer Cris Judd – and they divorce in 2002. Don’t worry, J Lo, you still have a lot more hearts to break in the future…
  • Lizzie McGuire premieres! Somewhere, Aaron Carter is just waiting by his AOL account waiting for an email from his agent to tell him he’s got a cameo on the show.
  • After eight years, Nickelodeon’s iconic Saturday night line-up, called SNICK is rebranded as TEENick, and my childhood officially dies.

  • This happened at the VMAs and I’m still not over it.

A Definitive Ranking of the songs on Platinum Christmas

The year is 2000. I graduated 8th grade and met Molly in high school for the first time. We survived Y2K. George Dubya was elected President for the first time. American Beauty won Best Picture at the Oscars.  Ian ‘Thorpedo’ Thorpe dominated in his native Australia during the Sydney summer Olympics. Joey chose Pacey over that other dude in the Dawson’s Creek series finale. TRL (Total Request Live, duh) was at the height of its popularity. This was the year of …Oops I Did It Again, The Real Slim Shady, ‘N Sync vs. BSB. Pop music was alive and well, and being a 14-year-old teenybopper, I soaked it all in.

The folks over at Jive Records, which was home to a lot of the pop acts featured on TRL, decided to capitalize on this and make a compilation album for the holidays called Platinum Christmas. If you shared any of the same musical tastes as I did, you remember this album clearly. My Christmas music collection was sparse at the time, and rather embarrassing to be quite honest. But I played this album on my boom box for hours. I would make my parents play it in the car, so listening to a lot of these songs remind me of sitting in the backseat, staring out the window and gazing at the piles and piles of snow we passed by.

So in honor of the holiday season, I’ve revisited one of the most nostalgic albums from my youth, and ranked each song by order of import/how good it is. Please tell me I’m not the only person who played this on repeat! And immediately skipped over Santana!

{16} Posada (Pilgrimage To Bethlehem) by Santana

In the summer of ’99, I became obsessed with Smooth by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana. Like, I bought the CD single, and put that shit on repeat with no end in sight. Because I didn’t know any better, I thought I would just automatically love all of Carlos Santana’s music. Yeah, I was a teenage girl into the Backstreet Boys, someone should’ve told me I wouldn’t like listening to the Latin-inspired blues guitar stylings of Santana.

{15} My Gift to You by Donell Jones

This song sounds like one of the B-Side tracks off a Time Life R&B/Soul collection comprised of 10 CDs.

{14} Silent Night / Noche de Paz by Christina Aguilera

Listen, I owned Xtina’s My Kind of Christmas album, and this song wasn’t on it. Because it’s boring. Literally every song on her own record is better than this one.

{13} Christmas Day by Dido

I never really got into Dido, mainly because her voice annoyed me. But apparently Dido’s been busy releasing new music since 2000, and none of it involves collaborations with Eminem.

{12}  The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Toni Braxton

I feel like I only really like Toni Braxton’s voice when it’s strictly in the confines of Un-Break My Heart or I Get So High. If I hear it in any other song, I’m not into it. Exhibit A.

{11} Little Drummer Boy by Jars Of Clay

I went through a period of time in my life, albeit brief, where I was super into Christian music. Jars of Clay is one of the big names in that genre (and also some of the guys are from our hometown of Rochester) so I got “excited” when I saw they were on this album. Their version of Little Drummer Boy is real chill, the kind of song that you probably listen to while watching fire crackle in your fireplace.

{10} Christmas Time by Backstreet Boys

As a self-professed BSB fan, I am the first to admit that isn’t the best Christmas or BSB song in their catalogue (If you want a better one by them, listen to this). At the time this song was released, I was in full BSB fangirl mode – I even remember calling into the local Top 40 radio station back home and asking them to play the song, even when it really wasn’t a single? I can’t even recall if they obliged me or not. The point is that although my love for them knows no bounds, I usually only listen to about a minute or two before skipping to the next song.

{9} World Christmas by R. Kelly

Controversies and weird shit aside, I actually do appreciate R. Kelly and his voice. Every time I hear this, I think ‘UGH’ but then it gets to the chorus and I’m hooked.

{8} Grown-Up Christmas List by Monica

While this is a popular Christmas tune, I think this was the first time I had ever really paid attention. Monica, while she doesn’t have to belt-iest or most impressive voice, it’s smooth and pure, and that’s what makes her version of this song so great.

{7} Sleigh Ride by TLC

If you want a never-heard before track by classic TLC, you need to listen to this. Everything about it screams 90s/early 00s, and it’s fantastic. T-Boz’s distinguishable voice, Chili’s R&B riffs, and the magic that is Left Eye’s raps is all featured in this track. Not to mention they managed to make a classic Christmas tune sound like an original. Not many artists can do that without coming off as trying too hard.

{6} I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You by ‘N Sync

As previously mentioned, I was a BSB fan. Also as previously mentioned, 2000 was the height of the BSB vs. ‘N Sync rivalry. And while I wasn’t as intense as some girls, I did refuse to listen to any ‘N STINK songs. I changed the radio station anytime they came on, and silently seethed in dance class the day my teacher played the entire No Strings Attached album during warmups. I still have only heard Bye Bye Bye a limited amount of times. So, when Platinum Christmas was on repeat back in Y2K, I promptly pressed fast forward on my CD player. Years later, I calmed it down a bit, and actually listened to this song. It’s great, y’all. But hey, let’s not get crazy. BSB 4 Evr.

{5} Who Would Imagine a King by Whitney Houston

Boy, do I miss 80s/90s Whitney. This particular song was also on the soundtrack to her movie The Preacher’s Wife, and it shows off her gorgeous voice in a more religious setting, and the lack of excessive riffs is exactly what the song needed (or didn’t need). This song is a reminder why Whit became a music icon in the first place.

{4} Christmas Song by Dave Matthews

I don’t know about you guys, but in Rochester, I feel like Dave Matthews Band was like THE band to be into if you were one of those people that was granola-y and wore hoodies like this. And in usual DMB fashion, this track was recorded live, and just hearing the screams in the background reminds me of all the dudes wearing those baja hoodies and flip flops and Grateful Dead tye dye t-shirts. But I mean, great song.

{3} Merry X-Mas Everybody by Steps

2000 was also the year I went to London/UK/Europe for the first time, and I was into this phase of being into a lot of British pop acts, because I wanted to seem cool, I guess? Like I was super into Westlife, BBMak, Craig David, S Club 7, etc. Steps was a S Club 7-like band that was comprised of five guys and gals and really big in the UK. While I did get into Steps a little, it was really just this song that I still sometimes listen to on my current Christmas rotation.

{2} This Christmas by Joe

Look, no one can touch Donny Hathaway’s OG version, but Joe is pretty close. While others have tried, I feel like Joe is the only one who can sing it like Donny, but not actually be Donny or copy his every note.

{1} My Only Wish (This Year) by Britney Spears

By far, this is the best song on Platinum Christmas, and worth the price of the entire CD just for this song. Brit hadn’t released any holiday songs up to that time, and again, she was at the height of her popularity (…Oops era, remember) so this song was like a Christmas gift in and of itself. It’s an original song, which is a welcome respite from the usual Christmas music catalogue played on soft rock radio stations during the holidays, and it’s just fun. It’s upbeat and makes you want to dance around the Christmas tree while eating cookies and watching the snow fall outside. In fact, in college, my friend and I even made up a dance – quite literally made up a dance on the spot – to this song and the non-impressive moves were the highlight of the holiday season every year.