Question: What your iPod plays when you hit shuffle, or, just a handful of artists who turned out to give TRL (née, Total Request Live) a heavy-hitting sendoff?
MTV's pioneering video countdown show signed off Sunday evening with a two-hour finale just bursting with live in-studio performances; appearances via satellite; and, the special's real raison d'etre, 10 years' worth of clips and reminiscences. (A big favorite: young 'N Sync standout Timberlake saying how cool it would be to date fellow burgeoning pop star Britney Spears.)
Beyoncé, who first visited TRL as a member of Destiny's Child, started the bittersweet celebration off with a bang, proffering a combo platter of "If I Were a Boy," "Single Ladies" and "Crazy in Love."
As has been the case for 10 years, everyone lucky enough to be sitting inside TRL's Times Square studio was lovin' it, and the tweeny bopper mob outside oohed and aahed at the humongous video screens that let them in on the action.
Carson Daly (as well as former veejays Hilarie Burton, Vanessa Minnillo, Jesse Camp, La La, Dave Holmes and more) also showed up to help host-of-the-moment Damien Fahey count down the 10 videos that helped defined TRL's place in the zeitgeist, starting with Outkast's "Hey Ya."
Other good times had tonight:
• Recent high school grad Taylor Swift's responsibility for the night was to get all of the celebs milling around to sign the official TRL yearbook.
• Miley Cyrus trying to outshine every other artist in the TRL photo booth with glam shades and many pouty faces.
• Travis Barker, in his first interview since being badly burned in a plane crash, telling the crowd via satellite that "every day gets better" and he's "already playing my drums again" and is back in the studio.
• Sean "Diddy" Combs making his 37th appearance on TRL, less than two weeks after he marked his 36th by celebrating Barack Obama's presidential victory with the crowd.
• Timberlake and fellow ex-boy-bander JC Chasez returning to the scene of the crime. "TRL was so integral to our careers, so it was really trippy and awesome to go," Timberlake said of being there.
TRL, which premiered in 1998 and was averaging nearly 761,000 viewers per day at the height of its success, saw its numbers dwindle to about 332,000, as MTV packed its schedule with reality programming and the Internet and countless other methods of accessing music siphoned away massive chunks of the show's target teenage and young-adult audience.
But once upon a time, TRL was destination afterschool viewing, and, as shows like The Hills and Paris Hilton's My New BFF turn MTV into Miscellaneous Video Television, we leave you with a reminder of just how cool 3 p.m. used to be.