Total Request Live

“I hate TRL.” Nick said bitterly as the five us rode in a limo to the MTV studios. “Just throwing that out there.”

I looked out the window in awe. There was something magical about New York City, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Even though I’d grown up in Kentucky, coming to New York always felt like home. Maybe it was because we’d spent so much time in Europe over the years.

“It’s not gonna be that bad.” Howie tried to reassure him. Normally that would have been my line, but in all honesty I was looking forward to it about as much as Nick was.

It was a Sunday morning, and our new album Millennium was about to drop the following Tuesday. All of us were a little tired and on edge. We’d been doing what seemed like endless album promo, and every time I heard the words “tell me why” I got closer to wringing Max Martin’s neck. We were on our way to do a special episode of Total Request Live – two hours of just us and Carson Daly. It was definitely a big day for us.

AJ scoffed. “Not that bad? Dude, they invited Backstreet fans to the taping. Only Backstreet fans. Like, you had to prove you were worthy of going.”

Brian just shook his head. That was my cousin for you, always able to think positively. “It’s gonna be fine.”

“Dude.” AJ eyed him. “Worthy of going.” He repeated, trying to emphasize his point.

Brian rolled his eyes, but still kept that grin plastered on his face. I could tell AJ was beginning to annoy him. “I think we should be thankful there are so many people who want to see us.”

At that point Nick piped up again, as he was always so quick to do. “I get you, AJ.” He said, and the two of them fist bumped.

Brian was quiet after that.

I continued to look out the window, not contributing to the complaining about TRL. It wasn’t that bad of a show. Sure it had it’s screaming girls, but to be honest not many places we went these days didn’t. I’m not trying to be arrogant, it’s just a fact. They can be a little overwhelming at times but at the end of the day they’re our fans, they’re the reason we get to do this.

Sometimes AJ and Nick tend to enjoy them only when it’s convenient, if you get what I’m saying.

“At least there won’t be a top ten countdown today.” Howie tried to break the silence and everyone laughed a little. That was one thing we could agree on – the top ten video countdown was the worst part of any TRL visit. Standing there pretending to give a damn about artists we weren’t overly fond of wasn’t a whole lot of fun, to put it mildly.

Yes, I’m talking about Nsync.

“Wait.” AJ held his hands up. “Does this mean they’re not showing the new Britney video? Because if that’s the case I’m out.”

Nick took his headphones off and laughed at AJ. Recently those two have been hanging around a lot. Not that they didn’t before, being the two youngest and all, but Nick and AJ had become much closer in the past couple of months.

“Give it up. You know she’s banging Timberlake.”

Howie put his head in his hands. “I cannot believe we’re having this conversation again.” He muttered.

I couldn’t either.

“Look D, I’m sorry but we need to settle this.” Nick grinned. The only reason he continued on was because he knew it was pissing Howie off. “All we have to do is come to a unanimous decision on who has the biggest chance with Britney.”

“It aint you, Carter.” AJ wasn’t smiling.

I hate this conversation.

“Please AJ, it is so me.” Nick said. “One, we have already established the fact that she likes blondes.” He motioned towards his hair. “Two, the Gatorade incident.”

All of us groaned. I was sick to death of hearing about Nick’s God damn Gatorade incident.

“She gave you her leftover bottle Nick.” Howie said. See, this is why Howie continues to get harassed by Nick. He eggs him on. Howie just doesn’t know the secret to Nick and AJ. Stay quiet and eventually they will too. Eventually.

“It was half full.” Nick reminded him, his eyes wide. “And she was all, ‘You can have mine, Nick. Tee hee!’”

“Did she actually say that? Did she actually say ‘Tee-hee?” AJ asked. I contemplated recording this conversation so that next time the subject came up, I could just play back the tape. It was always the same.

“It was implied. She said it with her eyes!”

Brian sighed. “Guys, can we please talk about something other than Britney Spears?”

“Not until you all agree.”

“FINE!” Myself, Howie and Brian all exclaimed in unison.

“The only way Britney would hook up with you is because she has a thing for young whiny twerps.” AJ said seriously.

Nick thought for a moment. “I’ll accept that.”

Hallelujah! Maybe I wouldn’t have to record the conversation after all. Of course the whole thing was moot anyway. “You know she hates all of us.” I pointed out, not able to resist.

“I’m sure she doesn’t hate us.” Brian said.

“No, she really hates us.” Howie agreed with me. “You heard the radio interview. She was really pissed off about the album clips and that actually happened, unlike Nicky’s Gatorade incident.”

“It happened.” Nick said, but for once he was ignored.

Sometimes I felt like the pop music industry was one big High School. I’m sure that was a big part of the reason Nick and AJ fit in so well and I thought most of the drama was really childish. It would be nice if everyone could just get along. Or at least be more civil. In front of the microphone.

Fucking Britney.

“Holy shit.” Brian interrupted my thoughts. He didn’t usually cuss, so I was curious as to what was going on. Peering out his window, my eyes grew wide.

We were still a few blocks from Times Square and already the girls were standing on the sidewalks, holding up signs, screaming and anticipating our arrival.

To tell the truth I had been worried about the attendance. We hadn’t put out a new single in so long that I thought that people may have forgotten about us and moved on to Nsync. It was nice to know that I was wrong about that.

“If these are the ones that are standing blocks away, can you imagine the ones that are inside?” AJ said in horror. Sometimes that guy is way too over-dramatic.

Nick leaned over to AJ. “How many girls do you think will cry when they see us?”

Oh for Christ sakes. Arrogant Nick was not who we needed on MTV with us today. I reached over and smacked him upside the head. Sometimes that kid needed to be brought back down to Earth.

“Ow! Dammit Kev, I was only kidding!”

“I’m sure.” I said, raising an eyebrow.

Not wanting me to get the better of him, Nick pointed out the tinted window. “Don’t be jealous.” He said to me. “There’s one girl with your picture on a sign. It even has glitter!”

Have I mentioned lately how much Nick irritates the hell out of me?

“Really guys, we should be thankful. This is incredible.” Howie piped up as we got closer to the MTV studio. The closer we got, the more fans there were, and it looked like some of them were even spilling over to the other streets.

I felt a pang of nervousness. All of these girls were here to see us, and they were waiting for the new album. I hoped it would live up to their expectations and that they’d enjoy it as much as the previous one. I suddenly realized how much bigger fame was than any of the five of us. I don’t think that any of us predicted or even thought we’d have Times Square filled with fans waiting to catch a glimpse of us.

“This isn’t our average TRL appearance, is it?” AJ seemed to read all of our minds. We’d all been somewhat dreading doing the show, but the fact that it was all about an intimate afternoon with our fans was beginning to sink in. The relief I’d felt once we were officially finished recording for Millennium was now replaced with anticipation and worries about the release day.

Nick still hadn’t caught up with the rest of us. Either that or he couldn’t be bothered with being humbled. “What was your first clue? Maybe that it was on a Sunday?” He laughed.

“Can it dipshit! I was trying to have a moment!”

AJ and Nick continued to bicker as we pulled around to the back of the TV station. I took once last glance out of the window before we disappeared into the underground parkade. Somehow MTV looked different. This was the biggest day of our careers to date.

It’s impossible to describe the feeling I had as we walked into the live studio. Seeing all the fans so excited made the year of blood, sweat and tears spent recording that album worth it. It was an unbelievable feeling and unlike any other time we had performed on television before.

I glanced at Nick right before we were met with wall to wall fans. For once even he seemed to be in awe. The screaming was never something we quite got used to, but that day everything was turned up a notch. It was the perfect opportunity for me to start filming for one of those videos the guys never stopped making fun of me for.

I flipped open my camcorder and after getting a shot of the fans outside, I turned around to film the fans in the studio. Instead I was met with Nick’s face.

“Kevin.” He said with a smile on his face. “I love TRL.”


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