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“It was like professional wrestling,” says Healy of the warring tribes.
“The heels versus the baby faces.” R&B and hip-hop stars also figured prominently, albeit rarely collecting the most votes from the predominantly white viewership. In 1999, at the zenith of the teen-pop boom, the show averaged 853,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, and helped establish tween and teen girls as not just a flush consumer group, but one whose aesthetic choices had just as much value and integrity as their broseph counterparts (this came to be called “poptimism” in music-critic circles).
“We always called the third spot on the countdown ‘the Korn spot’ because they could never get past number three,” says Kusbit.
In fact, Korn had four videos “retired” from , and Limp Bizkit six.
“We loved our city and wanted it to look great to the rest of the world,” says Mc Grath.
“The second week,” says Kusbit, “a girl showed up outside with a sign that says, ‘Hey Carson, Let Me Up.’ The third week, there were 30 kids out there.” At a company meeting at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, Kusbit and co-creator Tony Di Santo presented a new idea to their bosses.
“We secretly shipped a bunch of kids to Gurney’s and had them line up outside these big windows, with the shades drawn,” says Di Santo.
Daly left in 2003, and now hosts the musical talent show .
And the existential dilemma regarding music videos that nagged at MTV execs in the ’90s seems quaint today, as millennials have all but abandoned or ignored the network’s programming during the past decade.
Seemingly out of ideas, MTV has opted to hit the rewind button, dialing up a new version of NBC’s gross-out game show , now largely absent videos and requests, but still with bracingly upbeat hosts, a vista of Times Square, and teens who squeal on cue.