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Before Carson Daly got his own NBC talk show, fronted The Voice or joined Today, he was the host of MTV’s Total Request Live (or TRL), which gave audiences a chance to listen to the ten most requested music videos of that day. Only, it looks like sometimes those “requests” were completely made up by the show’s producers. Is nothing sacred in this world?!?
This revelation, if that’s what you agree to call it, was put forth by none other than Tom Green, the Canadian comedian who made a name for himself doing shocking and disgusting things on TV and treating his parents like crap. He is perhaps remembered best for his song “Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song),” in which he sang about putting his ass on things. In a testament to sincere fandom, Green’s followers got the song all the way up to #1 on TRL after it was released, topping songs by chart regulars like N’Sync, but it didn’t stay up there for long, and that’s when MTV’s foul play enters the picture.
Green shared this story on a past episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, in which he claims MTV execs called him up and told him to go on TRL to “retire” the song. Why? Because Carson Daly was going on vacation that next week, and they’d already taped the following week’s episodes ahead of time, which means everyone’s votes during that time were all for naught. No one was anticipating that “The Bum Bum Song” would be such a smash hit, and since the execs couldn’t very well reveal that MTV was fine with straight up lying about request results, they made Green seal his own fate.
Green, whose The Tom Green Show was an oddball hit for the cable network, explained his viewpoint and later regrets in following their advice.
I didn’t want to get fired. Everyone was already mad at me over all this shit, screaming at me all day long because I wanted to suck milk out of a cow’s udder. We were arguing non-stop. It was the most stressful time of my life. I played ball…We could have rode that thing even further. I could have put out a record and had some fun with it.
Such a move wouldn’t be nearly as damning for a musician now, as MTV has largely done away with playing music, and videos aren’t nearly as effective as the Internet in terms of making a song popular. And I’m all about Green putting out another album with his rap group Organized Rhyme at some point. Relive “The Bum Bum Song” in all of its bum-putting glory below.
That was hardly the only time that MTV did backhanded shit to help themselves out or appeal to audiences. It didn’t take them long before they started casting The Real World housemates specifically to draw out the drama, and it was revealed not too long ago that Pimp My Ride quite often stretched the truth to the point of snapping. Next they’re going to tell me Scream isn’t based on a true story.