How Well Do You Remember '90s MTV?

By: Bambi Turner
Image: MTV

About This Quiz

MTV hit the airwaves in 1981 with the announcement, "Ladies and gentleman -- rock and roll" before launching into "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. While videos and even music are scarce at times on MTV in the 2010s, the network was just finding its stride in the '90s, masterfully blending music from every genre with hip personalities and classic programming. 

The decade saw MTV creating unforgettable events out of premieres from Nirvana, Britney Spears, Live and other acts, as well as the premiere of some of the earliest reality shows to hit television, including "The Real World" and "Road Rules." The decade is remembered for unforgettable "Unplugged Moments," insane awards show performances and fights, and of course, the premiere of teen favorite "Total Request Live."

It was a less polished MTV than the one you'll see today, but it was also an era of great journalism in the music world and beyond, including MTV's unique look at sports, the news and the issues facing its audience.

Think you can remember the people and events that characterized '90s MTV? Take our quiz to find out! 

Carson Daly was a California DJ when he was tapped to host MTV's "Motel California" in the '90s. When MTV was ready to premiere its top ten video program "Total Request Live," Daly was a natural choice to play host.

From 1997 to 2002, MTV aired an animated series about a girl named Daria with a droll sense of humor. "Daria" took place at Lawndale High School and used "You're Standing on My Neck" as its theme song.

"Beavis and Butt-head" started on MTV in the early '90s as a cartoon short on "Liquid Television. The Mike Judge series lasted for seven seasons as viewers watched the guys attend Highland High and try too hard to be "cool."

"Total Request Live" premiered in 1998 and ran every weekday until 2003. Affectionately known as "TRL," the show included the top ten videos of the day as well as celebrity interviews and a live studio audience.

"MTV Sports" ran from 1992 to 1997. Dan Cortese was the original host, but he was replaced by volleyball star and model Gabrielle Reece after a couple of years. The show focused on extreme sports like BASE jumping and inline skating rather than more traditional sports.

Adam Carolla hosted a radio series called "Loveline" where he answered relationship and sex questions from listeners. In 1996, the show was moved to television and premiered on MTV. Carolla later left to star on "The Man Show" with Jimmy Kimmel.

"Road Rules" took the concept of "The Real World" on the road, putting a group of strangers in an RV and having them travel the country, performing wild stunts. The show premiered in 1995, and has since morphed into "The Challenge," which premiered its 32nd season in 2018.

The MTV game show "Idiot Savants" aired from 1996 to 1997. The show featured a quartet of contestants appearing for a full week, with each selecting an expert, or savant category.

MTV's show "Cribs" premiered in 2000, and featured stars giving tours of their own homes. The first episode took viewers inside the homes of Moby, Jewel and the Osbournes.

Julie Brown was a London actress and disco dancing champion when she loved to the U.S. She served as the host of "Club MTV" from 1987 to 1992 under the nickname Downtown Julie Brown.

Adam Curry was an early MTV VJ known for headlining "Headbangers' Ball" and "Top 20 Video Countdown." Back when the internet wasn't really a big deal, he personally registered a little domain you may have heard of -- mtv.com. The network eventually ended up with control of the domain, and many today call Curry the Podfather for his early work in podcasting.

Dating show "Singled Out" aired on MTV from 1995 to 1998. Hosted by stars like Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra, it featured a dating pool of 50 people, all trying to win the attention of the contestant -- known as the Picker.

Yes, Weird Al had his own MTV series called "Al TV." The show featured Al playing his own random music videos, hosting fake interviews and performing silly skits.

Before she was known for her controversial stance on vaccinations, Jenny McCarthy had her own show on MTV. "The Jenny McCarthy Show" aired for a single season in 1997, and featured variety and comedy sketch acts.

Before he was a huge movie star, Ben Stiller was just a comedian who starred in "The Ben Stiller Show" on MTV. He brought on guests like Andy Dick and Janeane Garofalo, as well as his own parents -- show biz legends Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller.

Dr. Drew Pinsky played the straight-laced counterpart to Adam Carolla on "Loveline." Twenty years later, he's still on MTV, hosting shows like the "Teen Mom" reunions.

"The Tom Green Show" aired on MTV from 1999 to 2000. Green performed sketches and pulled pranks, and let's not forget his classic hit song, "The Bum Bum Song."

Pauly Shore was a huge part of the MTV family in the '90s. His series "Totally Pauly" ran from 1990 to 1995, and featured the comedian doing man on the street segments and introducing music videos.

Kennedy was one of the first MTV VJs and played host to "Alternative Nation" from 1992 to 1997. She played videos by alt-rock bands like Oasis, Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

For some inexplicable reason, "The Sifl and Olly Show" ran on MTV from 1997 to 1999. The show featured a pair of sock puppets, who did comedy acts with their assistant Chester.

No, not that Dr. Dre from NWA. "Yo! MTV Raps" ran from 1988 to 1995, with Andre "Doctor Dré" Brown, Fab 5 Freddy and Ed Lover -- who made The Ed Lover Dance famous -- playing host.

"Catwalk" ran from 1992 to 1994 on MTV. The show featured a group of friends who lived in a loft and formed a band called Catwalk, with a young Neve Campbell on the keyboard.

"Celebrity Deathmatch" was a chart-topping series about claymation figures fighting it out in the wrestling ring. Mills Lane played referee, with Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond as host. Famous matches included Dolly Parton vs. JLo and Hanson vs. The Spice Girls.

The bizarre MTV cartoon "The Head" ran from 1994 to 1996. It featured a guy named Jim who woke up with a giant head one day. Eventually, an alien named Roy pops out of his head and joins Jim on a quest to save the world from alien invasion.

The VMA's premiered in 1984, and it was still going strong all the way through the '90s. At the 1990 event, Madonna performed her song "Vogue" dressed as Marie Antoinette. She made headlines again in 1993 with a gender-bending VMA performance of "Bye Bye Baby."

Matt Pinfield hosted "120 Minutes" on MTV from 1995 to 1999. Pinfield was also brought back in 2011 to host a revival of the classic alt-rock program for the network.

On a 1994 episode of "120 Minutes," Thurston Moore conducted an interview with musician Beck that was truly bizarre and confusing for viewers. The awkwardness must have gone away over the years because Beck ended up producing a solo album for Moore in 2010.

Courtney Love and Hole performed their song "Violet " at the 1995 VMAs, then tore up with the stage. After the show, Love threw makeup compacts at Madonna as she was interviewed by Kurt Loder.

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley shocked the audience with a steamy kiss at the 1994 VMAs. The pair got married that same year but had split up by 1996.

She's a pop sensation, but she isn't exactly known for her singing voice. While artists from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan graced the "Unplugged" stage, Britney Spears never appeared on the show.

"The Real World" premiered in 1992, featuring a cast of strangers picked to live in New York City. The show was a huge hit, and the 32nd season of "The Real World" aired in 2017.

RuPaul and Milton Berle were paired up to present an award at the 1993 VMAs. The pair bickered the entire time, with RuPaul accusing Berle of wearing adult diapers. RuPaul later said the attack was prompted by Berle grabbing her fake breasts backstage.

Lil' Kim made jaws drop at the 1999 VMAs when she wore a one-shouldered design, with only a pasty covering one breast. Diana Ross upped the awkwardness factor when she patted the exposed breast when the pair met on stage to present an award.

In 1998, MTV staff picked a handful of people from outside of the Times Square studio and had them compete to become a VJ. Jesse Camp was the winner, though runner up Dave Holmes actually ended up with a longer VJ career.

It was Manson vs. Manson in a much hyped Manson match to the death. Of course, Marilyn won; as a "Celebrity Deathmatch" rule, he never lost a match.

Britney Spears' career was just beginning to blow up when she made her VMA debut in 1999 with "...Baby One More Time." NSYNC followed her performance with "Tearin' Up My Heart."

Nirvana changed the "Unplugged" formula with their 1993 set. Rather than recording stripped down versions of their hits, they mostly played covers of classic songs by others.

"Choose or Lose" was a 1992 MTV campaign aimed at encouraging viewers to vote. The campaign was so successful that it won a Peabody Award.

Fiona Apple had a lot to say during her 1997 VMA acceptance speech. Holding her Best New Artist Award, she tore apart the concept of celebrity culture.

Kurt Loder joined MTV in 1987, and quickly picked up hosting duties on "The Week in Rock." The show later evolved into "MTV News," which Loder spent years hosting, even breaking Kurt Cobain's death to MTV viewers.

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