Why do italian say ‘gettonato’ to indicate a person who is very successful or an object that is in high demand?

Often in Italian, especially when talking about radio hits, we say that a song or a singer is very gettonato. The expression means that the song in question or the artist is in high demand and, therefore, very popular.

The expression comes from the television programme Festivalbar, which for over 30 years was the national point of reference for youngsters’ music. This singing competition, invented by Vittorio Salvetti took place in the summer and included travelling concerts throughout Italy. During these concerts, Italian and international singers who had achieved success thanks to their songs’ popularity in bars performed live, hence the name of the program.

In fact, in 1964, when Festivalbar was born, the measurement of the public's preferences took place through juke boxes scattered throughout Italy. Each device was equipped with a counter to detect how many times a piece was selected by listeners. Juke boxes  were operated by inserting a coin or token (gettone) and so the most listened to songs became the most gettonati. At the end of the summer, the winner of the festival was decided by counting the tokens.

Festivalbar remains an indelible memory for many Italians who were young between the eighties and the nineties, as most of the so-called summer hits were launched on that stage and many emerging artists found a space devoted to them thanks to the introduction of a special prize for new talents.

Festivalbar has also brought good luck to many presenters who, like Amadeus and Fiorello, are now considered leading Italian entertainers.

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