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Do you remember TRL?

The MTV Italia cult show that became a real phenomenon

Do you remember TRL?  The MTV Italia cult show that became a real phenomenon

On November 2, 1999, the first episode of Total Request Live (TRL) aired on MTV Italy. In a very short period of time the show became a cult and an unmissable event for millions of teenagers, who would watch the program everyday right after school. 

This sort of pre-social media liturgy was marked by the format of TRL which alternated live performances of the music idols of the moment, to the chart of the most voted music videos and columns such as "vj per caso". This was the moment when a lucky fan had the chance to launch one of the 10 songs on the chart. Another strategy adopted to shorten the distances with the spectators were the texts that everyone could send and that would then appear on the screen during the show, with a function similar to the one of posts on the social media and tweets today. The link between all these moments were the vjs, young hosts who animated the various moments of the music channel. In about 10 years in which TRL was on the air (from 1999 to 2010) there were Alessandro Cattelan, Carlo Pastore, Federico Russo, Carolina Di Domenico, Elisabetta Canalis, Elena Santarelli, and the first Marco Maccarini and Giorgia Surina.

Always with a partner, they had to entertain thousands of viewers and, above all, interview the guests, often having to manage moody and grumpy stars who hated taking part in the show. The first ever guest was Ligabue, followed by a very long list that includes Tiziano Ferro, Green Day, Nelly Furtado, Blue, Backstreet Boys, Subsonica, Justin Timberlake, Avril Lavigne, Cesare Cremonini, Thirty Seconds to Mars. In order to meet them, every day a crowd of fans armed with posters and patience waited on the street outside the studio, which over the course of the seasons had different locations: from Spazio Fiorucci in San Babila to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, up to the most famous place in Piazza Duomo, to the on the road version travelling around Italy. 

If Britney Spears was the star who attracted the greatest number of people, the protagonists of the true cult moments of TRL, still remembered today, were others: Dave Grohl, Beyoncé and Oasis. The former Nirvana drummer appeared on video right after a live performance by Gemelli Diversi and expressed his opinion on the band: "che schiffo". Giorgia tried to pretend that the American star was only joking, but nobody bought it. 

Gallagher brothers participated, separately, twice at the MTV show. A similar scene repeated itself about four years later, this time with Liam answering Carlo Pastore's questions and, at the funny attempt of the vj to join the Oasis, Gallagher told him he'd better join Coldplay (revealing that he was among those who considered them the worst band ever existed).

In 2007 Beyoncé was in Milan to promote Diamonds, Armani's perfume of which she was testimonial. Alessandro Cattelan took the opportunity to smell her neck and she wasn't thrilled about it. 

Last year, MTV America chose to broadcast TRL again, live from a huge studio in front of Times Square, to use it as a focus around which to reinvent the entire television channel.Following the news, many hoped that the same would happen with the Italian version, but, until now, no decision to reboot the show has been announceed. So, all the fans can do is to watch old episodes, remembering and pretending to be still a teenager, but, sometimes, also discover new details. Like, for example, that the vest was the must-have item of every vj or that the day of the first episode Giorgia Surina wore an outfit that looked like a tribute to Papa Smurf. 

TRL was a very important show for many young people of the early 2000s who perhaps, while spending their afternoons with it, never noticed how much it reflected the trends and style of the time. The influence between what Maccarini & co. or every teenager wore and what the big brands presented on the catwalk was mutual. So it could happen that if a vj would often wear a three-striped adidas jacket, many would copy it even in real life, but also that some of the trends that emerged from the Fashion Weeks of the time would become part of the wardrobe of MTV hosts. The looks chosen by the TV station's stylists (including Marcelo Burlon) often matched the personalities of the vjs, but they were never too sophisticated. The keyword for outfits seemed to be pop, meaning international, fresh, achievable, easy. A way to continue to shorten the distances between those who were in front of and behind the television screen. 

Below are some of the looks of the show paired with the collections of different brands from the same period.