As if to show they really meant it, MTV Latin America opened its
first awards show with the big guns -- the Rolling Stones --
greeting the audience on video, in Spanish. Next came legendary
guitarist and pioneering crossover star Carlos Santana, performing
The Game of Love with Michelle Branch.
But from then on, the show was all about Latin America claiming
rock music for its own. The spectacle, broadcast live on MTV2 and
MTV Latin America from Miami Beach's Jackie Gleason Theater, seemed
positively high on the sheer volume of talent on stage -- with no
condescending glorification of Latin culture, just a straight-ahead
celebration of music.
When Mexican metal rappers Molotov blasted the Gleason with their
churning brand of hard-core rock and rap, only to be joined by
Colombian singer Juanes hitting the guitar hard on Mala Gente,
no explanation was needed.
Instead of her usual exotic showgirl shimmy, Shakira -- who was
to capture five awards -- belted out Inevitable, its powerful
guitar and distinctive voice striking a hard musical argument for
her as a star.
Despite the stage hoopla, the winners -- chosen via online votes
by fans -- represented a fairly conventional set of pop tastes.
Shakira's awards included Artist of the Year and Best Female
Artist, for the Spanish songs on her mostly English-language
Cure-esque Chilean group La Ley won Best Rock Artist and Best
Group of the Year. Colombian rocker Juanes picked up Best Male
Artist on the strength of his hit A Dios Le Pido (I'll Ask
God), and Argentine singer-songwriter Diego Torres, whose anthem
Color Esperanza (Color of Hope), has made him an idol in his
troubled home country, won Best Artist Southeast.
Torres injected a serious note. ''We're the only ones who can
change the destiny of Latin America,'' he said after receiving the
Backstage, Santana gave props to Latin America's hard rockers.
''I like Molotov; I like the bands that do music that is raw,'' he
said in perfect Spanish, a language one rarely hears him speak.
``I'm 55, but I like music to be raw, like an egg.''
There was plenty of fun made of hapless Anglos who didn't speak
Spanish and the way North America looks down on South America.
Argentine TV personality Mario Pergolini and Mexican actor Diego
Luna, the co-hosts, started with a skit in which they confronted INS
''agents'' who chased them into the theater, where they asked a
confounded Nick Carter, of the Backstreet Boys: ``Hey man, where's
Backstage, Carter -- speaking through an interpreter -- promised
to do better. ''I'm going to start studying Spanish,'' he said.
``Next time I come here, I don't want to miss anything.''
The MTV Video Music Awards Latin America will be rebroadcast
at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 on MTV.