Cuban filmmaker Ian Padron (left) receiving the Year’s Best Music Video Award. Photo: Yander Zamora
Daniel Benitez (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — The super-hit Bailando (“Dancing”), selected Song of the Year at the 2014 Latin Grammys, whose official version has had over 567 million views on YouTube, has made it to the top of the list in all countries around the world save Cuba, where it was unable to secure the Most Popular Music Video of the year trophy.
The decision was as surprising as it was inexplicable. The piece, sung by Cuban artist Descemer Bueno and the band Gente de Zona and featuring Spanish singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias, was defeated at Cuba’s 2014 Lucas awards by the local band Angeles and their unsophisticated Besando tu boca (“To Kiss Your Mouth”).
This year’s Lucas awards ceremony – created 17 years ago to acknowledge the best of Cuban music production – was loaded with controversy, prompted by one of the year’s award recipients, filmmaker Ian Padron, who asked that the award selection process be reviewed.
Buena Fe vs Gente de Zona
According to Padron, who walked away with the Year’s Best Music Video Award, “it makes no sense for a music video whose editors, photographers and directors haven’t received any awards to be acknowledged this way.”
Padron was given the award for his music video for the song Se bota a matar, by the duo Buena Fe and featuring dancers from the group Havana Queens.
If this decision by the jury is difficult to understand, the fact that a song with a little over 24 thousand views on YouTube should dethrone another with more than 567 million is even more enigmatic. Apparently, the lack of Internet access on the island also has an impact on these awards.
Bailando didn’t even win the Most Popular Music Video Award, given this year to the band Angeles for their rendition of Manuel Ortega’s Besando tu boca.
The Spanish language version of Bailando’s music video was directed by Alejandro Perez, a renowned Cuban cinematographer with extensive experience in the field. As a kind of consolation, Perez received five awards that night – and only one for Bailando, for best Choreography.
The Granma Newspaper Critic
During his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony held in Havana’s Karl Marx Theater this past Saturday, Padron praised Perez for “having placed Cuba’s name high up around the world.”
This past Tuesday, journalist Michel Hernandez, cultural commentator for Granma and member of the Lucas Award jury, indirectly mentioned the number, without mentioning the title of the song or the reasons for its neglect at the ceremony.
“Truth be told, there is no way of defending some of these pieces, and here I’m thinking of the chorus of a song that is popular among a fringe of adolescents who are probably no older than 16, a group of people who insist they want to lead a wild life a la Europe, something which Europeans themselves would likely find difficult to understand,” Hernandez wrote in an article title Lucas sin balon de oxigeno (“Lucas Without an Oxygen Tank”).
Bailando had been nominated in five categories: Most Popular Music Video, Making Of, Fusion, Production and Choreography. Perez, the cinematographer with the most nominations, walked away with awards for Ivette’s Cepeda Alce mi voz (“I Raised My Voice”) for Best Traditional and Folkloric Music and Best Cinematography.
Over 300 Music Videos
The competition received more than 300 music videos and its jury members were journalists Paquita de Armas, Michel Hernandez and Yuris Norido, television directors Frank Lage, Javier Orizondo and Marcos Castillo, director of photography Raul Rodrigfuez, filmmaker Elena Palacios and sound designer Livan Magdaleno.
In addition to the Song of the Year Award at the Latin Grammys, Iglesias, Gente de Zona and Descemer Bueno walked away with the Best Urban Song and Best Urban Performance Awards.
Following the commercial success of the single, Gente de Zona, a Cuban reggaeton band, has managed to break into the US market, recording songs that feature renowned artists like Pitbull and Chino y Nacho.
Currently, the band is on tour with Enrique Iglesias. Descemer is scheduled to stage a concert in Miami in March of 2015.