Sensuality, Ricky Martin and English Impersonation

Spanish speaking people to conquer the world this time.

OK so if after my 70 + blogs its not clear I am a fan of latin pop (and Spanish guitar on occasion) I will make it clear now, that I am a big fan. Since I was 15, whatever genre hits my fancy – I always turn back to salsa and latin pop. It is luscious, fast melody which I have always related to. It makes me want to dance. It makes me happy.

Enrique Iglesias. Ricky martin. Maluma. Shakira. Celia Cruz.
What do they have in common? Off the scale sensuality, stage presence and awesome songs.
Why do the Americans make fun of these Latin singers? Who cares. They are hilarious!
And why is that?
Western performers can’t perform with the same comfort, expression, hedonistic and sensual prowess the Latinos naturally put in their moves.

Think tropical climate. Large rainforest. Huge parrots. Juicy mangos, African drums. Spanish racquets. Beaches and mountains. Ricky calls it hedonistic, and I don’t know why I never thought it WAS before. Perhaps when you live in the middle of something termed hedonistic, you never analyse it because it is normal.

I’m from an Eastern European background and that already means I’m half Latina; big on food, family, culture sometimes tantrums, dance and hard work. We also love dressing up and celebrating hard.

Fun fact: In the 1990s the communist, socialist former states of USSR depended on Latin American telenovelas to ‘reposition’ their view of the world in capitalist times.
And it gave my great grandpa something nice to watch and look forward to. “why is that wonderful beautiful girl going after that horrible rich man?”

Jimmy Kimmel impersonating Enrique Iglesias: ” tennis is not SEXY enough for me ” Mustering a heated stare at the crowd. Meanwhile Enrique Iglesias is quiet and shy as a person not performing; but as he watches anything, you think he just smoulders.

Benji Madden at the Voice Australia impersonating Ricky Martin: “tell me” *hand gesture*, “what is music to you?”
I was laughing until I realized personalities such as the one in ‘Bailamos’, ‘I’m not in love’, ‘Chantaje’, ‘Rie y Llora,’ ‘La Negra Tiene Tumbao’, ‘Escape’, ‘Tonight I’m Loving You’, ‘Duele el Corazon’, ‘Livin’ la vida loca’, ‘La copa di la vida’ and ‘La bomba’ – one after the other, just showcase lots of work and PASSION.

They believe in their work and they are made for their work. Now thats unique: people who fit their jobs. Try getting kylie minogue to do the job of ricky martin. She is her brand, special and beautiful and bridged the gap between pop and electro but she is too stiff and English to have the suave, sexy and owning performance of Ricky Martin. And he is his own brand.

These are the Spanish speaking and English-speaking parts of the world. How can you even start to compare the cultures?
In the context of breaking into the U.S. of A – a place I have never yet been to but somehow make best friends with its citizens – I understood this much:

English was ‘first’… By that logic someone has to break into that market from the Latin American world. And that somebody by all records, was Ricky Martin. There is a distinct differentiation between him and the rest of the latinos who came to the market: friendly, accessible vibes that were a pure mix of salsa, rock guitar, and some other genres. Between the Grammy Awards and FIFA (he stated his gratitude for that stage of exposure), his albums knocked out the English-speaking world. You hear the trumpets ONCE and you want to keep watching the performance.

It is bold. It is sensual. Ricky Martin likes taking the stage, and it looks like the stage loves him back.
If you have ever seen a symphony, a stage is supposed to do the same thing no matter what music gets played. Vibrations out, vibrations in.

There is something fundamentally earth-shattering in the artists when they go take to the stage around the world singing the songs they passionately believe in, for a good half a year. I respect that, because if they believe in the songs and enact their performance – that’s what they get paid for, but ultimately it’s also their brand they’re enacting.

Something that got to me – after listening to Spanish tenors, Enrique’s pop, dance and romantic songs, Maluma, Celia cruz and Shakira’s styles – Ricky Martin will always be the top in the English speaking world because not only did he break markets for the Latin American singers, but he brings a fiery passion he owns and his music is somehow to this day, fit for families. Friendly. There is sensuality but it is not heavy sexuality like in other artists’ music. He relates to the drums, to letting go and feeling good, celebration. He is earnest and authentic. Even that detail captivates the camera if you just watch him in interviews circa 1998.

Yes, I am a fan. And a learner.
By contrast, hits like Kylie Minogue… Benji Madden – Not going to wiz past a load of genres, but all music is a reflection, expression and experimentation. It can also be a record in the sense of recording what’s happened. These two brands are rock and pop, and have their own magic. For Kylie it was an accident to dive into music but it made her into the music goddess she is. For me it’s like a flashback of the 90s melodies that I actually starve for. The era of serious disco, when you lived for it.

So what is it that I’m really trying to say, past the comedy and cultures and music fusions and personalities? Perhaps, ultimately, Thank God there is music out there that I can identify with and that makes me happy – something different, something juicy, to make me move. To make me feel good. In a time when I knew I was different one way or another and trying to assimilate into a crowd that was too privileged and monogamous for me (privileged white Australians) salsa music always hit the spot where I could move freely. Comedy contrasts cultures and understandings which is my life.

Sensuality, English impersonation: what it is, is that the artists’ brand is made fun of because no westerner can achieve what they see on screen. At the same time the Latinos prove why they’re taking over the market – astute, fantastic performers, easy lyrics and passionate, catchy melodies.
Like I said to someone regarding going out with a certain Spaniard: ‘They’re hard to say no to.’


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