The first Billboard Mexican Music Awards on Thursday night showcased a new generation of regional Mexican artists who are leading the evolution of the genre. The awards show will reach out to wide audiences, offering a fresh take on Regional Mexican Music when it airs on Telemundo October 27, without alienating its many fans.
The first award of the night, for Artist of the Year, Male, went to 22-year-old Gerardo Ortiz, who, as the night's biggest winner, received six awards in total. Later in the show, Ortiz, who calls his songs "progressive corridos", performed "Ese Amor", his Spanish cover of Bob Marley's "Is This Love" led by accordion. Dressed in a red and black leather jacket and pants, the singer swayed about the stage accompanied by dancers dressed in the colors of the Jamaican flag.
A performance by Songs Artist of the Year winner Larry Hernandez quite literally presented the idea of Regional Mexican music as universal entertainment. Hernandez appeared as the ringmaster of a circus-themed set that included jugglers, a unicyclist, and a stilt walker.
While the show focused on younger artists, it also appealed to fans of traditional Mexican musical styles. Co-host Pedro Fernandez sang his hit ballad "Amarte a la Antigua", dressed in a charro suit and cape. Spanish singer Shaila Durcal sang with the Mariachi Sol de Mexico
Actress Kate del Castillo, who hosted the show with Fernandez, channeled her tough-talking character Teresa Mendoza from the wildly popular telenovela "La Reina del Sur" for several short but riveting monologues.
"You listen to the music and it goes down to your bones," she said, in a dramatic introduction to torch singer Paquita la del Barrio. "Only Mexicans have that kind of feeling."
That emotion was delivered onstage by La del Barrio, who is known for songs that speak out for women and against macho culture. Her career was honored with Billboard's La Voz (The Voice Award). Accompanied by Mariachi, she cried as she sang.
On stage with a rock band and classical musicians, Jenni Rivera, the female Artist of the Year, gave another of the evening's more dramatic performances with "Basta Ya", a song written by Marco Antonio Solis and popularized by Olga Tañon in 1996.
"I'm very happy that [growing up] in the U.S. my parents taught me their Mexican music," Rivera said upon accepting her award. "And with that music I've been able to defend and support my family."
Most of the winning artists were reserved at the podium, saying few words beyond thank you. In a poignant moment, Los Inquietos del Norte and the classic "Mexico Lindo y Querido" a capella as they accepted their award for Norteño Album of the Year.
The awards show closed with the teenage electronic outfit 3Ball MTY, performing their song "Intentalo", which has gotten almost four million hits on Youtube. The DJs were joined by dancers wearing the extremely long-toed, pointy boots that, like their "tribal guarachero" music, is a club trend that's heading North, Awards co-host Fernandez called it "the future of regional Mexican music."