Martin Witteveen

Romantic pop singer/songwriter Axel was the big winner at Argentina’s Premios Gardel on June 1. Axel took home the Gardel de Oro, the top prize at the annual awards honoring Argentine music awards. He also won best album by a male artist for Tu Ojos, Mis Ojos and song of the year (“Afinidad”).

The awards were presented during a televised show from Buenos Aires Gran Rex theater, on what is considered the biggest night of the year for Argentine music. Twenty-one of the awards -- statuettes of tango icon Carlos Gardel -- were presented to artists at a pre-show ceremony at the Confiteria Ideal, an iconic tango dancehall around the corner form the theater that dates back to 1912.

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A national phenomenon, Axel was the Gardels’ top nominee, with six nods. Artists more familiar to the U.S. Latin audience also took home awards, which were presented in 45 categories and decided by votes from 500 producers, musicians, journalists and other Argentine music industry professionals.

Andrés Calamaro won solo best rock album for his Jamón del Medio, with fellow Argentine rock scene veterans Bersuit Vergarabat taking out the best rock album by a group category (El Baile Interior). The effervescent and campy duo  Miranda! nabbed best pop album for Safari. Latin Grammy winners Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas took best DVD. Oscar-winning composer and Bajofondo founder Gustavo Santaolalla this time won the best engineer award, for his solo album Camino. Raiz Spinetta, a recording of versions of songs by the late rocker Luis Alberto Spinetta by some 60 artists, won best conceptual album.

Other wins included teen sensation Lali, who won both best album by a female artist and best new pop artist. Argentine techno pioneer Daniel Melero won the best electronic music category together with Carlos Cutaia, for their album Cutaia Melero.

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In the tango categories, Pablo Estigarribia won the best album by a new tango artist prize for his Tangos Para Piano. Adriana Varela was awarded best tango album by a female artist, while Ariel Ardit and his orchestra took the best tango album by a male artist prize.

Musician and radio and TV host Roberto Pettinato hosted the Premios Gardel show together with Spinetta’s daughter, Catarina Spinetta, an actress and DJ. The show included a tango tribute to bandoneon player Leopoldo Federico, and a homage to other artists who died in 2014, including Gustavo Cerati and Charly Garcia guitarist Carlos Garcia Lopez.