The diversity of Latin America's pop and rock music was fully exposed Thursday night in Miami Beach, as the first Video Music Awards Latin America took place at the James L. Knight Center, with Colombia's Shakira reigning supreme.
Shakira won all five awards for which she was nominated — Artist of the Year, Video of the Year, Female Artist, Pop Artist and Best Artist North — leaving no space for competition. Clad in a low-profile rocker outfit, Shakira jumped when presented with her first tongue-shaped statuette.
"What's this award? Explain this to me, please," she said as she grabbed the award for Female Artist. Before a video explained that the tongue was meant to symbolize the language that unifies the countries from Mexico down to Argentina (with the exception, of Portuguese-speaking Brazil and English-speaking Belize), Shakira was up for a second award. Mexican rock legend Alex Lora, a singer for almost four decades who's still active in the outfit El Tri, called it "the horny tongue."
"Two is better," Shakira said with a smile while holding the Video of the Year award for "Whenever, Wherever" before she dedicated it to director Francis Lawrence. The ritual was repeated on camera just one more time, as two of the other prizes she was awarded were left out of the 147-minute-long show aired live in Spanish on MTV2, and scheduled to be shown with subtitles on MTV November 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Dressed with the same silver shirt and blue jeans she wore for her musical performance — a blues rock rendition of her 1998 hit "Inevitable," from her Spanish-language album Donde Estan los Ladrones? — Shakira got her fifth award.
"I can't believe this — I can't control my tongue, so it's hard to imagine how I'll be able to control all of them!" Shakira joked before going into an emotional speech dedicated to the people who have supported her even while going through hard times themselves. She was no doubt alluding to her Argentine boyfriend Antonio, son of ex-president Fernando de la Rua, who resigned last December after social turmoil in his country.
Other winners included Chilean rock band La Ley, who went home with two awards (for Rock Artist and Best Group); Colombian folk rock singer Juanes (Male Artist), Argentinean pop singer Diego Torres (Best Artist South) and French alt-god Manu Chao (Alternative Artist).
The first VMALA kicked off on a high note, with the video screen showing a taped message from the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger valiantly reading in Spanish, "We're here to celebrate one of the most sexy places in the planet, with the best fans of the universe." Right after Jagger predicted that "this will be the most watched TV show in Spanish TV history" — more than a possibility, considering it was transmitted live to 410 million homes around the globe — Keith Richards started the fire by introducing Carlos Santana.
Sharing the stage with the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards Viewer's Choice winner, Michelle Branch, Santana played his glorious guitar for his new song "The Game of Love." Santana later came back to the stage to introduce Mexican supergroup Mana's new single, "Angel de Amor," and spoke about angels in his evergreen mystical tone.
Highlights of the night also included the sets from Los Angeles' System of a Down and Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne, who got the award for Best New Artist International. Both acts played the hit singles that reached the Latin American audience. Lavigne sang "Complicated," crisscrossing the stage over and over, nodding her head and getting screams back at her. More head-bobbing came with System of a Down's "Chop Suey!," delivered energetically, just the way the Latin rockers are supposed to like it.
Mexican alt-rock band Café Tacuba set the best example of Latin American integration, as they showed up after a long hiatus with an augmented lineup for a cover of a number by the now-defunct Chilean rock band Los Tres. The delicate yet powerful rendition of "Olor a Gas" with Los Tres singer Alvaro Henriquez onstage, plus backup from three of the alternative Latin rock singers who — to the American eye — are hiding in Shakira's shadow (Argentinean Erica Garcia, Chilean Javiera Parra and Mexican Ely Guerra) set the song above the rest of the performances.
Less effective but still strong were some other onstage collabos: Mexican hard rock act Molotov and Colombian Juanes, who followed Santana's opening, and hot new Mexican dance band Kinky teamed up with Paulina Rubio to formally close the show with the Mexican golden girl dressed as Wonder Woman to sing the Kiss classic "I Was Made for Lovin' You."
Among the presenters at the VMALA were such celebrities as Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter and Howie D., European sensation Anastacia, Johnny Knoxville and his "Jackass" pals, Iggy Pop, and a videotaped Anthony Kiedis speaking a funny and broken Spanish. The first Lifetime Achievement Award given by MTV Latin America went to Argentinean trio Soda Stereo, whose members got together onstage for the first time in five years after their farewell tour in 1997.
Catch all the sizzlin', star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News' preshow kicks things off at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.