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Articles Still from the video clip "El Bombazo", by Divan ft. Yomil and El Dany, nominated for Most Popular Video at the Lucas Awards 2019. Photo: Felo / Planet Records / La Oficina Secreta. Still from the video clip "El Bombazo", by Divan ft. Yomil and El Dany, nominated for Most Popular Video at the Lucas Awards 2019. Photo: Felo / Planet Records / La Oficina Secreta.

The most visible sound of our time at the Lucas Awards 2019

Every year around this time, the popular program Lucas stars in a certain way on the country's television scene. As usual, audiovisual producers, musicians, actors, actresses and the general public, eagerly await the largest event dedicated to the Cuban video clip. Audiovisuals of the most diverse aesthetics, musical genres and directors belonging to several generations come together in the same space with the sole purpose of winning at least one award within the contest.

Undoubtedly, one of the most relevant categories within the Lucas Awards is the Most Popular Video. In this, beyond the audiovisual work carried out, the musical proposal itself stands out when the public (the only judge in this category), makes a decision and casts its vote. That is why this section within the contest is a good indicator to form an idea about the musical tastes and preferences of the current Cuban public.

When reviewing, out of curiosity, the list of Nominees for the Lucas Awards 2019, I focused my attention precisely on this category. Without predisposition, when looking carefully at the list of nominated videos, I immediately noticed some aspects that, without the intention of judging, help me to reflect a little on our sound reality.

It is striking and revealing —at least for me— that of a total of ten nominated videos, eight are proposals belonging to the urban music scene. It is no secret to anyone that for several years, reggaeton imposes itself with more and more force within the musical panorama of current Cuba, displacing and even relegating to oblivion other genres that were highly popular in previous years. Let us remember those editions in which proposals such as Bad Quantity, by Carlos Manuel and his Clan (2001); Who was, from Haila (2005); or the Charanga Habanera with The Boni (2003), Oh! Oh Love (2004), with the same crazy (2009), and Luck (2011) (the Charanga phenomenon deserves a separate reflection) won this award, putting popular Cuban dance music in the public's preference. Today these artists have receded into the background, and in their place names such as El Chacal, Yomil y el Danny, Alex Duvall, Gente de Zona and Divan head the list of nominees.

This behavior allows us to have a very clear idea of where the shots are going in terms of consumption and musical preferences in the country. It is worth clarifying that in this specific category, not only the quality of the audiovisual product as such influences (let us bear in mind that most of the public does not have specialized criteria on the world of the video clip), music as raw material and massive artistic manifestation does most of the work.

The fact that out of a total of ten proposals, only two are not limited to urban music (one of popular dance music –I can not stop, by Leoni ft. Gilberto Santa Rosa— and the other belonging to the area of songwriting —bloody bolero, by Buena Fe—) puts us on notice of the state of the distinguished and characteristic genres of Cuban music.

Another element that caught my attention is that of these ten proposals, seven are featurings. Making collaborations has always been an option in any area of musical creation, but for some time now, we could say that more than a possibility it seems like a required subject, especially for urban music artists.

It is not necessary to be very observant to realize that a collaboration between two artists is, to a certain extent, a good promotional strategy, because the popularity that the produced theme can achieve is increased by the confluence of their respective audiences. In fact, for some musicians (I'm not necessarily referring to the nominees this year), it has served as a springboard to get back in the spotlight and in the public's preference.

Joining forces or simply taking advantage of the name of others has become a big business for many a few years ago. Due to the undeniable popularity of reggaeton on the island, several defenders of other genres, mostly from the popular Cuban dance scene, have appealed to this resource of performing featurings with exponents of the urban genre to put a song back on the charts.

So… can you tell what to do featurings Is it a trend within the current Cuban music industry? Are collaborations seen as a promotional strategy for some? Is it valid to use the popularity of others to reposition yourself as an artistic product in the public's preference?

When analyzing the list of nominees in this category, it is obvious that, of the eight reggaeton videos, seven are the product of the Secret Office. It is a fact that this independent production company led by Osmani Espinosa has become one of the most solid spaces for the production, dissemination and management of urban music in the country. Due to the existing feedback between the talent of the artists that make up the Oficina's catalogue, and Osmani's insight to turn them into a high consumption product, the Secret Office has many of the most enjoyed and consumed productions on its payroll. the Cuban public in recent times.

It would seem then, when observing said list of nominees, that only in the Secret Office are quality artistic proposals related to the urban scene obtained. Suddenly, other centers of creation in this sector are rendered invisible by the hegemony of the Office. Where are production companies like La Célula Music and Presidente Record, just to mention two of the best known? Without ignoring the proven acuity of Osmani Espinosa as a producer-manager, or the talent of the artists he represents, it is worth questioning:

Do production companies like Célula Music (very popular a few years ago) not have a quality product that allows them to position themselves in the public's preference? Is there no talent in the urban music scene that isn't tied to the Secret Office? Is Osmani Espinosa a kind of King Midas who turns everything he touches into gold? Has the Secret Office managed to decipher the Lucas code, that is, to determine what canons or aesthetic budgets in its product allow it to successfully dialogue with validation spaces such as the Lucas Awards, while other production companies have not?

In addition to the answers to the above questions, the reality is that once again the efficiency of what we could call the “urban scene production circuit” in Cuba, or at least part of it, has been demonstrated. Whether due to the effectiveness of its main actors (producers, managers, exponents) or the attractiveness of its music, the scope of the genre within the island is increasingly solid and notorious. Beyond the detractors, the lack of support from the institutions, the "rejection" of many Cuban musicians with a great career and leaving aside all kinds of value judgments, it is pertinent to accept that urban music has become the sound most visible of our time.

2019 LUCAS AWARDS NOMINEES MOST POPULAR VIDEO

101 – Leoni Torres and Gilberto Santa Rosa // I can not stop // Dir.: Yeandro Tamayo
106 - Divan // Love you // Dir.: Freddy Loons
115 -Divan and Leoni Torres // What do I take you out of me? // Dir.: Charles Cabrera
120 - Divan and Jacob Forever // Unfaithful // Dir.: Freddy Loons
121 -Alex Duvall and The Jackal // Today what it touches is party // Dir.: Felo
122 -Good faith // bloody bolero // Dir.: Jorge Pentón
132 -Leoni Torres and Local People // Better without you // Dir.: Yeandro Tamayo
137 -Alex Duvall ft. Yomil and El Dany // El Bombazo // Dir.: Felo
139 -Divan and Lenier // Poor heart // Dir.: Freddy Loons
263 -The Jackal // The lie // Dir.: Adrián Sánchez Ávila

Leannelis Cárdenas Díaz Always singing and smiling. There is no better way to face life! Musician and musicologist seven days a week. Cuban from head to toe, inside and out. Keywords: music, family, light, friends, wind, free, sunflower, smile, honey, Cuba. More posts

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