The Spanish entry for this year's Eurovision makes me want to forego the usual "first voted in, first posted about" rule for my Eurovision coverage. And that's because it fits so very clearly in with all my other blogging interests.
Because "Bailar El Chiki Chiki" by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre is, strangely enough, en reggaetón. And because it raises questions about post-colonialism and the internet age.
Rodolfo Chikilicuatre - "Bailar El Chiki Chiki"
Welcome to the brave new world of Eurovision. The Spanish TV company TVE decided this year to make all the sent-in entries (numbering in their hundreds) available on Myspace for the public to select from. Fairly revolutionary in itself, I guess. But then a team of Catalan comedians, led by Andreu Buenafuente whose TV Show is apparently very popular, perfectly interpreted and exploited the new selection method and placed a song all the way at the top.
They did it by creating a meme.
Rather than market their song through the usual channels they worked very hard to ingrain the song in internet culture. The character of Rodolfo (played by actor David Fernandez) has his own web page, Twitter page and Facebook page, all very popular. Even more importantly, they encouraged people to create remixes and funny videos of the song, putting them all into a group on Youtube. And it worked amazingly well - this marketing effort (as driven by a rival broadcaster to TVE, by the way) has managed to push itself into the general Spanish realms of internet phenoms. There are the required teletubby mashups, Counterstrike machinima, etc. It's been watched something like a million times altogether in various versions.
On the surface this does bear some similarity to the memes created around El Chombo twofer Chacarron and El Gato Volador, that are very similar musically, thematically and as phenomenons. This, too, is a (no doubt loving) send-up of reggaeton and its themes. The timbres and the way of singing might as well have been lifted straight from El Chombo.
But obviously Rodney Clark as El Chombo is Panamanian whereas David Fernandez is Catalan/Spanish, making their position in the post-colonial world very different. I'm wondering how much of a difference this makes to the reception of the music - there's a real danger "El Chiki Chiki" will be perceived as racist against Latin Americans, minstrelsy style. I've yet to see any reggaeton fan's responses to the song, but that would certainly help clarify things.
One thing that speaks in its favour is that it seems to have been reggaetonned-up considerably during the selection process. The original, as appearing on Rodolfo's Myspace, is that worst-thing-of-all, a mild western copy. But somewhere along the way someone who knows reggaeton has added on a proper production with a real, prominent dembow.
I've got mixed feelings about it myself. I like the idea of the extension of the competition into the internet sphere and don't mind the resultant entry as a piece of music, even liking it a bit. But I am concerned about the implications of its position in the post-colonial power structure. How much easier it would have been if Fernandez, as suggested on another site, had been Mexican...
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