Artists of the Year

Makers who mattered in 1995

Andrew K. Kim is a Minneapolis writer.

MACARENA

by Chuck Eddy

Any Latina who could inspire the biggest Latin dance craze since the lambada, not to mention get every libertine in the Spanish-speaking world to serenade her, must be an artist, a goddess on a mountaintop burning like a silver flame. You need to go back to Roxanne Roxanne in 1985, maybe even G-L-O-R-I-A or the woman Hey Joe shot down in 1966, to find anybody so popular. (I'm surprised nobody wrote a "Hey Joe"/"Macarena" hybrid called "Selena.")

The U.S. Top 40 smash and definitive "Macarena" was performed by Spain's flamenco duo Los Del Rio, then remixed with gringo words by Miami disc jockeys the Bayside Boys--giddy-giggly teasy-cheesy flirt-disco girl-squeaking contrasted with a deep hairy-chested salsero chorus old enough to be the girl's dads. "They all want me/They can't have me/So they all come and dance beside me." I put it on a survival tape I made for my amazingly dimpled part-Mexican tomboy buddy Jennifer (who I think Courtney Love wrote "Jennifer's Body" about) after she booted her no-good boyfriend out, just like the real Macarena.

Back on 7-inch/45 vinyl with Scatman John's over-the-top hokum-jazz stutter-rap novelty "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)," it was the liveliest single I heard in 1995. ("Scatman" was an even funner stutter than Elastica's "Stutter," which was an even funner penis-disability song than Gillette's "Short Dick Man." Was this a great year or what?) In 1989, Ed Morales worried in the Village Voice that the lambada might "kill any understanding of world music by making it into a Big Mac"--but personally, I'd rather eat a Big Mac (arena) than read National Geographic (what "real" world music usually reminds me of).

Los Del Mar's Havana-via-Montreal "Macarena" version wasn't as hot a tamale as their "Oye Como Va" on Macarena, one of my favorite 1995 albums, but it topped Canada's charts anyhow. My friend Phil, who substitute-teaches grade school in Toronto, was supposed to dance to it at some student function, but he was too shy and just flapped his arms around a bit instead. Other renditions I've heard--by norteño/tejano stud Mazz, Argentina-or-Ibiza nobodies Majo & Co., Mexico tequila-poppers Mestizzo--are, um, hard to tell apart. When I visited Mexico City in November, Monica Frias invited me out dancing with some pals for her 27th birthday, but when I asked if we're gonna do the Macarena, she said "No! I hate that!" Constanza Garcia of Sony Discos told me that in October she'd just learned the simple dance steps, but in November she went to Italy, and they do it differently there. Eventually I hope to work up the nerve to ask her to teach it to me. I also wouldn't mind meeting Macarena herself someday.

Chuck Eddy is a Philadelphia writer.

KARI MARGOLIS AND TONY BROWN

by Carolyn Petrie

In big-business theater, lip-synching passes for live performance these days. But camped out in the dark recesses of Minneapolis's sex-and-warehouse district is a group of artists who believe that every muscle of the human body and every cell of the brain can be channeled into their entertainment. In a year when pop culture spawned some really stupid vampires, Margolis Brown Company one-upped Hollywood by creating two of the coolest, silliest, sexiest night creatures that ever grew fangs. Vidpires!, a brilliant merger of dance, music, techno-magic, and commentary on the ironies of love in the modern age, was nothing short of spellbinding.

Margolis and Brown have their bases covered: she, the driven choreographer and teacher of a technique passed down from mentor Etienne Decroux; he, the technician and image creator who brings their ideas to the stage. The two have shared a common passion for the all-inclusive genre they call "movement theater" for more than 20 years now, from the streets of Paris to New York and finally the Twin Cities, where they've made a cozy home for themselves and 30 eager, talented students.

Snippets from their next project, an examination of immigrant culture called Vanishing Point, have been seen this year at the Fringe Festival and Minnesota Dances, as well as at an open house that was held last month at their studio. Scheduled to run early next year at the Southern Theater, it promises to be as intriguing as every move they've made on that stage so far.

Carolyn Petrie is a Minneapolis writer.

BOY GEORGE

by Britt Robson

Just one year ago, Boy George was generally regarded as a chickenshit androgynist, cocaine casualty, or oldies curio. But in 1995 he stormed out of the closet into a brilliantly self-directed three-ring media circus. After dishing up the names of everybody he'd ever fucked or snorted with in his trashy, trenchant autobiography, Take It Like A Man, George unleashed Cheapness and Beauty, which, a quarter-century after Stonewall, is the first CD that fully integrates the multifaceted emotions of gay life with compelling commercial music. A piquant marmalade of roiling glam-thrash guitars and poignant pop hooks, it contains a half-dozen tunes that should be hits and at least a couple that will make you cry. It's the kind of brash epiphany that can only occur when a disgraced artist peels away the bullshit and relies on gut instinct because there is nothing left to lose. It's the best record of 1995.

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