The catalyst for experimental artist Lido Pimienta’s spectacular third album ‘Miss Colombia’, was an incident at a beauty pageant. In 2015, host of the Miss Universe pageant, American comedian Steve Harvey, misread the winner’s name and mistakenly announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez, as the winner of the competition and the new Miss Universe. Her victory didn’t last long, however. Seconds later, Harvey realised his mistake and that Gutiérrez was in fact the runner=up, and Miss Philippines, aka Pia Wurtzbach, should have got the crown. The clip went viral, with some watching in disbelief at his mistake while others laughing and using it for more sinister means.
Colombia-born, Toronto-based Pimienta was shocked at the reaction she saw, and the racism towards both Harvey and Miss Philippines. “The comments on Facebook made by the Colombian diaspora I follow are horrible; they’re disgusting. For weeks, months, people were so sour about this,” she explained in an interview. This event spurred on the production of ‘Miss Colombia’, with Pimienta seeing the album as a “cynical love letter” to her home country, who were furious and open about their hatred of Harvey, yet seemingly apathetic in regards to socio-political issues, like the rights for Indigenous people who live in the area of North Colombia her family are from. The reaction made Pimienta question her heritage, explaining: “So I was like am I still Colombian or should I just keep calm and carry on because I’m Canadian now?”
The follow-up to her independently released second album – the Polaris Music Prize-winning ‘La Papessa’ in 2016 – combines poetic lyrics that recount love and loss club-ready bass and production with traditional Latin rhythms, incorporating cumbia and meshing them with ethereal, dreamy instrumentals. Pimienta has dubbed the results of her experimental sound “industrial reggaeton”.
‘Nada’, a collaboration with Colombian singer Li Saumet, is a strutting cut that fuses eerie flute riffs with ghostly vocals, with the two women discussing the pain of motherhood: “Todo lo que yo sentí y todo que yo viví/De todo lo que presentí Ya no me queda nada” (“Of Everything I felt and everything I lived/Of all I had a feeling for before, I’ve got nothing left”). ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’, with its jangling James Blake-tinted production and elements of porro, is a stomping slice of wild electronics, bolshy orchestration and Pimienta’s powerhouse vocals. Meanwhile, ‘No Pude’ blends squelching synths with mechanical beats.
‘Miss Colombia’ is an impressive, experimental collection, filled with complex, crunching production and romantic lyrics that recount love and loss. Mixing the old and traditional with modern elements, it’s a powerful statement of Lido Pimienta’s innovative creative vision and Colombia as a whole.
Release date: April 17
Record label: ANTI-