J Balvin and Bad Bunny, urbano’s two most stellar acts, both made their VMAs debut on Monday night with a pop-art performance of “Qué Pretendes,” their lead single off their intrepid joint album, Oasis, released in June.
Dressed in comically long-limbed inflatable suits, the pair channeled the pop absurdism of David Byrne with the wacky, technicolor aesthetic of old Looney Tunes cartoons. Between the singers bounced an array of inflatable animals and figures — among them a twerking stegosaurus — ambling between giant cacti balloons. “Arriba los Latinos!” shouted Balvin — “Rise up, Latinos!” — as he and Bunny floated above the stage via suspension cords. But when Balvin says to go higher, it’s often hard to tell whether he means the physical plane, or the astral one.
Bad Bunny and Balvin went head-to-head for the honor of Best Latin Video: Bunny for “Mia,” his 2018 collaboration with Drake; and Balvin for 2019’s “I Can’t Get Enough,” plus “Con Altura” with Rosalía. (Balvin and Rosalía ultimately won.)
“It’s a beautiful moment for the culture,” Balvin told MTV News. “To be singing and performing in Spanish… As long as you feel the vibe, we good!”
It’s been an nonstop summer for both reggaeton stars. Bad Bunny famously put his European tour on hold to join Puerto Ricans in protest against the now-ex-governor, Ricardo Rosselló. Meanwhile, Balvin’s North American Arcoiris tour kicks off August 30th in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Watch their goth-tinged latest video for “Cuidao Por Ahí” here.