Rehearsals for Premios Juventud were lively on Tuesday in preparation for Thursday’s show.
The end of the day was punctuated by J Balvin’s rehearsal of the television premiere of new single “Mi Gente” with Willy William, which they will perform with Italian millionaire, DJ and Instagram sensation Gianluca Vacchi. (The featured Vacchi, who is 49 and loves posting Instagram pics of himself in small, white swimming briefs, managed to keep his shirt on during rehearsal.)
“The video is very important. I wanted to show how cool our Latin culture is and show my city, Medellín,” Balvin told Billboard backstage. “We shot from Edificio Coltejer, which is an emblematic building in my city. The molas are part of the indigenous culture of my country. I wanted to show the culture in a song made for the entire planet. And the reaction has been incredible,” alluding to the more than 40 million views the video has garnered in six days. “I’ve visualized everything I’ve done so far. I visualized the video and I visualized the success it’s had so far. I can’t lie.”
Although Premios Juventud is ostensibly a youth award, never has the show been so fully vested in new acts or acts who are making awards show debuts. Among them was 17-year-old Ulices Chaidez, still in braces, who’ll perform current single “Te regalo.”
“We’ve been at it only a year,” he told Billboard backstage. “It’s a dream.” The success of the song is bittersweet, as the track was penned by Sergio Mercado, a friend of Chaidez’s who was gunned down in Mexico.
Also performing for the first time at the awards was trap Latino act Bad Bunny, who’ll share the stage with veteran Wisin along with Arcangel, Ozuna and De La Ghetto on “Escapate conmigo,” in a remake that blends trap and reggaeton.
“I’ve never done something this big live,” he admitted backstage. “Latin trap is a movement in development. But it’s advancing so quickly, it’s big. The first time I saw my name on the Billboard charts, I took a picture, I put it up everywhere. I’m a big fan of the charts, of who’s No. 1. So when my name popped up there, it was huge for me.”
On his end, YouTube sensation Ozuna, who is in the midst of a sold-out U.S. tour, will also perform his hit “Dile que tu me quieres.”
“I prepared for a long time,” says Ozuna of his seemingly overnight success. “I’d be lying if I told you I was looking for this. I got into the music and really didn’t realize what was happening until now.”
Others rehearsing included Gente de Zona, who will perform alongside Chyno, premiering his new single for television.
Chyno’s former musical partner Nacho will also perform. So will regional Mexican hitmakers Calibre 50; up-and-coming Mexican crooner Carlos Rivera; and Colombian newcomer Sebastian Yatra, who’s been collaborating with a slew of different talent.
Premios Juventud will air live Thursday from the Watsco Center at the University of Miami on Univision.