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Unfair Matchup

Mexican crooner Cristian Castro is the son of über-Mexican-crooner Luis Miguel as much as he is of his biological mother, the ever-surgically-young-starlet Verónica Castro. Look at his overstyled suits and his overly dramatic walks across the stage. Listen to the way he pronounces his s's. That's all imitation Luismi. But while Luis Miguel's schmaltz was saved by the class in the classic boleros he revived and -- let's accept it -- by his privileged throat and attention to detail, Cristian hasn't been so fortunate. However, for his upcoming Miami performance Castro's Luismi-knockoff status is the least of his problems. Saturday night, Castro follows a Chilean girl named Nicole, who has herself passed through several phases on her way to stardom (including an underrated album with Latin rock god Gustavo Cerati) and is now going through her hot-hot-hot chapter. Yep. Nicole opens for Cristian Castro. Which is like having the young Michael Jackson open for Shirley Temple.

If Nicole brings her band, chances are she's going to blow Cristian off the stage. If she plays an acoustic set, like she did in her two-song showcase at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York last August, things could be even worse for Castro. See, when Nicole is stripped of all the flash, all the unavoidable Madonna-splash that permeates much of her albums, she's even more lethal. As a guitarist, she has one of the best right hands in the business and her voice, more conventional than Shakira's but just as powerful, makes her one of the most well-rounded new figures in Latin pop. Nicole is wholesome entertainment for the whole family, but with a spoonful of neurons.


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