Political neophyte Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly won the Haitian presidential election in a landslide, defeating former first lady Mirlande Manigat, according to preliminary election results. While the infusion of fresh blood into the beleaguered Haitian political system was both needed and celebrated, we were taken by the fact that much of the media coverage focused on the bald-headed, 50-year-old Martelly's former career as a musician.
The Miami Herald cut straight to the chase, referring to Martelly as a "controversial carnival singer." The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog noted that he was "known for his ribald lyrics and outrageous performances." In a piece subtitled, "From Pop Star to President," MSNBC referred to Martelly as an "iconoclastic entertainer" and went on to specify that he was "a star of Haiti's Konpa carnival music blending African and Latin rhythms," stopping short of fully defining "Konpa."
Perhaps the most provocative description came from the normally staid New York Times, which described Martelly in the lede as "one of Haiti's most popular entertainers, a provocative Carnival singer previously best known for disrobing and swearing on stage." Fourteen paragraphs down the piece circled back to Martelly's antics, noting that "in the campaign, Mr. Martelly eschewed the skirts, underwear and other outlandish outfits of his musical career in favor of tailored suits and talk of reforming education and agriculture."