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Depending on their tastes, Israeli music fans will have the opportunity to live "La Vida Loca" or get busy "In da Club" with their favorite pop stars this summer. Joined by English pop icon Sting, Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin and thug rapper 50 Cent have announced plans to perform concerts in Israel in the coming months, further bolstering Israel's return as a tour stop for major international musicians. Though their musical styles and onstage personas c o u l d hardly be more different, the three men are certain to delight Israeli music fans deprived of major concerts for much of the past six years.
Martin's Israeli performance, set for June 3 at the Rishon Lezion Amphitheater, comes as part of the singer's second trip to the Middle East, where he inadvertentl caused an uproar last July at a meeting of the Arab Children's Congress in Jordan. After pledging his support in the fight against anti-Arab stereotypes, Martin garnered worldwide attention by donning a keffiyeh, or traditional Arab headdress, decorated with the words "Jerusalem is ours" in Arabic. The episode caused discomfort in Israel and anger at the country's foreign ministry, with Martin ultimately invited to meet Israel's consulgeneral in New York to discuss the incident. At the meeting, the "Cup of Life" singer told the con su - general he'd been unaware of the keffiyeh's message and hadn't intended to alarm Israeli fans, for whom he then promised a concert in the first half of 2006.
A pop star in the Spanishspeaking world since his youth, the Puerto Rican Martin vastly expanded Latin music's fan base in 1999, when his first English-language album rocketed to the top of international pop charts and turned the title of its first single, "Livin' la Vida Loca," into a catch-phrase. A follow-up English-language album the next year proved a relative failure, and Martin waited five years before releasing a third English-language effort, Life, late in 2005.
Sting, who will perform January 8 at the Ramat Gan Stadium, is less of a newcomer to the Middle East, having visited the region a number of times and performed a concert in Israel in 1995.
The breakout member of '70s and '80s English pop band The Police, the singer born George Sumner recorded hits including "Every Breath You Take" and "Message in a Bottle" before going solo in the mid-'80s. Following a cooling off period in the '90s, the "Roxanne" performer found a new, younger audience with "Desert Rose," a 1999 pop tune which leaned heavily on background vocals by Algerian-born singer Cheb Mami. Sacred Love, Sting's most recent studio album, was released in 2003.
A very different demographic is likely to turn out for 50 Cent's concert in Israel, scheduled to take place June 15. Born Curtis Jackson 26 years ago in New York City, the rapper burst onto the music scene in early 2002 with 'Get Rich or Die Tryin', the multi-platinum smash featuring his 'P.I.M.P' and juggernaut single 'In da Club.'
The rapper's sophomore release, 'The Massacre', reinforced his reputation for lyrics revolving around drugs, sex, and violence, with 'Candy Shop,' the album's lascivious lead single, becoming one of the ubiquitous hits of 2005. Making what is believed to be his first visit to the MIddle East, 50 Cent has not yet announced the venue for his Israeli debut.