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Latin Grammys 2021: Rubén Blades, Camilo and More Take Top Honors


ImageBad Bunny closed the Latin Grammys with “Maldita Pobreza,” one of his rock en español-inspired hits from “El Último Tour del Mundo.”
Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nobody swept this year’s Latin Grammys. Top categories — album and record of the year — recognized worthy elders: Rubén Blades and Caetano Veloso (with his son Tom).

“Patria y Vida,” the Cuban protest anthem, was song of the year and urban song of the year. Camilo, busy as both songwriter and singer, collected four awards for three different songs plus best pop vocal album for “Mis Manos,” and helped win producer of the year for Edgar Barrera.

C. Tangana shared songwriting awards for best alternative song and best pop/rock song, and his two dozen engineers shared the best engineered album award for his “El Madrileño.” And Juan Luis Guerra won best traditional pop vocal album and a handful of minor awards, adding to his extensive shelf.

Juliana Velásquez, a promisingly poetic Colombian songwriter, was named best new artist, and Mon Laferte had the best singer-songwriter album, “Seis,” in a category almost always dominated by men. (She also flaunted both her volatile voice and, with cutouts in her outfits, her pregnant belly.)

But as always at the Latin Grammys, it was the performances — fiery (literally with best urban album winner Bad Bunny), impassioned and virtuous — and the razzle-dazzle that made the show worthwhile.

Vanessa Friedman

And here we go — Bad Bunny brings the night to a close in a rain of fire. As one does.

Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Isabelia Herrera

Interesting song choice for Bad Bunny; instead of going with a super hit like “Booker T,” he picked “Maldita Pobreza,” one of his rock en español-inspired hits from “El Último Tour del Mundo.” Not sure it really exhibits all his talent, though.

Isabelia Herrera

I’m a cynic, but Rubén Blades’s recognition at the Latin Grammys is long overdue.

Rubén Blades y Roberto Delgado & Orquesta

Win album of the year for “Salswing!”

Isabelia Herrera

In a rare move for the academy, “Patria y Vida,” a song with explicit political content, gets recognized.

Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Jon Pareles

“Patria y Vida” is song of the year. The academy chose the statement over the catchy ditties.

Yotuel, Gente De Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky

Win song of the year for “Patria y Vida.”

Vanessa Friedman

Everything is relative, but it seems like some of the truly over-the-top pyrotechnics have been toned down a bit this year. Though the night is not over yet.

Isabelia Herrera

Don’t shoot me, but this rendition of “Mariposa Traicionera” feels more languid than I’d expect from these powerhouses.

Jon Pareles

Upset! Caetano Veloso and Tom Veloso grabbed record of the year, for the modest ballad “Talvez,” over Camilo, C. Tangana and all the rest. The head scratching at the academy must be commencing now.

Credit…Will Dias/Futura Press, via Associated Press

The singer-songwriter Marília Mendonça, an icon of the Brazilian country music sertanejo, was killed on Nov. 5 in a small plane crash on her way to a concert in southeastern Brazil. She was 26.

On Thursday, the Latin Grammys paid tribute to the musician, who was no stranger to the awards.

In 2019, Mendonça’s “Todos os Cantos” won the Latin Grammy for best sertaneja music album. Two years earlier, her second LP, “Realidad,” received a nomination for the same category.

Mendonça, known as “the queen of suffering” to her legions of fans for her sentimental songs that tell the stories of flawed characters, was Brazil’s most-listened-to artist on Spotify in 2020 and 2019. She was a star of both sertanejo and social media, with more than 41 million followers on Instagram, 22.8 million on YouTube and 8 million on Twitter.

“The whole country receives in shock the news of the death of the young country singer Marília Mendonça, one of the greatest artists of her generation,” Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said on Twitter earlier this month. “Who, with her unique voice, charisma and music won the affection and admiration of all of us.”

Caetano Veloso and Tom Veloso

Win record of the year for “Talvez.”

Jon Pareles

I expected “Patria y Vida” to be passionate onstage. I didn’t expect the entire audience to amplify it. Wow.

Credit…Joe Raedle/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY — As thousands marched across Cuba last July in an astonishing protest against the Communist regime, many shouted and sang a common refrain: “Patria y vida!” or “Homeland and life!”

The phrase comes from a rap song of the same name, which has become an anthem for a burgeoning movement of young people taking to the internet and to the streets, demanding an end to political oppression and economic misery.

The song, written by Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo, Eliecer “el Funky” Márquez Duany and the reggaeton pair Gente de Zona, is nominated for two Latin Grammys, including song of the year, and will be performed on the show Thursday night.

“These are the first Grammy Awards for the people of Cuba, the first Grammys for freedom,” Romero said in a phone interview from Miami. “These are the first Grammys where it’s not Yotuel nor Gente Zona that are nominated, it’s patria y vida, it’s Cuba.”

The song is a rare instance of Cuban artists directly taking on the regime: The title is a twist on one of the most iconic slogans of the Cuban revolution, patria o muerte, (homeland or death), a phrase that Fidel Castro often used to end his speeches.

“It was the antithesis of homeland or death — homeland and life,” Romero said. “I knew that phrase was going to bring a lot of controversy.”

And generate controversy it did.

After it was released in February, the song was heavily criticized by government figures like President Miguel Díaz-Canel and former culture minister Abel Prieto, who called the track a “musical pamphlet.” and wrote, “There’s nothing more sad than a chorus of annexationists attacking their homeland” on Twitter.

But the official criticism did little to stem the song’s popularity. After decades of isolation, internet use became widespread in Cuba in 2018 — many young Cubans are now highly active on social media, where the anthem spread like wildfire. The accompanying video has been viewed more than 9 million times on YouTube.

The song’s release came just a few months after hundreds of artists, intellectuals and others demonstrated outside the Ministry of Culture in Havana to protest a slew of recent arrests, including that of the rapper Denis Solís.

“That protest transformed the narrative of the opposition in Cuba,” said Rafael Escalona, the director of the Cuban music magazine AM:PM. “There was fertile ground for someone to reap the fruits and create a protest anthem.”

On July 11, “Patria y Vida” was transformed into a rallying cry, when Cuba witnessed its largest protests in decades, with Cubans protesting over power outages, food shortages and a lack of medicines.

“This is my way of telling you, my people are crying out and I feel their voice,” the song says. “No more lies, my people ask for freedom. No more doctrines, let’s not sing of homeland or death but homeland and life.”

Hundreds of people were jailed after the July demonstrations, and at least 40 more were detained on Monday as the regime moved to stifle another planned march.

The risks extended to the songwriters too.

While most of the artists who collaborated on the song were well known internationally before the track’s release and were also living outside of Cuba, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky still lived on the island: Both were arrested earlier this year, and Osorbo remains in jail. Romero, who lives in Miami, said that he cannot return to the island for fear of arrest.

But despite the crackdown, Romero said he is confident that the emerging movement fomented by Cuba’s youth and given a soundtrack by “Patria y Vida” is only just getting started.

“This is no longer a movement, it’s generation. It’s the generation patria y vida,” he said. “The generation patria y vida has come to bury the generation patria o muerte.”

Carlos Melián Moreno contributed reporting from Santiago, Cuba.

Jon Pareles

Danna Paola just exploded her own song. She coos and teases through the studio version of “Calla Tú,” but this was the definitely the arena version.

Credit…Kevin Winter/Getty Images For The Latin Recording Academy
Vanessa Friedman

Isabelia, you asked for more purple tones, and Danna Paola and co. are serving that up. In all sorts of ways.

Isabelia Herrera

Rita Indiana missing out on a Latin Grammy feels like a real snub. Even though she’s far from a “new” artist, her album “Mandinga Times” blended so many different Afro-Caribbean genres with metal, and felt really prescient.

Juliana Velásquez

Wins best new artist.

Isabelia Herrera

If you don’t have a minimum of 14 members in your banda group, I don’t want it!

Credit…Nina Prommer/EPA, via Shutterstock
Jon Pareles

Military bands excepted, there may be no better guarantee of a good time then the presence of a sousaphone — and this banda-norteño mashup has two of them.

Vanessa Friedman

Carlos Rivera is the host with the most — clothing changes. I think he’s on outfit four now (or is it five?) and there’s still an hour left to go. Meanwhile, Ana Brenda Contreras and Roselyn Sánchez are only on No. 2 each. That probably says something, but I’m not sure what.

Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Credit…Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

The catchall term “Latin music,” grouping together everyone whose first language is Spanish or Portuguese, covers two continents (and sometimes a bit of Europe), making recordings that are released both within and across national borders. At the Latin Grammys, the best new artist category is one way for United States listeners to get early notice of emerging talent abroad — even though, this year, two nominees, the Dominican songwriter and author Rita Indiana and the Venezuelan songwriter Lasso, actually released their debut albums back in 2010. Here’s a quick guide to this year’s competition:

The Brazilian pop-rock songwriter Giulia Be (Giulia Bourguignon Marinho) is set to perform on the Latin Grammy telecast. Her first Brazilian hit in 2019 was “Too Bad,” sung in English, but she switched to Portuguese for “Menina Solta” (“Girl on the Loose”), which has become one of Brazil’s most streamed songs since 2019. She has also collaborated with the American songwriter Pink Sweats.

The Argentine vocalist María Becerra makes the kind of shimmering pop-reggaeton and relaxed R&B that commands the charts. Though she released her first EP in 2019, her 2021 debut album, “Animal,” put her on the map; she currently has nine features or solo songs on the Billboard Argentina Hot 100.

The Argentine producer Bizarrap is a fixture in his country’s trap scene: His freestyle and music sessions, which have become YouTube favorites, showcase upcoming rappers’ lyrical skills over beats he produces himself. In 2021, he expanded his collaborators to include artists outside the borders of his home country and across Spanish-language hip-hop. Snow Tha Product’s session, a bilingual flood of barbs and punch lines from the Mexican American rapper, is also nominated for best rap/hip-hop song.

Panama is central to the history of reggaeton, but it’s only recently that artists from the isthmus are getting back into the spotlight. Boza is one of the musicians leading the pack. His fluid reggaeton and glossy dancehall has made him a TikTok sensation; last year’s viral “Hecha Pa’ Mi,” which also appeared on his debut album “Más Negro Que Rojo,” has over 100 million YouTube views.

Zoe Gotusso, a songwriter from Argentina, has a breathy, confiding voice; on her hit single “Ganas” and on her solo debut album from 2020, “Mi Primer Día Triste” (“My First Sad Day”), she floats it over largely acoustic folk-pop arrangements that often hint at South American rhythms.

Humbe — the Mexican songwriter Humberto Rodríguez Terrazas — made his 2017 debut album, “Sonámbulo” (“Sleepwalker”) when he was 16. He wrote, produced and performed his second album, “Entropia” (“Entropy”), almost entirely on his own, backing his fervent high tenor with largely electronic arrangements and singing, in his hit “El Poeta” (“The Poet”), about a compulsion to make music. After garnering millions of plays on TikTok, Humbe has just released his second album of 2021, “Aurora,” a pandemic collaboration with Emiliano Rodríguez, his brother.

Rita Indiana is a certified multihyphenate: one of the foremost figures of contemporary Caribbean literature, and also a force in Dominican music. Her debut album with the band Los Misterios dropped in 2010, establishing her as a cult figure in the Dominican underground. In 2020, she released “Mandinga Times,” her return to music after a decade focusing on her literary career; the album, co-produced by Calle 13’s Eduardo Cabra, is an irreverent, apocalyptic reinvention of gagá, reggaeton and other Afro-Caribbean sounds, sliced up with metal textures and piercing one-liners, like on “Como un Dragón”: “While you were writing a chorus, I wrote five novels.”

Andrés Vicente Lazo Uslar, the Venezuelan songwriter who records as Lasso, has been making albums of earnest, upbeat pop-rock since 2010. On his latest, “Las Cuatro Estaciones” (“The Four Seasons”), he upholds the classic-rock ideal of a concept album, following the cycle of a yearlong romance.

Born in New York to Chilean parents, the pop star Paloma Mami was 18 when she wrote her first song, “Not Steady” — a bilingual pop-dancehall hit that led her to become the first Chilean artist to sign to Sony Music Latin. Her debut album, “Sueños de Dalí,” elaborates on the sounds she’s been exploring since she was a teenager, blending bleeding-heart R&B with celestial reggaeton lust.

The Mexican songwriter Marco Mares, born Marco Antonio Mares Díaz, breezes through styles from Mexico and beyond — ranchera, cumbia, bachata, reggae, even rapping — in genial songs about the ups and downs of love.

Juliana Velásquez was a child actor on Colombian TV before emerging as a songwriter. She released her debut album, “Juliana,” in April, and it sets her whispery voice and haunted, vulnerable lyrics amid delicate acoustic arrangements one moment, startling electronic phantasmagoria the next.

Isabelia Herrera

It also makes me wonder how much merengue típico, or perico ripiao, has been played on the Latin Grammys stage before. For such a typical folk genre to have this platform at the Latin Grammys is rare.

Best Reggaeton Performance

Karol G

Wins best reggaeton performace for “Bichota.”

Isabelia Herrera

What a gift to have Juan Luis Guerra playing a medley of old favorites from the ’90s! “Vale La Pena” and “El Farolito” are prime family party songs, and my heart is officially warmed.

Jon Pareles

The Rubén Blades tribute before Christina Aguilera seemed to fill the room with respect that was not feigned — and was of course well-deserved. Adding the samba interlude to a salsa classic, “Paula C.” — as he does on the “Salswing!” album — was fun.

Isabelia Herrera

Credit…Amy Harris/Invision, via Associated Press

A few hours after the Latin Grammy nominations were announced in September, in a series of now-deleted tweets, the Colombian pop star J Balvin announced that reggaeton artists should boycott the awards. “The Grammys don’t value us, but they need us,” he wrote in Spanish. “Those who have power in the genre, NONE SHOULD GO! Which is to say everyone because we are a movement.”

It’s a critique that dates back years, but one that has reignited as reggaeton continues to surge as a cultural force across the globe. Critics argue that the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences profits off reggaeton performances during the televised ceremony, but that the genre’s artists aren’t always nominated. (A similar conversation has flared at the English-language Grammys, as the show has struggled to wrestle with hip-hop’s cultural influence.) In 2005, The Times’s Kelefa Sanneh observed that reggaeton was curiously missing from the list of nominees for best album, despite being the year’s biggest commercial success story in Spanish-language music.

Fast forward to 2019. Popular reggaeton artists, like Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam and Balvin, participated in a social media campaign against the Latin Grammys. When no reggaeton artists received nominations for any of the 10 major categories, several performers posted an image of a crossed-out gramophone on social media with the statement, “Sin reggaeton, no hay Latin Grammy,” or, “Without reggaeton, there is no Latin Grammy.”

In April 2020, in what appeared to be a response to the backlash, the academy announced that best reggaeton performance would be added as a separate category. (Previously, the genre was nominated under the blanket categories of “urban music.”) The disagreement around the genre’s place in the awards flared once again when Balvin tweeted out his call for a boycott this year.

But this time, it landed differently. The most fervent criticism came from the Puerto Rican rapper Residente, who has more than two dozen Latin Grammys, and posted an Instagram video that eventually mushroomed into a bitter online battle. In the clip, Residente explained that several reggaeton and rap artists, including Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro and Myke Towers, were recognized across the awards this year. He said that boycotting the show would be especially disrespectful to the salsa legend Rubén Blades, who is receiving the person of the year honor.

But the real barbs arrived when Residente began to tear into Balvin’s music. “It’s as if a hot dog cart got offended because it can’t win a Michelin star,” he said in Spanish. Balvin simply responded by commenting, “I respect your opinion” on the post. Eventually, Residente deleted the video.

But the saga was far from over. Balvin shared an Instagram post promoting a new line of fake merch, featuring cartoons of hot dogs and food carts. Residente, whose music is known for being fearlessly political, uploaded a second Instagram video, this time lambasting Balvin’s music, career and character, and claiming that he had helped Balvin craft a message for social media during protests against corruption and income inequality in Colombia last year.

The spat seemed to end with Residente reposting his original video and silence from J Balvin. But the larger conversation surrounding their personal disagreement about reggaeton’s place at the Latin Grammys doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

Jon Pareles

The Latin Grammys is always the night of the big voices — which is great because so many of them just nail it. Mon Laferte and now Christina Aguilera.

Isabelia Herrera

Christina reminding us that no one can compete with her vocal range, and to try to best her would be futile.

Jon Pareles

Credit…David Richard/Associated Press

Christina Aguilera didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. She was born in New York City; her Ecuadorean father divorced her mother, of mixed European ancestry, when she was 6. But in 2000 Aguilera sang in Spanish on an album, “Mi Reflejo,” that translated songs from her debut album and added a few new ones, becoming a major hit across Latin America; she also performed that year on the first Latin Grammy Awards show and won best female pop vocal album in 2001. Last month, she released a new Spanish-language single, “Pa Mis Muchachas” (“For My Girls”), featuring Nathy Peluso and Nicki Nicole from Argentina and Becky G, who was born in California to Mexican American parents; they’re scheduled to join her to perform it. It’s a frisky guaracha in praise of strong, fearless, insubordinate women, and while it’s not eligible for an award until next year, why wait?

Jon Pareles

Credit…Chase Hall for The New York Times

Rubén Blades, 73, was long overdue as a choice for the Latin Grammys’ person of the year. He happens to be the first Panamanian on a list that includes Shakira, Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan, Juanes, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Plácido Domingo. From the 1970s on, Blades has brought literary innovation and musical fusions to salsa, and he has infused songs with sociopolitical ambition. He also earned a masters in international law at Harvard Law School and has had an extensive career as a movie and television actor. He has armloads of Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards. And he’s still drawing connections, lately between swing-era jazz and its not-always-acknowledged Afro-Caribbean sources. Blades is performing tonight with Roberto Delgado & Orquesta, the big band from Panama that backed him on his 2021 album “Salswing!,” still making history dance.

Isabelia Herrera

This rock en español rendition of “No Tengo Dinero” feels so fresh yet true to the spirit of the original. And it’s always a treat to see Juanes bring out his metal roots; people forget how much his time in Ekhymosis shaped him.

Jon Pareles

Juanes and the Café Tacvba members are going all Beatlemania. It’s not just the suits and the black-and-white; that set with the arrows is based on the Ed Sullivan show that had 1960s teens screaming.

Isabelia Herrera

Vanessa, and Bad Bunny’s lavender latex gloves are *chef’s kiss*. More purple tones please.

Isabelia Herrera

Credit…Frank Hoensch/Redferns

It has been more than five years since the death of Juan Gabriel, an artist known as Juanga who was effectively the musical heart of Mexico. His legacy is ineffable; his music has been a vehicle that generations have used to make sense of love, mourning, heartbreak and anguish, providing the soundtrack to quinceañeras, weddings, queer nightclubs.

Tonight, the Colombian pop star Juanes is joining forces with Rubén Albarrán and Meme del Real of the Mexican rock band Café Tacvba to perform one of Juanga’s most beloved hits, “No Tengo Dinero.” It was Gabriel’s first single, a song that set the tone for an artist who would become a folk hero over the next five decades.

The Colombian star Juanes, whose pop-rock balladry kicked off his career in the early ’00s, was once the lead singer of a thrash metal band, so he will likely blend well with members of a universally beloved Mexican rock group. Café Tacvba’s career-defining album “Re” redrew the boundaries of rock en español when it landed in 1994, colliding metal and ska with Mexican folk styles like huapango, norteño and banda. The Times’s Jon Pareles called it “the equivalent of the Beatles’ White Album for the Rock en Español movement.”

Vanessa Friedman

Bad Bunny wins for best urban music album, and he is wearing … a full fuchsia suit. Just sayin’.

Credit…Chris Pizzello/Invision, via Associated Press

Bad Bunny

Wins best urban music album for “El Último Tour Del Mundo.”

Jon Pareles

Zoe Gotusso, the new artist nominee just shown, performed live at the Latin Grammy “premiere” where most of the awards were given: a delicate Spanish-language bossa nova. I hope that gets posted by the academy.

Jon Pareles

When I interviewed Sebastián Aracena, Mon Laferte’s guitarist and one of her producers, he said he had to put microphones at various distances from her in the studio because just one couldn’t handle her dynamic range. All the extremes were in those two songs — and you wouldn’t want to be the men on the receiving end of those lyrics, either.

Isabelia Herrera

Whoever decided to pair Gloria Trevi and Mon Laferte together made an impeccable choice. We live for these theatrics!

Vanessa Friedman

Jon, you were right: Mon Laferte has gone in a very different fashion direction for her performance — much more elaborate and decorative in gold and black than her red carpet look — though her baby belly is still front and center.

Isabelia Herrera

The Latin music industry has a race problem. For decades, the whitest and lightest-skinned artists have dominated the business, echoing the deep-rooted colorism that permeates TV, film and other entertainment industries. (See: the movie adaptation of “In the Heights” this past summer.) The Latin Grammys are not exempt; there are only seven Black Latino artists scheduled to take the stage at the televised awards ceremony Thursday night out of a total 46 announced acts.

Over the last couple of years, discussions about the lack of Black Latino representation in Spanish-language pop music have concentrated around reggaeton, an Afro-diasporic style with roots in Puerto Rico, New York and Panama. Its earliest performers were largely Black Latinos, but as the genre has been brought under the umbrella of pop, its architects have largely been left behind.

In 2019, after a group of artists announced a boycott of the Latin Grammys because reggaeton was largely left out of the nominations, critics online pointed out that the protest should also recognize that reggaeton wouldn’t exist without the Black Latinos who pioneered it.

As one of the largest platforms for Spanish-language music in the United States, the Latin Grammys showcase dozens of genres rooted in Black Latin American traditions, but often the artists chosen to perform are white or lighter skinned, raising questions about whether the academy is doing enough to reflect the reality of the music it promotes. Not unlike the organization behind the English-language Grammys, the Latin academy is an institution that’s often criticized for being slow to respond to conversations about race, gender and identity.

Vanessa Friedman

Camilo appears to have put his shoes back on for his best pop vocal album win (he was barefoot for his performance), which I think is another win for everyone watching.

Credit…Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Isabelia Herrera

It’s a real treat to have Anthony Santos perform tonight, even just as a guest of Ozuna’s. El Mayimbe is a forefather of bachata, a Black Dominican genre born in the countryside, once maligned and discriminated against by the elite as a lower-class party music. New bachata artists like Romeo Santos have performed on the Latin Grammys stage plenty of times before, but to have an originator present feels like someone is finally getting his flowers.

Credit…Kevin Winter/Getty Images For The Latin Recording Academy


Wins best pop vocal album for “Mis Manos.”

Jon Pareles

I would say flamenco plus Auto-Tune is less than the sum of its parts. I was hoping for more from C. Tangana’s giant guest list than just singing and clapping along.

Jon Pareles

Credit…Rich Fury/Getty Images for Global Citizen

Ozuna, the prolific Puerto Rican singer and songwriter who is up for two awards, presents himself as a lover who can also be a fighter. “Caramelo,” nominated as best reggaeton performance, savors an attractive woman’s sweetness and heat; it’s from his 2020 album “ENOC,” which is nominated as best urban album. “ENOC” starts with “Enemigos Ocultos” (“Hidden Enemies”), a posse track full of gun-toting threats, but for most of the album, Ozuna offers sweaty pleasures: dancing, come-ons, secret trysts, bedroom reunions. And while he has thrived singing reggaeton and Latin trap songs, since “ENOC” Ozuna has been pushing his music into different genres. Earlier this month, he released a Dominican-style bachata, “Señor Juez” (“Mr. Judge”), a duet with a major bachata innovator, Anthony Santos. He’s looking ahead.

Jon Pareles

Credit…Xavi Torrent/Redferns, via Getty Images

C. Tangana — born Antón Álvarez Alfaro — broke the genre confines of urbano music on his 2021 album “El Madrileño.” Reaching back to music from past generations and joined by a transcontinental assortment of collaborators, the album insisted that music from Spain shouldn’t be isolated or elitist. His Latin Grammys segment surrounds him again. To reclaim Spanish tradition, he has leading flamenco guitarists and singers: Antonio Carmona, Diego del Morao, Israel Fernández, La Húngara. And from the Americas he has the Uruguayan songwriter Jorge Drexler, the Mexican songwriter Natalia Lafourcade and the Mexican American songwriter Omar Apollo, whose duet with Tangana, the lovelorn ballad “Te Olvidaste” (“You Forgot”), is nominated for record of the year. His segment promises to cover a lot of stylistic ground.

Isabelia Herrera

Credit…Johnny Louis/Getty Images

For those who have been following his rise, the rapper Myke Towers’s ascendence in the Latin music industry might seem unlikely. Towers grew out of a new generation of Puerto Rican trap that has been percolating on the island since the mid-2010s. But as the years passed, he demonstrated his ambitions beyond the confines of his local scene, becoming a go-to creative partner for plenty of anodyne pop stars looking for some edge, like Becky G and Sebastián Yatra. While his features have foregrounded his love of melody and nostalgic hooks, he hasn’t lost sight of his hip-hop roots: Towers has a facility with both the honeyed sways of pop-reggaeton and a muscular capacity to rap.

He is nominated for three awards this year: best urban song and best reggaeton song for “La Curiosidad,” and best urban music album for “Lyke Mike.”

Jon Pareles

Credit…Xavi Torrent/Redferns, via Getty Images

The long-mustachio’d Colombian singer and songwriter Camilo, whose last name is Echeverry, has 10 nominations at the Latin Grammys — so many that in two top categories, record and song of the year, he is nominated twice. That’s because he has collaborated widely, helping write a song for his father-in-law, Ricardo Montaner, and slipping into the regional Mexican category with “Tuyo y Mio” (“Yours and Mine”), a song he wrote and recorded with a leading norteño band, Los Dos Carnales.

It’s also because Camilo has a gift for succinct pop hooks and he’s thoroughly, charmingly wholesome, a counterweight to the braggadocio and bawdiness of some reggaeton and urbano. Camilo sings about grateful true love and modest expectations; “Vida de Rico” (“Rich Man’s Life”), nominated for record and song, offers kisses and beer rather than diamonds and champagne. Will his understatement be rewarded?

Credit…Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Since 2009, Selena Gomez has put out three albums with the band the Scene and three solo studio LPs. In March, she did something she hadn’t done before: released her first Spanish-language EP, “Revelación.”

In September, she was nominated for her first Grammy ever — the Latin Grammy for best short form music video for “De Una Vez” (“Once and for All”) which was released in January as her debut Spanish single. (She lost earlier tonight, to “Un Amor Eterno” by Marc Anthony.)

“I am incredibly proud of my Latin background,” Gomez said in a statement at the time. “It felt empowering to sing in Spanish again.”

The video, directed by Los Peréz and produced by Kim Dellara and Clark Jackson, has racked up over 84 million views on YouTube. It opens inside of Gomez’s heart as her literal heartbreak starts to heal, crystalline fragments stretching toward each other.

“It doesn’t hurt me like before,” Gomez sings in Spanish. “The injury from your love has healed.”

The seven-track “Revelación” also features Rauw Alejandro and Myke Towers (both also nominated for Latin Grammys this year). The EP peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart.

Jon Pareles


It has already been a winning afternoon (in Las Vegas) for Camilo, from Colombia, and C. Tangana, from Spain. Each has so far dominated the multiple categories where they were nominated; they have yet to go head-to-head.

For Camilo, the wins include best pop song for “Vida de Rico,” which he called “an exploration of who I am at my roots” in his speech, and best urban fusion/performance for “Tattoo (Remix)” with Rauw Alejandro. His producer, Edgar Barrera, was named producer of the year.

Camilo also shared a songwriting award for best tropical song, “Dios Así Lo Quiso,” recorded by Juan Luis Guerra with Camilo’s father-in-law, Ricardo Montaner, who was also one of its songwriters — and who, after a four-decade career, finally got his first Latin Grammy with that song.

C. Tangana benefited from the genre-hopping lineup of his album “El Madrileño,” which qualified him to win best alternative song for “Nominao” and best pop/rock song for “Hong Kong.” More than two dozen engineers shared the best engineered album award for “El Madrileño.” In prime time, Camilo and C. Tangana will be competing for top awards.

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