Vicente García entre los más nominados al Latin Grammy 2017

The nominations for the 2017 Latin Grammy Awards recognized a wide swath of musical genres and sensibilities, honoring both projects based on traditional Latin-American styles and cutting-edge recordings. In the field of nominees announced Sept. 26, collaborations and stylistic fusions were the major trends. And, while the show has a history of honoring art over commerce, there was no chance the Latin Grammys would snub “Despacito,” the smash hit from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.

“What explanation could I possibly give if it hadn’t been nominated?” says Latin Recording Academy president/CEO Gabriel Abaroa with a laugh, speaking of the song that spent 16 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.

While regional Mexican, a driving force of Latin music in the United States, and the emerging urban-rooted trap movement, were absent from the main categories, the field is nevertheless a balanced list reflecting the richness of today’s Latin music.

The 18th annual Latin Grammys will be broadcast live on Univision on Nov. 16 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Following is Billboard’s take on 10 of the most notable nominees.


Nine nominations, including album, song and record of the year

Formerly one-half of rap duo Calle 13Residente (real name René Pérez Joglar), 39, shares the record for most Latin Grammy wins (20). On the strength of his first solo album, he leads the 2017 nominations with nine. Residente debuted at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart with tracks including “Somos Anormales,” which is nominated for best urban song, and “Desencuentro,” up for best short form video. Radio did not embrace Residente’s music. But then again, he argues, radio gives listeners junk food “until you get a heart attack. If you don’t give people ‘broccoli’ — good music — things are going to hell.”

“Felices Los 4”

Seven nominations, including song and record of the year

Twenty-three-year-old Colombian heartthrob Maluma is on a hot streak, which is why both Ricky Martin and Shakira tapped him for recent singles. Shakira’s “Chantaje” spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, while Martin’s “Vente Pa’Cá” rose to No. 4. Maluma’s own hit, “Felices los 4” would have jumped from No. 2 to No. 1 were it not for “Despacito.” No matter: Maluma has managed to place all three songs simultaneously in the top 10 of YouTube’s weekly video chart, and now he has garnered an unprecedented three nominations in both the song and record of the year categories.

El Dorado
Six nominations, including album of the year

Shakira’s El Dorado went to No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums list even though she had been out of the spotlight for three years, busy raising her two sons, Milan, 4, and Sasha, 2. Yet the 40-year-old Colombian superstar still has her finger on the pulse: “Chantaje,” her sexy vamp with Maluma, was a No. 1 hit on Hot Latin Songs, and the track has earned Shakira three nominations for record, song and best urban fusion performance. It sets the tone for an album full of collaborations — Nicky Jam and Prince Royce, among others, make appearances — that introduce different genres — notably reggaetón and electronica — into Shakira’s pop universe.

A La Mar
Five nominations, including album of the year and best new artist

It’s tough to categorize the dreadlocked Garcia, 34, who veers from acoustic bachata to sweet boleros. Formerly the lead singer of Dominican alt-rock band Calor Urbano, he’s up for best new artist in his solo phase. His album A La Mar, produced by Eduardo Cabra (the other former half of Calle 13), is unabashedly experimental — it even includes an a cappella track performed with a chorus — and is nominated for best singer-songwriter album and album of the year, while “Bachata en Kingston,” a bachata-reggae blend, is up for best tropical song.

Misplanes Son Amarte
Five nominations, including album, record and song of the year

Juanes’ first visual album features videos for each of the tracks that create a cohesive film about an astronaut who travels from Mexico to Colombia in search of the woman he loves. With songs ranging from mystical to radio-friendly, the album allows Juanes, 45, to stretch artistically. “El Ratico,” his dance-ready collaboration with alt-Colombian-American chanteuse Kali Uchis, will compete for record of the year against “Amárrame,” the Mon Laferte song on which Juanes is a guest performer.

La Trenza

Five nominations, including album, record and song of the year

Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte, 34, was already a seasoned performer by the time she was nominated for best new artist at the 2016 Latin Grammys. She didn’t win, but her star has continued to rise. La Trenza, her 2017 release, is a fusion of alt-folk with twangy guitars, carried by a voice alternately sweet and forceful. La Trenza is competing for album of the year and best alternative music album, while “Amárrame,” featuring Juanes, is nominated for song, record and alternative song of the year.

Palabras Manuales

Five nominations, including album of the year and best new artist

Cuban MC Suarez, 29, may be nominated for best new artist, but she’s a veteran of Cuba’s rap and hip-hop movement. Suarez deftly fuses hip-hop with jazz, Cuban music and electronica, allowing her voice to soar over often complex musical lines. Suarez’s “Integridad,” featuring Stephen Marley, is up for best alternative song. Elsewhere, “Closer,” featuring The Idan Raichel Project from Israel, represents a coming together of cultures and languages.


Four nominations, including song and record of the year

The smash hit’s fusion of the smooth pop vocals of Fonsi, 39, the street swagger of Daddy Yankee, 40, and the elegant lyrics of songwriter Erika Ender, 42, proved irresistible to the usually hit-averse Latin Grammy voters. The song, also nominated for best urban fusion/performance for its Justin Bieber remix, is more relevant than ever. “I celebrated these four nominations like I haven’t celebrated anything in a long time,” said Fonsi, who got the news a week after Hurricane Maria devastated his native Puerto Rico, including the La Perla beach neighborhood of San Juan that is celebrated in the song. “And with everything that’s going on, it’s a breath of fresh air.”

Four nominations, including album of the year and urban fusion/performance

The first album from Nicky Jam in a decade is a 26-track tour de force, with songs that reveal how the 36-year-old escaped from a life of drugs and alcohol. Fenix debuted at No. 1 on Top Latin Albums and includes multiple collaborations with reggaetón royalty like Daddy Yankee and J Balvin, who says his friendship with Nicky Jam is “from the heart.” “El Amante,” which manages to merge strong melodies into a danceable style, is nominated for best urban song and best urban fusion/performance.

Musas: Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano En Manos De Los Macorinos
Four nominations, including album and song of the year

Lafourcade, 33, triumphed at the Latin Grammys in 2015 when she took home four awards, including record of the year for “Hasta la Raiz.” Her four nominations in 2017 are thanks to her collaboration on Musas with the guitar duo Los Macorinos, the longtime accompanists for Mexico’s legendary singer Chavela Vargas. A collection of Latin-American classics, Musas was recorded live in the studio, with Lafourcade drawing inspiration from the veteran musicians. “I had this desire to record with Los Macorinos and just make music for myself. I wanted an album that represented real music, bohemians, instruments made out of wood,” she says. “The music we made there is something we can’t explain; it could only be felt.”