Backbeat: Billboard Mexican Music Awards: The Great Cowboy Hat Debate (Photo Gallery)
Backbeat: Billboard Mexican Music Awards: The Great Cowboy Hat Debate (Photo Gallery)

PortisheadP
Pro-Cowboy Hats: Mexico's Violento firmly in the cowboy hat camp. (Photo: Arnold Turner)

The cowboy hat, perhaps as much a stereotype as a tradition, is the accessory most universally identified with regional Mexican music. But on the red carpet at the Billboard Mexican Music Awards in Los Angeles Thursday night, many artists in the male dominated genre doffed their sombreros for creative black tie that included sequins, diamond earrings, and slim-cut velvet suits.

"We don´t wear hats because we really want to present a young image," said Carlos Perez of La Banda Recoditos, who opened the awards show, which will be broadcast October 27 on Telemundo. On the red carpet, the 16 band members were dressed in gray suits, with various accessories, including piercings. "We broke tradition with our first hit 'Anda Bien Pedo'," Perez said. "Our music keeps transcending age and social class

Another hatless member of Regional Mexican's young guard was Songs Artist of the Year Larry Hernandez, who changed his sunglasses as well as jacket as the evening progressed.

Check out all of our Backbeats -- our exclusive look at the people behind the music business - right here.

But hats were still well represented, by groups like Grupo Montez de Durango. "The audiences like to see us standing up for tradition," said Jose Luis Terrazas Jr. "Sometimes we gel our hair up instead," he added. "But when it's a special event, we wear them."

Gerardo Ortiz, the 22-year-old corrido singer who was the night's big winner with six awards, had a simple reason for wearing his trademark black cowboy hat.

"It makes me look very elegant," he said

Portishead
Non-Cowboy Hat Wearing Grupo: La Banda Recoditos, who opened the awards show, don't wear cowboy hats. The band''s Carlos Perez said they don't wear hats because they "really want to present a young image." (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Mostly Hatted here..: Grupo Montez De Durango, based out of Chicago, shown here at the Billboard Mexican Music Awards, said they don cowboy hats at special events. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Not So Much Here...: The sartorially versatile Grupo Montez De Durango pictured here trading in their cowboy hats for gelled hair. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Mad Hatters: El Trono de Mexico from Santo Tomás de los Plátanos, Mexico clearly in the cowboy hat camp. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Newsboy Caps Don't Count: Chino y Nacho, not into cowboy hats. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Banda Los Tierra Nueva, more traditionally dressed but not sporting cowboy hats. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Hatless and Hatted Side-by-Side: Larry Hernandez (left) a hatless member of Regional Mexican's young guard who won Songs Artist of the Year with Gerardo Ortiz the night's big winner. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Portishead
Big Bright Bow Ties Instead: Mariachii Sol de Mexico seemed to be missing their sombreros (Photo: Arnold Turner)