Alternative Mexican band Cafe Tacvba is the leading nominee for the ninth annual Latin Grammy Awards, garnering six nods including album of the year (for "Sino") and song of the year (for "Esta Vez").
Juanes netted five nominations for his album "La Vida...Es Un Ratico" and his song "Me Enamora." His producer and fellow recording artist Gustavo Santaolalla garnered four nods for production credits for Cafe Tacvba and Juanes and one nod with his own group, Bajofondo.
Andres Calamaro, newcomer Kany Garcia and Mexican alt-chanteuse Julieta Venegas earned four nominations each, while Gloria Estefan, Victor Manuelle, Soraya Moraes and Ximena Sariñana scored three.
The nominees lean toward Latin rock and alternative music, genres that, with few exceptions, have seen sales flounder in the United States. "Sino" has sold 23,000 copies here, according to Nielsen SoundScan, although Café Tacvba is popular in many Latin countries.
Reached at Café Tacvba’s Mexico City studio, keyboardist Emmanuel del Real said, “Maybe despite the fact that we don’t sell millions of records, there’s more behind it— there’s all the music, what’s around us and what provokes us.”
"Sino” marked the group’s return after a four-year hiatus during which its members did solo projects. “The fact that they recognize us like this shows that the music still speaks for itself and still keeps moving and connecting and communicating,” said del Real.
“They write music without compromises, let’s say rather alternative,” said Santaolalla, who helped announce the nominations in Los Angeles. His influence was all over the nominated works this year, in his productions with Café Tacvba and Juanes. Bajofondo, his own group, was also nominated for best short form video and its song “El Mareo” is up for best alternative song. (Songwriters are Juan Campodonico and Fernando Santullo).
The Latin Grammys also placed special attention this year on new acts, with promising artists like Kany Garcia and Ximena Sariñana getting multiple nods. Both belong to a new generation of female songwriters with distinct sounds and personalities who are also garnering commercial success.
Garcia scored nominations for album of the year, song of the year, best new artist and best female pop vocal album for her Sony BMG debut, “Cualquier Dia.” When her album of the year nomination was announced, a shocked Garcia went slightly limp in her silver minidress and leaned against fellow Latin Grammy nominee Flex for support.
“I couldn’t believe the moment I was living,” Garcia said with a laugh after the announcements. A Puerto Rico native, Garcia credited living in Mexico for a time and breaking there with helping her to reach mainland U.S. audiences.
A surprise album of the year nomination went to Buika, a flamenco-jazz singer from Spain who was nominated alongside acts with much more name recognition in the U.S.
Buika, who is on tour in Europe and Latin America, said being nominated was “marvelous,” but that she didn’t care if it helped her career. “Music is the only legitimate religion that exists to reinvent our hearts and stomachs and sexuality and our love. Art is what teaches us to live. I don’t care about anything, just art, and that they support art…this is being at home.”
Sariñana received nods for best new artist, producer of the year (with Tweety Gonzalez) and songwriter for Best Alternative Song nominee “Normal.”
Sporting an orange dress, a black cap and no makeup, the alt-jazz ingénue said the producer nomination “is amazing because it was something I’ve never done before, so I’m happy that people are recognizing that Tweety and me and Juan [Campodonico] had good instincts.”
Asked if she thought the nominations would elevate her profile in the U.S., Sariñana confessed, “I really don’t know how popular the Grammys are in the U.S.! I hope it does.”
Nominees in the best new artist category also include Monica Giraldo, who won a talent showcase competition at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in 2007. Only one regional Mexican act, Vicente Fernandez, was present in the four main categories, with his album "Para Siempre" contending for best album.
As happens some years, the same names came up again and again in the top categories.
“For the membership, those albums were probably so well-rounded and so perfect that they just made it in all of [the categories]. These albums made it in all the ways: great songs, great recording, great concept and if it’s a new artist, hey, voila, you have the formula," Latin Recording Academy president Gabriel Abaroa said. "I think it gives a little more consistency. It makes you think that the [members] are looking for the same terms of quality.”
The Latin Grammys will air live on the Univision network from the Toyota Center in Houston on Nov. 13.