Natalia Lafourcade & Leonel Garcia Lead Latin Grammy Nominations

Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Natalia Lafourcade performs onstage during the 14th Annual Latin Grammy Awards held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on November 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  

It is the year of the unexpected at the Latin Grammys, with two Mexican singer/songwriters who haven’t entered the Billboard charts in years scoring the most nominations. Leonel García -- who sold millions as one half of Mexican pop duo Sin Bandera back in the early '00s but whose solo career hasn’t been nearly as successful -- leads the list of nominees with six nods, including for song and record of the year (for two different tracks) and best singer-songwriter album.  

Following in number of nods is Natalia Lafourcade, an alt-pop singer-songwriter who was nominated for a best new artist Latin Grammy back in 2003. Lafourcade is up for five awards, including album of the year for Hasta La Raíz and song and record of the year for its title song, which, coincidentally, she wrote with García -- which gives him his three additional Latin Grammy nods this year.

Superstar names follow in a number of nominations.

Latin Grammy darlings Juan Luis Guerra and Alejandro Sanz each claimed four -- including for record and album of the year -- as did engineers Edgar Barrera, Demián Nava, and Alan Saucedo and producer Cachorro López.

And Nicky Jam and Ricky Martin each had three nominations, as did Pablo Alborán, Café Quijano, Pedro Capó and Vicentico.

In Nicky Jam’s case, his nominations fall in step with the Latin Grammys’ sometimes quirky modus operandi. His smash hit “El Perdón,” with Enrique Iglesias, is up for best urban performance, but not for song or record of the year, despite the fact that it’s been -- without a doubt -- the biggest Latin song of the year anywhere in the world.

For the full list of 2015 Latin Grammy nominees, head here

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The eclectic nominations reflected a year of no other huge global hits, but also, the global nature of the awards themselves, which honor recordings released not only in the U.S. but also in the entire Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.

Lafourcade’s nods are a perfect example. Although her album is in Mexico’s top 10 sales chart, here -- where she is little known -- it will only be released in physical format Sept. 25 (it’s available digitally), and it has yet to reach any chart at all.

“I felt last year’s list was a little bit more predictable, in the sense that all the big, heavy names were there, and Enrique was there with his big hit [“Bailando”],” Gabriel Abaroa, president/CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, told Billboard. “I was surprised to see so much new product this year, finding its place next to names we’re used to seeing.”

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Abaroa mentioned Colombian bands Bomba Stereo, who are up for record and alternative album of the year, and new Colombian band Monsieur Periné, which is up for best new artist and also album of the year. Monsieur Periné’s album was produced by a Latin Grammy darling, Eduardo Cabra, one half of Calle 13, who holds the record for most Latin Grammy wins.

As has been the case for the past four years, the main categories had 10 nominees, an effort, says Abaroa, to open up the spectrum of possibilities for artists who may otherwise not be in the running.

The results, he says, are sometimes unexpected but they reflect great quality.

“I feel we’ve flipped the tortilla,” he said with a laugh.

The 16th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will air live on the Univision network Nov. 19 from the MGM Grand Garden Area in Las Vegas.

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