Latin Grammy Winners: 'Despacito' Is King, Ruben Blades Wins Album of the Year, Eduardo Cabra Named Producer of the Year
The world knows it and the Latin Grammys confirmed it: “Despacito” is a global musical giant and the track was rewarded multiple times at the 18th edition of the awards show on Thursday night (Oct. 16).
Upbeat and catchy, Luis Fonsi's “Despacito” has transcended language, borders and cultures since its release early this year. The song took top Latin Grammys including best song of the year, best record of the year, best urban album fusion/performance and best short form video.
“Viva Puerto Rico,” said Fonsi during one of his turns on stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. “This award is for everyone and especially for those not necessarily recognized during these awards such as the engineers.”
One notable upset was “Residente” not taking album of the year, which instead went to Rubén Blades for Salsa Big Band.
“I feel bad when one person wins,” Blades said during his emotional acceptance speech, as he dedicated the win to his native Panama. "You don’t want people to lose.”
Backstage, some members of the press repeatedly asked Fonsi about the possibility that he and Daddy Yankee had a beef because Yankee did not attend the awards show to perform with him. But he quickly put a stop to those rumors. “There’s no problem,” said Fonsi, alluding to other rumors surrounding another "Despacito" collaborator, Justin Bieber. "They are my brothers and without them I would not have accomplished this.”
Best new artist winner Vicente Garcia, who hails from the Dominican Republic, was thrilled to have taken prizes for best tropical song and best singer/songwriter for the album A La Mar. “I was really not expecting this,” Garcia said during his time in the media center. “I was just happy with the nominations.”
They perform as Calle 13, but Visitante and Residente each won individual awards during the pre-telecast for best urban album and producer of the year, respectively. (Residente also later won for best urban song, “Somos Anormales”)
“It’s a very special day,” Visitante said as he received his award. “I want to thank all those maestros who have taught us lessons and told us their stories. This has been an incredible year.”
Juanes took home two awards -- best pop/rock album and best engineered album -- while Shakira won for best contemporary pop vocal album.
Lin-Manuel Miranda received the Latin Grammy Presidential award for his contributions to music and encouraged people to keep Puerto Rico in their minds and hearts. “We’ve got to keep collaborating and change the world,” Miranda said. “No one gets here alone.”
“Despacito” video director, Carlos R. Perez, said backstage that the song has placed Latin music in the brightest spotlight yet. “Latino culture is becoming more influential globally and in the overall culture it’s a huge accomplishment," said Perez. Later, Perez took a more serious tone, adding that filming the video in Puerto Rico continues to shed light on the recent events surrounding Hurricane Maria and the response by U.S. authorities.
“It’s a serious fucking issue,” Perez said. “The reaction from the U.S. government should have been more aggressive. The president is a fucking joke.”
Chilean singer/songwriter Mon Laferte took home prize for best alternative song, which marked a major milestone for the “Amárrame” songstress (whose winning song features Juanes).
“This is my first Latin Grammy,” Laferte said, as she clutched her trophy. “It’s okay to cry the first time, right? Thank you to the entire team…Juanes for being so generous. I am so nervous, I am happy and thank you for voting for my song.”
Alejandro Sanz was presented with the person of the year honor and performed some of his hits including “Cuando nadie me ve” “No es lo Mismo” and “Corazon Partido.” For the last song he was joined by a group of "Dreamers" who embraced the Spanish singer in a group hug.
“I’d like to dedicate this recognition to kids who have lived in this country illegally, they are the 'Dreamers'. I want to dedicate this award to them. It’s for Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Texas, Las Vegas, Florida. It is for all for you.”
Mexican singer/songwriter Natalia Lafourcade’s Musas took home awards including best folk album and best long music video for “Musas, El Documental,” while Lila Downs’ Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo won for best traditional pop vocal album.
Downs, also an activist who recently brought awareness to disaster relief efforts in her native Mexico, singled out her husband and musical collaborator Paul Cohen in an emotional speech.
“I want to thank him for life recognition of music and also [recognize] my dear Oaxaca,” said Downs, who ended her speech by telling the audience to look out for “all the dangerous women in the world.”
Iconic regional Mexican act Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga took honors for best banda album, Marc Anthony won for best Latin children’s album with Marc Anthony For Babies, and Colombian rock band Diamante Eléctronico took the trophy for best rock album (La Gran Oscilación) in addition to best rock song for “Déjala Rodar,” a category that was jointly won by Andrés Calamaro for “La Noche.”
Later backstage, Calamaro talked about a career in music, but when asked about how he wanted to be remembered, he didn't hesitate to lighten the mood. “I want to be remembered for being sexually appealing until I am 100,” Calamaro quipped. He added that “it’s important to have a good attitude even when one loses because he’s lost many times before." Calamaro also admitted: “I’m a good loser. This is also an important time to connect with all those people I have met through the years. We are in the company of a good team.”
The show’s many musical numbers featured various nominees, but it was Fonsi who closed the event with a special version of “Despacito,” which featured Bomba Estero, Victor Manuel and Diplo.
For the full list of winners visit LatinGrammys.com.