The two acts represent two totally opposite sides of the broad spectrum represented in the category, which pits wildly different genres against each other under the same umbrella.
Lafourcade won for Hasta la Raíz (Sony), an album of intensely personal songs with an alternative vibe that’s been very successful in her native Mexico but has a decidedly niche following in the U.S. None of the songs, including the title track, have had any airplay here. In contrast, Pitbull’s Dale (Sony), his first Spanish language album in years, has produced a long string of singles, including current chart-topper “El Taxi,” featuring Cuban rapper Osmani Garcia.
But while Pitbull had the name recognition (plus, he’s performing in tonight’s award show), Lafourcade had critical adoration; she was the big winner in November’s Latin Grammy awards, a fact that no doubt influenced voters.
“The irony winning the Grammy for Spanish at the Anglo side,” quipped Pitbull, ever the social observer, on his Twitter account. Thank you! Dale!”
— Pitbull (@pitbull) February 15, 2016
The other Latin winners in the pre-award ceremony were Ricky Martin, who won best Latin pop album for A quien quiera escuchar (Sony); Los Tigres del Norte, winners for best regional Mexican music album for Realidades (Fonovisa); and Ruben Blades in the best tropical album category for Son de Panama, his indie release with Roberto Delgado & Orchestra.
None of the winners were on hand to receive their awards, perhaps in part because Latin acts have so little presence at the Grammy ceremony (Pitbull’s performance notwithstanding).
Although Billboard correctly predicted three out of four wins this year, these were contested battles, with truly deserving albums competing in every category.