Each year, Billboard offers its analysis of who will win and who should win in the main categories in the Latin Grammys. These are educated guesses based on the marketplace and past voting behavior. They are not endorsements of one artist over another. This year, leading up to Thursday’s (Nov. 16) Latin Grammys, we’ve gathered our Latin editorial team and embarked on a lively discussion about predictions.
Our participants are Leila Cobo, Billboard’s executive director of Latin content and programming; Suzette Fernández, assistant editor for Billboard en Español; Marjua Estevez, associate editor, Latin, for Billboard.com; and Pamela Bustios, Billboard’s Latin charts manager.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
“La Flor De La Canela,” Rubén Blades
“El Surco,” Jorge Drexler
“Quiero Que Vuelvas,” Alejandro Fernández
“Despacito,” Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee
“El Ratico,” Juanes feat. Kali Uchis
“Amárrame,” Mon Laferte feat. Juanes
“Felices Los 4,” Maluma
“Vente Pa’ Ca” Ricky Martin feat. Maluma
“Chantaje,” Shakira feat. Maluma
Leila Cobo: The record of the year category is different from song of the year because it’s not given to the composition but to the actual recording, based on the quality of the recording. Maluma would have been such a contender, and I love “Felices Los 4.” But with two songs, his voting will be diluted. I think the award will go to Residente’s “Guerra,” which is phenomenal, or to Juanes’ also wonderful “El Ratico” featuring Kali Uchis. Grammy voters love Juanes and Residente.
Marjua Estevez: I like “Chantaje” too. But I was looking at Juanes and Kali Uchis because of the crossover aspect. But “Despacito” fully ruled the charts and the radio, and it was the summer darling. If Luis Fonsi is going to win anything, I would think record of the year.
Suzette Fernandez: I think Residente will win. His single and his new album, musically, are really good. But if I were to choose a winner, I would say “Vente Pa’Ca” by Ricky Martin and Maluma. The music is really good and they have good people in the production.
Pamela Bustios: I have two. “La Flor De La Canela” and “El Surco.” They’re both coming out of tribute albums for Chabuca Granda, and I’m Peruvian. Ruben Blades does an amazing job with “La Flor De La Canela,” but “El Surco” by Jorge Drexler is amazing. He flirts with the song, it’s joyful, it’s fresh, he provokes you with that song.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Salsa Big Band, Rubén Blades Con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta
Antonio Carmona, Antonio Carmona
A La Mar, Vicente García
Fénix, Nicky Jam
Mis Planes Son Amarte, Juanes
La Trenza, Mon Laferte
Musas (Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano En Manos De Los Macorinos, Vol. 1), Natalia Lafourcade
El Dorado, Shakira
Palabras Manuales, Danay Suarez
LC: I would be so surprised if Residente doesn’t win this. A superb album, great backstory, strong Grammy history. Having said that, I love Nicky Jam’s album not just because of the hits, but because of everything it symbolizes in his comeback. Also given the importance of reggaeton today, I think having Nicky Jam win with an album that was really very thought-out and has a mix of commercial and non-commercial would be a good message.
ME: I think Residente will win. But I would love Danay Suarez’s Palabras Manuales to win. I think she’s poised. I think she has the possibility of being an eminent Spanish-speaking female artist of the reggae genre.
SF: I’m in love with the new Nicky Jam, honestly. But we also have Juanes there. Musically the album is really good. But once again, I think Residente is going to win.
PB: I have two favorites. One is Musas by Natalia Lafourcade. Natalia carefully picked every single song on that album — and her haunting voice with Los Macorinos, it’s an amazing fusion. And Residente, he’s gone into the job of actually getting a DNA test and looking at the history to find out where he comes from. I saw him perform the whole album live, and the band is amazing. It’s like an adventure.
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Amárrame,” Mon Laferte, songwriter (Mon Laferte feat. Juanes)
“Chantaje,” Kevin Mauricio Jiménez Londoño, Bryan Snaider Lezcano Chaverra, Joel Antonio López Castro, Maluma and Shakira, songwriters (Shakira featuring Maluma)
“Desde Que Estamos Juntos,” Descemer Bueno and Melendi, songwriters (Melendi)
“Despacito,” Daddy Yankee, Erika Ender and Luis Fonsi, songwriters (Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee)
“Ella,” Ricardo Arjona, songwriter (Ricardo Arjona)
“Felices Los 4,” Mario Cáceres, Kevin Mauricio Jiménez Londoño, Maluma, Servando Primera, Stiven Rojas and Bryan Snaider Lezcano Chaverra, songwriters (Maluma)
“Guerra,” Residente and Jeff Trooko, songwriters (Residente)
“La Fortuna,” Diana Fuentes and Tommy Torres, songwriters (Diana Fuentes feat. Tommy Torres)
“Tú Sí Sabes Quererme,” Natalia Lafourcade, songwriter (Natalia Lafourcade feat. Los Macorinos)
“Vente Pa’ Ca,” Nermin Harambasic, Maluma, Ricky Martin, Mauricio Montaner, Ricky Montaner, Lars Pedersen, Carl Ryden, Justin Stein, Ronny Vidar Svendsen and Anne Judith Stokke Wik, songwriters (Ricky Martin feat. Maluma)
LC: Song of the year is a category given to the songwriter. And it has to be “Despacito.” I don’t care how good any other song is. It just has to be this one.
SF: I would give a chance to “Felices Los 4,” which has also been a very big hit.
ME: I think that the only competition “Despacito” has is Residente’s “Guerra.” But I love “Felices Los 4″!
PB: I was going to go with “Tu Si Sabes Quererme” by Natalia Lafourcade because it’s a beautiful song. But song of the year of course is “Despacito.” It’s been on the charts forever, it spent 16 weeks at the top of the charts on the Hot 100. This alone makes it deserve to win this year.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Martina La Peligrosa
Mau y Ricky
LC: Now the very hotly contested best new artist category. It’s such a good category this year.
ME: I like the mix.
LC: CNCO have been such a fantastic success story because it’s a boy band that comes from a TV show. I think no one thought that this would do anything beyond that. And here they are two years later, and they’re doing remarkably well. With that said, I think Mau y Ricky are excellent and maybe this is the push they need to kind of really gain the attention that I think they deserve. They’re really great musicians and they have the backing of the music industry because they have such a musical pedigree being the children of Ricardo Montaner. I believe Mau y Ricky are going to win.
SF: CNCO, totally. I don’t see anybody else as strong as CNCO in that category. I think they’re humble, they’re still natural. That’s why fans love them so much.
ME: I’m not even that familiar with their discography, but I’ve noticed their following and their fans’ reactions to their music is bonkers.
I think they’ll win, just based on how the general public and their fans have received them. Who I would love to win is, of course, Danay Suarez.
PB: CNCO is a great band and they’re fresh, and their sound is amazing. But I have to go with Marjua: Danay Suarez is my favorite new artist. I think she’s the complete package. Of course, she’s not as mainstream as CNCO.
BEST SHORT FORM VIDEO
“Soy Yo,” Bomba Estéreo
“Despacito,” Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee
“Los Charcos,” Dani Martín
“Desencuentro,” Residente feat. Soko
LC: The ‘Desencuentro’ video is out of this world. I love it. I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s a work of art. I think it should definitely win, except that we have ‘Despacito’ and I do not see how you can ignore four billion views on YouTube.
ME: I think “Despacito” is gonna win. But I would love to see “Soy Yo” win. I love, love, love that video. I love the little girl. I thought it was beautiful. It was filmed in Brooklyn. I love the aesthetics of it. I love her funk. I love her attitude, and I felt like home watching it just because I’m from New York. So I appreciated the very vintage aesthetics to the video.
SF: I think “Desencuentro” is a really good video. It’s really artistic. But I have to vote for “Despacito.” My island is Puerto Rico, so I feel connected to the video.
PB: ‘Desencuentro’ is a work of art. Completely agree with everything you just said. The first time I actually heard the song I was in love, and then I watched the video and I was more in love. But of course, “Despacito” is ‘”Despacito.” We have to give it its place.
BEST URBAN SONG
“A Chapa É Quente!,” Língua Franca
“Coqueta,” Ghetto Kids
“El amante,” Nicky Jam
“Hey Ma (Spanish Version),” Pitbull & J Balvin feat. Camila Cabello
“Papa,” Lápiz Consciente feat. Vico C
“Somos anormales,” Residente
LC: It’s been a year of streaming, it’s been a year of singles and it’s been a year of a lot of fusion with urban music primarily. Interestingly enough, this is not a category of hits. But I think it’s going be a contest between “Somos Anormales” and “El Amante.” It will boil down to if voters will go for more commercial fare or not. I think this category should be won by “El Amante” because it reflects the trend of music right now globally, and what a fantastic song it is.
ME: I think Residente is brilliant. I like “El Amante” too, but I think Residente will win this. But I wanted to see Ozuna somewhere. He’s missing!
SF: I’m all the way with “El Amante.”
PB: I agree with Marjua. I would love Residente to win and I would have loved to see Ozuna as well.