Who will win at the 2018 Latin Grammys? Each year, Billboard offers its analysis of who will win and who should win in the main categories. 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 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, associate editor, Latin, for Billboard.com; Jessica Roiz, assistant editor for Billboard en Español; and Latin contributor Judy Cantor-Navas.
Here are our predictions:
RECORD OF THE YEAR
“No vaya a ser,” Pablo Alborán
“É fake (Homem Barato),” Anaadi
“Mi gente,” J Balvin con Willy William
“Internacionales,” Bomba Estéreo
“Telefonia,” Jorge Drexler
“Para siempre,” Kany García
“X,” Nicky Jam & J Balvin
“Danza de gardenias,” Natalia Lafourcade Featuring Los Macorinos
“Bailar contigo,” Monsieur Periné
Leila Cobo: I love “Malamente,” but I’m going to be contrarian here. Of all the categories J Balvin is nominated in, this is the one where he should clearly win, in my opinion. It’s been over a year since “Mi Gente” with Willy William was released, so we’re no longer in immediate awe of its groundbreaking beats and electrifying fusion. Not only did “Mi Gente” make the entire world dance and raised awareness of Latin music, but it also exemplifies the meaning of the “record of the year” category as one that honors the actual recording of the song — in this case, a masterful remake of the Willy William original with a Latin twist.
Judy Cantor Navas: As always, this field is eclectic. Some may even call it random, but as with the Latin Grammys overall, it provides a space for diverse voices. I’m going to go for “Malamente” by Rosalía. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen so much excitement about a song among those who work in music, and I’m hoping that excitement will carry her to a win — the hype is deserved.
Suzette Fernandez: I would love to see Nicky Jam and J Balvin win a Latin Grammy together with “X.” It could be an epic moment. But Rosalía can win with “Malamente” because the song brings new sounds and a new style in music with her flamenco pop.
Jessica Roiz: Even though I dance to Nicky Jam and J Balvin’s “X” at every party, I would love to see Rosalia walk away with record of the year for “Malamente.” Her musical style, as heard in this masterpiece, is a modern take on the traditional flamenco from Spain. Who else can modernize flamenco with Latin trap and pop music and make it sound so fresh? Rosalia — no ifs, ands or buts.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Prometo, Pablo Alborán
Vibras, J Balvin
Caravanas, Chico Buarque
Salvavidas de hielo, Jorge Drexler
Siguiente, El David Aguilar
Soy yo, Kany García
Musas (Un homenaje al folclore latinoamericano de manos de Los Macorinos), Vol. 2, Natalia Lafourcade
Encanto Tropical, Monsieur Periné
Cuando el río suena, Rozalén
JCN: This is a tough one for me, because this whole field demonstrates the very healthy state of Latin music that has not necessarily made it to the U.S. Latin charts. My heart bursts when I listen to Chico Buarque’s version of Pablo Milanes’ “Yolanda.” And Rozalén really deserves this. But I think that Jorge Drexler can win this category with Salvavidas de Hielo. The Latin Grammy veteran is already on the radar of the Academy’s members, and this album is Drexler at his best — my personal favorite since his 2004 groundbreaker Eco.
LC: This is a category where the Academy is very eclectic and notably not reliant on commercial success. I think Drexler has a good shot, but my inclination is for either Kany García or Natalia LaFourcade. My favorite is Kany García’s Soy Yo, a gutsy album, beautifully executed, and the songs are all potential hits. But Balvin’s Vibras is a fantastic album and also worthy of the nod.
SF: I think Kany Garcia will be the winner with Soy Yo. I’ts a great album vocally and musically.
JR: J Balvin never fails to impress, and Vibras is proof of that — so are his Latin Grammy nods, leading the pack with eight. Balvin’s fifth studio album is home to many bomb collaborations, including Carla Morrison, Wisin & Yandel, Anitta and Rosalia. In fact, “Mi Gente” with Willy William and “No Es Justo” featuring Zion & Lennox have become party anthems for many people around the world.
SONG OF THE YEAR
“La Puerta violeta,” Rozalén songwriter (Rozalén)
“Malamente,” Antón Alvarez Alfaro, Pablo Diaz-Reixa & Rosalia, songwriters “Para siempre,” Kany García, songwriter (Kany García)
“Robarte un beso,” Mauricio Rengifo, Andrés Torres, Carlos Vives & Sebastian Yatra, songwriters (Carlos Vives & Sebastian Yatra)
“Telefonía,” Jorge Drexler, songwriter (Jorge Drexler)
“Antes de ti,” Manú Jalil & Mon Laferte, songwriters (Mon Laferte)
“Bailar contigo,” Monsieur Periné & Mauricio Rengifo, songwriters (Monsieur Periné)
“Danza de gardenias,” David Aguilar Dorantes & Natalia Lafourcade, songwriters (Natalia Lafourcade Featuring Los Macorinos)
“Embrujo,” El David Aguilar, songwriter (El David Aguilar)
“Tu vida mi vida,” Fito Páez, songwriter (Fito Páez)
LC: Great songs here, but I don’t see how this could not go to Rosalía’s “Malamente.” All eyes are on her. I will add that Fito Páez’s “Tu Vida Mi Vida” is the kind of love song everyone would love to see dedicated to them.
JCN: I’m glad to see women performers dominating this field, and I think “Malamente” (Rosalía), “Bailar Contigo” (Monsieur Periné) and “Danza de Gardenias,” sung by perennial Latin Grammy favorite Natalia LaFourcade, could all win this one. Personally, I’m rooting for “La Puerta Violeta,” written and performed by Rozalén. Not only did she write a nonconformist pop song, she made the personal political with a powerful anthem that’s been adopted by the women’s movement in Spain and South America.
SF: I believe the winner will be “Robarte Un Beso” because it has a great group of songwriters behind, but there’s three other songs that can surprise us: “Embrujo” by El David Aguilar, Kany Garcia’s “Para Siempre” and Rosalía with “Malamente.”
JR: My go-to is “Bailar Contigo.” With its infectious tropical vibes, Monsieur Perine’s single is refreshing to the ear and an enchanting production.
BEST NEW ARTIST
El David Aguilar
LC: I would like to see Karol G or Christian Nodal win this one. Artists from totally different ends of the spectrum, both have worked hard, and both have shown staying power. This category should honor both artistry and good artist development, and these two are excellent examples.
JCN: While I’m expecting that Karol G will take this one, I’m hoping that poetry will triumph over flash with an upset by multiple nominee El David Aguilar. Whether he wins or not, the Mexican singer-songwriter is one to watch. I will also continue to have my ear on Dominican artist Alex Ferreira, who is nominated in this category as well.
SF: This category is complicated. I would like to say Karol G, but everyone here is very talented. My top three are Angela Aguilar, David Aguilar and Christian Nodal. I think El David Aguilar can be the winner.
JR: Christian Nodal is someone whose career I’ve been following very closely for the past two years. Not only does he have an enthralling voice, but he’s part of the Mexillennial wave changing the game in the Regional Mexican scene. I would love to see this 19-year-old take home best new artist.
BEST SHORT FORM VIDEO
“Duele,” Bomba Este?reo
“Pa dentro,” Juanes
“Sexo,” Residente & Dillon Francis feat. Ile
SF: I believe that Residente will win with his “Guerra” video because it completely tells a story, a real life story.
JR: I’m a fan of everything Residente does, but on this occasion, my vote for best short form video goes to Rosalia’s “Malamente.” This music video is 2 minutes and 48 seconds of pure art! The way I interpret this visual masterpiece is that of an empowered and rebellious woman who finally broke free from the toxic relationship she was in.
JCN: Residente is competing against himself in this category, with “Sexo” and “Guerra.” I wish that both could win. While “Guerra” once again shows that Rene Pérez has the balls to speak out on what we should all be talking about, “Sexo” lampoons the usual message of Latin urban videos with a sense of humor that has unfortunately become all too rare. And then there’s Rosalía’s fabulous “Malamente,” which is what cast all eyes on her this year with images of motorcycle bullfighting and ecclesiastical skateboarding. It will probably win, and it should.
LC: I’m for Rosalía’s “Malamente” here. We need new blood in this category, and this video breaks paradigms.
BEST URBAN SONG
-“Downtown,” Anitta, J. Balvin, Justin Quiles & Alejandro Rami?rez, songwriters (Anitta feat. J Balvin)
-“Dura,” Daddy Yankee, Urbani Mota Ceden?o, Juan G. Rivera Vazquez & Luis Jorge Romero, songwriters (Daddy Yankee)
-“Mi cama,” Rene David Cano, Andy Clay, Karol G, Antonio Rayo & Omar Sabino, songwriters (Karol G)
-“Sensualidad,” J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Juan M. Fri?as, Luian Malave, Prince Royce, Edgar Semper & Xavier Semper, songwriters (Bad Bunny, Prince Royce & J Balvin)
-“X,” Giordano Ashruf, Rashid Badloe, Shareef Badloe, J Balvin, Nicky Jam, Juan Diego Medina Ve?lez & Jonathan Bryan Thiel, songwriters (Nicky Jam & J Balvin)
SF: This is not an easy category. But, I have the feeling that the winner will be “X.” Yes, Nicky Jam and J Balvin together!
JR: The competition is tough in this category, but they don’t call Anitta the Queen of Brazil for nothing! I fell in love with “Downtown” the very first moment it came out, and seeing this collab with J Balvin win best urban song would be nothing short of well-deserved. I love how a woman takes the reins in this sensual track and how the deep urban bass makes me want to replay this song at all times.
LC: This is such a key category. Urban songs have been driving the Latin market in the past year and all these tracks were huge hits. I’m also going to bet on “X” for the sheer star power of Nicky Jam and J Balvin together.
BEST URBAN MUSIC ALBUM
Vibras, J Balvin
Sin Miedo, ChocQuibTown
JR: Odisea. I am obsessed with every song on this album — and I know I’m not the only one! Ozuna made history on Billboard‘s Top Latin Albums chart, setting a record for most weeks at No. 1 for an album by a male artist in the 24-year history of the tally.
LC: Ozuna with Odisea or J Balvin with Vibras? Both these albums are an example of how good reggaetón and urban music can be, while being commercially successful. Because this is Ozuna’s only nomination, I’ll go with Odisea. He deserves to win.