Who should win at the 16th annual Latin Grammys? Who will win at the Latin Grammys?
It’s time for our annual predictions for select categories. As ever, please remember that these are not based on personal taste, but on past performance and voting patterns. We aren’t always right; if we were, what would be the fun?
Record of the Year
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hate the fact that the main categories have 10 contenders each. It just tends to dilute the running. Having said that, this is a strong category. Bomba Estéreo’s “Fiesta” wasn’t a big radio hit (at least not in the U.S.), but it’s edgy, adventurous and totally different from anything else. So much, that it enticed Will Smith. It will, however, lose before the might that are Juan Luis Guerra (with “Tus besos”) and Alejandro Sanz (with “Un zombie en la interperie”) in this voting community.
Album of the year
Natalia Lafourcade’s Hasta la Raíz is a breakthrough album for the Mexican singer/songwriter. Here, she goes beyond her alt roots into commercial territory but with finesse and guts that stay close to her origins. However, the winner will be Alejandro Sanz’s Sirope, a fine album that sold extremely well in Spain and carries the Sanz seal of recognition.
Song of the Year
There are excellent songs here, but not a single big hit. That makes it a toss-up, as many voters won’t have heard many of the nominees. If we go by prestige alone, this win is for Alejandro Sanz’s “Un zombie en la intemperie,” which happens to be a beautiful track. My vote, however, goes to Pablo Alborán’s “Por fin.” At a time when romance is largely off the airwaves, it’d be nice to get a new take on the subject.
Best New Artist
Ten great names, almost all of them little-known. In that scenario, we’re placing our bets on singer/songwriter Raquel Sofia, who has a distinctive sound and personality and cirtical acclaim. Vasquez Sounds and Monsieur Periné are also contenders. Anything else would be surprising.
Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album
With Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz and Pablo Alborán in the running, this will be interesting. However, history has shown Alejandro Sanz to be the favorite every time he appears. Our bets are on his Sirope.
Best Urban Performance
As has been the case in the past few years, the best battle is fought in this category. While Daddy Yankee’s “Sígueme y te sigo” and J Balvin’s “Ay Vamos” are stiff competition, this one should, and will, go to Nicky Jam and Enrique Iglesias’ “El perdón,” particularly considering they were shut out of the main categories.
Best Urban Music Album
What a toss-up. It’s tempting to go for Nicky Jam, but a greatest-hits album isn’t compelling to voters. I love Don Omar’s The Last Don II, but Yandel’s Legacy: De Líder a leyenda tour got wider play and also, highlights an artist in frank artistic expansion. My bets are on Yandel.
Best Urban Song
The showdown here is between Balvin’s “Ay vamos” and Yankee’s “Sígueme y te sigo.” Reggaeton is still close to its Puerto Rican roots. This one will go to Daddy Yankee.
Best Pop/Rock Album
Hard to imagine that Maná wont take this one home with their Cama Incendiada, an album that’s carefully crafted, that experiments with genres and styles and pushed the group’s boundaries, and that also delivered an unusual hit with its collaboration with Shakira.
Best Salsa Album
Ruben Blades, recording here with Roberto Delgado & Orchestra, is a critical favorite. Plus, Son de Panama runs a broad gamut of inventiveness. But Victor Manuelle has delivered one of his finest recordings in Que Suenen los Tambores, not to mention one laden with hits. It’s his time.
Best Banda Album
Banda El Recodo are Grammy darlings. But this truly has been the year of Julión Alvarez and his Norteño Band. This category should be his to win.
Best Norteño Album
It will be tempting to vote for Ariel Camacho following his tragic death earlier this year. But this one should go to Voz de Mando, whose Levantando Polvadera packs punch and attitude.