Awards season may not be officially underway, but the Latin Grammys kicked things off a little early on Thursday night, when the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas was rocked to the rhythm of the Latin beat.
Performances from popular Latin artists such as Pitbull, Juanes and Carlos Santana were some of the highlights of this year’s event, which marked the 13th anniversary of the Latin Grammys.
Pitbull opened the show with a live performance of his hit “Don’t Stop the Party” and was also the final performer of the evening with the song “Crazy People.”
One of the biggest changes this year was the increase in the number of nominees in the main categories to a total of 10 hopefuls, compared to an average of five in past years.
After winning the award for best new artist in 2007, Mexican sibling pop duo Jesse & Joy Huerta came out on top this year with wins in four categories: Song of the Year and Record of the Year for their heart wrenching ballad “Â¡Corre!” (Run!), Best Contemporary Pop Album for “Â¿Con QuiÃ©n se Queda el Perro?” (Who Gets the Dog?) and Best Short Form Music Video for the song “Me Voy” (I’m Leaving). Jesse & Joy also performed “Â¡Corre!” with the accompaniment of aerialists who acted out the sorrowful lyrics of the song.
Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes also received top honors for his recent “MTV Unplugged” project, which was named album of the year. This award brings Juanes to a total of 19 Latin Grammys in his career ““ the most for any solo artist ““ and he now ties Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Calle 13 for the record.
Juanes also performed an updated version of the title track of his first album “FÃjate Bien,” accompanied by the legendary Carlos Santana.
Dominican singer, songwriter and producer Juan Luis Guerra, who produced Juanes’ “MTV Unplugged” album, earned the most Latin Grammy nominations this year and was named producer of the year in addition to sharing Juanes’s award for album of the year.
Mexican actress and singer Lucero and Chilean actor CristiÃ¡n de la Fuente co-hosted the awards for the second time in a row and shared sometimes witty and sometimes scripted-sounding banter ““ not to mention a much-talked-about kiss ““ as they introduced the evening’s presenters and performers. Thursday evening also marked Lucero’s fifth time co-hosting the awards.
The Latin recording academy also named Brazilian songwriter Caetano Veloso as this year’s person of the year, though his short performance was a far cry from last year’s elaborate medley by 2011 honoree Shakira.
One element that always prevails at the Latin Grammys is the wide variety of musical talent. With performers ranging from the electronic sound of Best New Artist winners 3BallMTY to salsa singer Victor Manuelle to Mexican legend Joan Sebastian’s duet with newcomer Prince Royce, all genres are represented each year and Thursday evening was no exception.
While the performances may not have been as exciting or unpredictable as in previous years, the winners included both veterans and fresh talent from the world of Latin music. After 13 years of honoring the best in the business, the awards have made great strides in making Latin music more mainstream and celebrating both the old and new faces of this market.
With the Grammy awards still to come on Feb. 10, the Latin Grammy’s have already started to (literally) shake things up.