Latin music gets no respect. Yesterday, the Grammys announced the 2020 nominations and shut out Latin artists. The only Spanish-language artist to be nominated in a major category is Rosalía, a non-Latin artist. While the 2020 Grammy nominations prove to be more diverse — Lizzo deservedly got eight nominations, the most of any other artists — Latinx artists are still left out in the cold.
Naysayers will point out that the 2020 Grammys includes four Latin music categories and also has its own award night, the annual Latin Grammy Awards. While that is true, here’s why it is still problematic. Firstly, the 2020 Grammys nominations are kind of a joke. One category recognizes the best album in Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative — that is three different genres in one category! The Best Latin Pop category again praises the work of a select few who don’t even fall under a “pop” category. That category should be titled “The Best Selling Album” or “The Most Mainstream Artist” because Latin Pop is definitely not a combo of adult contemporary and reggaeton.
Secondly, as we saw this year, the Latin Grammys don’t actually recognize Latin music. That award night should be called the Spanish Grammys because it predominately praises the music of Spanish artists, not Latin ones. Several artists boycotted the Latin Grammys this year because of their exclusion of reggaeton artists.
Here’s a clear way of understanding the issue: The only way you will be nominated for a Grammy is if: A) you’re an artist from Spain, B) have been in the music industry for decades, and C) have sold a substantial amount of albums, and D) all of the above.
In an ideal world, the Grammys would recognize artists that are gifted in their craft regardless of the genre or their background.
As music journalist Suzy Exposito wrote in Rolling Stone, “Things seemed to look up in 2019 when ‘I Like It,’ the Latin trap crossover hit by Cardi B, J Balvin and Bad Bunny, received the nomination for Record of the Year. But in spite of its skyrocketing revenue and growing ubiquity in anglophone pop culture — with support from bicultural Latina superstars like Cardi, Camila Cabello, and Selena Gomez — Latin music will be excluded from the most prestigious Grammys categories, which include Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year.”
So after the little progress that Latin music made last year, it looks like we’re back to square one. Click here to view the complete list of nominees.