On February 5th, Bad Bunny opened the 65th annual Grammys with a performance that emitted Latin pride throughout the arena. An appropriate start to the night that would lead to the artist winning his third Grammy Award for Best Música Urbana Album for his highly acclaimed album, Un Verano Sin Ti. The album was also the first ever Spanish-language album to be nominated for the Album of the Year Award in the Grammy’s 65-year history. The Puerto Rican global superstar, dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt paired with a baseball cap has always remained true to his Puerto Rican roots, never missing an opportunity to show the world a piece of Latin culture. This time, Bad Bunny brought music that spanned throughout Puerto Rico and the Caribbean as sounds of mambo, reggaeton, and merengue hit the stage.
The 28-year-old artist chose to perform a medley from his album, Un Verano Sin Ti kicking off the performance with the song, “El Apagón.” Throughout the performance, Bad Bunny was certainly not alone as eight plena (a music genre from Puerto Rico) and seven pleneros followed Bad Bunny as he paraded down the center of the arena. Eight paper mache-headed dancers known as cabezudos also accompanied Bad Bunny as they paid homage to Puerto Rican legends like Tego Calderón, Andy Montañez, Julia de Burgos, Roberto Clemente, and Tite Curet Alonso.
After “El Apagón”, the curtains on stage rose to show a full merengue band with musicians from the Dominican Republic alongside their lead frontman, musical artist Dahian el Apechao. The stage erupted into a frenzy of about 40 merengue dancers as the backdrop transitioned into sunsets and palm trees. A perfect introduction to the hit song “Después de la Playa.” The parade of dancers marched down the arena causing the crowd of celebrities to join in on the celebration including Taylor Swift in a now viral moment.
Bad Bunny’s inclusion of Latin culture in his opening act gave Latinxs everywhere an immense amount of pride as they saw themselves in his performance on a platform as huge as the Grammys. The artist’s win later that night was another win for la comunidad everywhere as Bad Bunny has proved to everyone that you can accomplish anything without changing who you are. While accepting his award he delivered a speech dedicating the award to Puerto Rico:
“Gracias! I made this album with love and passion, nothing else,” he said. “When you do things with love and passion, everything is easier. Life is easier. Thank you to everyone who listens to my music. Gracias a todos los Latinos. Thanks to all the artists who worked on this album, and to the producers. I want to dedicate this award to Puerto Rico, the capital of reggaeton. I want to dedicate it to the legends and not only the legends, but also to new artists who keep this movement alive and keep refreshing it. To all the talents, let’s keep taking this genre to new levels. I love you all.”
Although there was a great amount of celebration and love surrounding Bad Bunny yesterday night, many fans were upset when Bad Bunny lost the Album of the Year Award to Harry Styles. Fans felt like it was a lost opportunity for Bad Bunny to make history and then to lose to a white artist whose album they felt didn’t receive the same acclaim or break records as Un Verano Sin Ti.
Fans were also in an uproar at the Grammys for not having bilingual closed captions at the event to translate Bad Bunny’s speech which he delivered in both Spanish and English. The closed captions read, “Speaking Non-English” during both Bad Bunny’s speech and “Singing Non-English” during his performance. Twitter users erupted in an angry surge of tweets calling out Grammy organizers and CBS for their lack of bilingual closed captions for their deaf audience calling the act racist and ignorant. Twitter users also felt like this was a lack of respect for the Puerto Rican artist whose his performance did not include closed captions. It’s one thing not to have captions for his speech, but they knew he was set to perform and could’ve prepared for that.
Despite the problematic actions of the Grammys, they didn’t outshine Bad Bunny’s success for the night and the impact he’s had. He is unapologetically himself, proudly Latino and Puerto Rican, and a global superstar who continues to make history and break records. No award could match the milestones he’s achieved and the visibility he has as a reggaetonero proudly from PR who has earned worldwide success.