Yesterday, the announcement came down divulging the artists who would be performing at this year’s Grammys ceremony at Madison Square Garden on January 28, and the list is full of Latino talent that made the year pop. 2017’s breakout star Cardi B will take the stage to perform “Finesse,” her 90s throwback collab with Bruno Mars, and “Despacito” movers (not to mention 2017 Latin Grammy faves) Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee will also have their live moment.
In some ways, this is not business as usual. The last time four Latinos performed at the Grammys was 1999, when Marc Anthony, Poncho Sanchez, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Ricky Martin took the stage in a segment dedicated to the launch of the Latin Grammy Awards in September of 2000. It makes sense, given that 1999 was the year that broke industry staples like J.Lo, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, and more.
Then, in 2005, a total of nine Latino artists performed in a medley that featured J.Lo, Marc Anthony, Los Lonely Boys, and Fergie and Jaime Gomez of the Black Eyed Peas.
But 2018’s list of performers is also far from a symbolic gesture towards equality on the part of the awards show; it’s actually fairly tit-for-tat programming when one considers the Anglo music industry’s renewed attention to Latino artists in 2017.
In October, the Recording Industry Association of America reported that the Latin music market in the U.S. was up 44 percent relative to sales and streams in 2016 (streams being the key word here — 82 percent of this revenue came from platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.) “Despacito” led the pack in breaking consumer records with impunity, becoming the most-streamed video on YouTube ever. But there’s still a long way to go in terms of representation; Latinos comprise 18 percent of the U.S. population, and Latino genres hover around 2.9 percent of the U.S. music industry.
Last year, Mars was one of the only Latinos to perform at the ceremony, and he killed it two times, first with his single “That’s What I Like,” then pulling out the guitar to slay Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” in the star-studded tribute to the then-recently deceased performer. Mars’ return in 2018 puts him alongside Gloria Estefan, who doubled up in 1990 and 1994, delivering “Don’t Want To Lose You/Si Voy a Perderte” and “Mi Tierra” to Grammy viewers.
The Grammys air on Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS.