Arca, Lido Pimienta & Tainy: The Welcomed Surprises of 2020’s Grammy Noms

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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The nominations for the 2020 Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday. Though Latin music wasn’t highlighted in the major categories (Song, Record, or Album of the Year), Latine artists like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and Arca were recognized in categories like Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Dance/Electronic Album respectively. In other words, the Recording Academy appears to finally see music recorded in Spanish beyond the broad “Latin” label. Let’s break down some of the surprise Latinx nominations.

Firstly, despite having one of the most commercially successful Latin albums in years, Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG was not nominated in the Album of the Year category. In the past, hits like “Despacito” and Cardi B’s “I Like It” were up for the top awards and Spanish singer Rosalía was nominated for Best New Artist. Still, the Puerto Rican superstar can take solace in his nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for the all-star collaboration “Un Día (One Day)” with Boricua hitmaker Tainy, Colombian reggaetonero J Balvin, and British singer Dua Lipa. They face off against Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and, notably, BTS, who received the first Grammy music nomination for a K-Pop act.

J Balvin and Bad Bunny perform onstage during The 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images
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Next, Venezuelan artist Arca’s Spanglish LP KiCk i was nominated in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category, and the Black Pumas, which includes Mexican-American musician Adrian Quesada, are up for Album and Record of the Year.

A few other Latine artists to shout out are Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis who got a Best Dance Recording nomination thanks to Haitian-Canadian DJ Kaytranada’s “10%” and the late Panamanian-American rapper Pop Smoke, who is up for Best Rap Performance for “Dior.” Meanwhile, Julia Michaels, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, is nominated for Song of the Year for “If the World Was Ending” with JP Saxe. Cardi B did not submit “WAP” for Grammy consideration, but that did not stop her collaborator Megan Thee Stallion from nabbing a Best New Artist nomination.

Courtesy of the artist
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This year, the overcrowded Latin album category was split into two categories: Best Latin Pop or Urban Album and Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album. In the former, Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG faces Boricua icon Ricky Martin’s Pausa EP and releases from singer-songwriters like Colombia’s Camilo, Costa Rica’s Debi Nova and Puerto Rico’s Kany García. And, even though she lost the Latin Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album to Cultura Profética, Colombian-Canadian artist Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia is now nominated for the Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album Grammy. She’s up against rising Chilean star Cami, legacy acts like Bajofondo and Fito Paéz and Cultura Profética once more.

In the Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) category, Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade is nominated for her Latin Grammy Album of the Year winner Un Canto Por México, Vol. 1. Her competition includes Christian Nodal’s AYAYAY!, Alejandro Fernández’s Hecho En México, and La Serenata by Pedro Infante’s granddaughter Lupita Infante. Up for Best Tropical Latin Album are longtime players like José “El Ruiseñor” Alberto, Edwin Bonilla, and Víctor Manuelle, who hosted this year’s Latin Grammy Awards.

The 2021 Grammy Awards will live air on Jan. 31 on CBS.