With Bad Bunny’s upcoming history-making Un Verano Sin Ti nominations and one of the most anticipated performances of the night, many Latine viewers are highly anticipating his presence at the 2023 Grammy awards–which will be held at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA, and televised by CBS on Feb. 5. How can we not be when one of the most popular and in-demand artists in the world right now will be representing our community in front of thousands of viewers this weekend?
And it’s not because we’ve never seen a Latine perform at the Grammys before. It’s because we’re finally seeing more continuous representation on the big screen. And, quite frankly, it’s about time we do. Though the Grammys have been around since 1959, one of the first Latine performances wasn’t until 1988 when Celia Cruz and Tito Puento performed the hit “Quimbara.” From there on, we saw Latinos grace the Grammy stages ever so often. For example, we saw Santana perform “Smooth” in 2000, and later Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi sang “Despacito” in 2018. Sure, the Latin Grammys have given us epic performances. However, we haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to showcasing prominent Latine talent on the gringo Grammys.
However, with Latine music significantly growing in the mainstream music market, could it be that we’ll continue to see more Latine talent on the Grammy stage? While it’s too soon to tell, here are six other memorable performances by Latine artists that have performed at the Grammys.
Ricky Martin - “The Cup of Life” (1999)
This memorable performance of “The Cup of Life” was historic due to Ricky’s major crossover success at the time. Not only was the hype track chosen for the 1998 World Cup anthem, but later it was performed at the Grammys when he was nominated for his album Vuelve. Two decades later, he performed on the Grammy stage again, this time alongside Camila Cabello, J Balvin, and Arturo Sandoval. “Twenty years ago I was extremely fortunate to perform for the first time on the show and it undoubtedly became one of the most important and defining moments of my career,” he told Billboard. “Since then, we have remained focused. Our music has evolved with the times, and there is no denying Latin music came back to the mainstream charts full force in the last two years, breaking all barriers once again. The world is listening and we are here to stay.”
Shakira - “Hips Don’t Lie” (2007)
Shakira has always been one of the most empowering Latine artists since her start–and in 2007, she had the opportunity to showcase her talent in front of the gringo Grammy audience. She performed her hit “Hips Don’t Lie” alongside Wyclef Jean. This famous collaboration is from Shakira’s Oral Fixation Vol. 2 album and is one of the five Hot 100 top 10’s she’s received to date. She started the stunning performance by showing off her distinctive and impressive vocals in a slow intro to the banger. The track then picks up the tempo as Shakira does her signature belly dance. Towards the end, she slows it down one more time to highlight her deep vibrato tone, which ultimately makes her the unique artist she is. With new music already out this year, could it be possible that we’ll see her grace the Grammy stage once again in 2024?
Pitbull - "El Taxi” (2016)
There was a point when Mr. Worldwide was constantly on both Spanish-language and English radio stations. It seemed like every other song was a remix featuring his emblematic voice that’s still recognizable today. So it’s no surprise that he’s one of the few Latines to have performed at the Grammys. This closing number ended up being one of the most buzzed-about performances of the 58th Grammy Awards. Some viewers enjoyed it, while others called it “bizarre.” But ultimately, it’s still a win for Latine representation. For context, it was called “bizarre” because Sofia Vergara joined Pitbull dressed as a taxi… Maybe that wouldn’t be our first wardrobe suggestion, but it remains one of the Grammy’s most memorable Latine performances to date. What’s more is that he also performed “Bad Man” with Travis Barker, Joe Perry, and Robin Thicke. Strange or not, Pitbull ended up winning the Grammy for best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album that year, tied with Natalia Lafourcade.
Gloria Estefan - “Don't Want To Lose You” (1990)
Gloria Estefan has graced the Grammys’ stage twice in her career. She performed a bilingual version of “Don’t Want To Lose You (Si Voy a Perderte)” in 1990, and four years later, she sang “Mi Tierra.” The minimalistic performance for “Don’t Want To Lose You” was breathtaking. She styled her hair back in a very ‘80s fashion, wearing a simple golden dress–and it’s just her, the microphone, and a live band. No background dancers, no spectacle, and no distractions. What makes this performance even more exciting for Latines is that half-way through the performance, she switches languages and sings part of the 1989 tune in Spanish. We could only imagine the thrill that Latine viewers experienced watching it on the screen. Since then, her career only soared in the crossover mainstream music industry. Fast forward to now, Gloria recently made music history–she became the first Latina to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Cardi B - “WAP” (2021)
Cardi B’s “Up” and “WAP” medley is one of the most recent and memorable performances at the Grammy awards. It’s no surprise that the popular Dominican-American rapper’s music and overall extroverted persona tends to regularly make media headlines. It was no different when she performed at the 63rd Grammy awards alongside Megan Thee Stallion in the latter track. But can you believe that her risqué medley was so memorable that the FCC reportedly received more than 1,000 complaints over the “WAP” performance? Wild, we know. The talked-about performance was too sexy and pornographic for some viewers. According to the same source, some people even said that they felt “violated” and that it “crossed the line into pornography.” Mind you, the explicit lyrics were filtered. Now, imagine if they heard the actual lyrics? Regardless of the outcome, the performance remains one of our favorites to date.
Bad Bunny - “DÁKITI” (2021)
Bad Bunny and Jhayco performed their massive hit “DÁKITI” in 2021. To put the track in numbers, the YouTube video has garnered over 1.2 billion views, and in 2021, it topped the Top Songs chart based on the MRC Data’s US 2021 Year-End Report. The song was such a success that it also made history by being the first Spanish-language song to be in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs charts at the same time. So it wasn’t a complete surprise to see the duo bring this hit to life on the Grammys stage. For the performance, the two Puerto Ricans were both dressed in futuristic metallic looks on a stage that appeared to be the popular third “eye” shape that, at the time, was part of his YHLQMDLG era. However, what made this performance so spectacular was that the performance was in Spanish and that at the end, Benito shouted out Puerto Rico, making it one of the proudest Latine moments in Grammy history.