The 2020 Grammys ‘Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album’ Category Stays Messy

Lead Photo: Rosalía and J Balvin onstage during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for MTV
Rosalía and J Balvin onstage during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for MTV
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Seasons change, the Earth further deteriorates by our hand (much to the detriment of some of the best animals in the Universe — penguins and monarch butterflies, obviously), the question of who loves aguacates more (Latinxs or Australians?) is still a big question mark… But one thing remains consistent: The Academy continues to take complex, globally respected, record-breaking, and language-defying music and put it in a corner.

This year, the categories are refreshingly more diverse and inclusive of women, many of whom are being called the future of pop. That includes Billie Eilish and possible collaborator, Spanish artist Rosalía. Yet the El Mal Querer singer is the only “Latin” artist to be nominated for one of the awards show’s major categories. Which is to say, outside of our “exclusive” (read: isolating) Latin nook.

A few of these nominations were predictable. The most-nominated artists at the Latin Grammys make appearances here once more; other absences are felt. Sech, one of the most nominated urbano artists at the Latin Grammys this year (though snubbed each and every time), was left out entirely here. In a year when Benito Antonio “Bad Bunny” Martínez Ocasio is running against himself in the category of Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album – for X100PRE and his joint album with J Balvin, Oasis – one would imagine the experimental pop star is at high odds to take home the gold-plated award. But, we’ve been here before, and we know what’s likely to happen.

Is anyone else tired?

Apparently the Academy is. Too tired to try, that is. Every year, they’re tasked with enveloping the sounds and work of over 30 countries and over two dozen genres into four categories. A challenge, undoubtedly! But perhaps the solution is to recognize that most of these categories fit into already clean-cut, catch-all genres defined for all other Americans. Or at the very least, perhaps it’s time to break up the befogging Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative category into a minimum of three others.

Until that fated day, here’s the full list of Latinx or Spanish-language nominees for the 2020 Grammys.


(Pop quiz: Define “pop.”)

  • Vida, Luis Fonsi
  • 11:11, Maluma (baby)
  • Montaner, Ricardo Montaner (obvi)
  • #ELDISCO, Alejandro Sanz (yes, it’s a hashtag and title – two birds, one stone)
  • Fantasia, Sebastian Yatra (somehow this is not fantasia)


(A very real category that includes artists who would, in all likelihood, rightfully win if separated into their own respective categories.)

  • X100PRE, Bad Bunny (por siempre)
  • Oasis, J Balvin and Bad Bunny (*plays “La Cancion”)
  • Indestructible, Flor de Toloache (reinas)
  • Almadura, iLe (otra reina)
  • El Mal Querer, Rosalía (tra tra)


(*pours a shot of tequila and toasts the air*)

  • Caminando, Joss Favela
  • Percepción, Intocable
  • Poco a Poco, La Energia Norteña
  • 20 Aniversario, Mariachi Divas De Cindy Shea
  • De Ayer Para Siempre, Mariachi Los Camperos


(What does Tropical encompass, you ask? Salsa, merengue, bachata, other Caribbean music. Fun fact: Rubén Blades holds the record for most wins in this category.)

  • Opus, Marc Anthony
  • Tiempo al Tiempo, Luis Enrique + C4 Trio
  • Candela, Vicente García
  • Literal, Juan Luis Guerra 4.40
  • A Journey Through Cuban Music, Aymée Nuviola