Why the Latin Grammys Remain America's Biggest Anti-Mexican Sham

Categories: Español Music

Thumbnail image for vicente_fernandez_tree.jpg
Chente, sad that the Latin Grammys suck so much

Over a decade ago, I wrote an op-ed piece for what was called Pacific News Service but is now New American Media bemoaning how pathetic the Latin Grammys were due to their lack of Mexican music. "The definers of Latin culture," I wrote then, "have decided that the most popular Latin music genre in the United States isn't worthy of promotion because it might lead people to believe that Latinos are poor and culturally backward, not slick and 'with it.'"

Back then, the Latin Grammys had just weathered a 2000 boycott by major Mexican music labels protesting the invisibility of canción mexicana in the event. Flash-forward 11 years later, and little has improved. Sure, scheduled to perform are Mexican recording artists like Calibre 50 (one of those groups that combine accordions with tubas that drive us traditionalists crazy but is what the kids like nowadays) with Banda Carnaval; Newport Beach's own Mariachi Sol de Mexico ( problematic in their own, Balboa Bay Club-patronizing, way) teamed up with ranchera feminist Paquita la del Barrio; and Latin alternative songstress Natalia Lafourcade no doubt performing something off her so-so album of covers from the Agustín Lara songbook. But this year's iteration--November 21 in Las Vegas, in a ceremony anticipated by only by NBC/ABC/FOX/CNN/Insert-name-of-major-American-media-network-giving-token-attention-to-Latinos Latino reporters seeking to score free tickets--proves the Latin Grammys will continue to be what it's always been: an anti-Mexican sham of a show.

First, the caveat: ANY entertainment industry awards show never gets anything right and really serves as an excuse for bigwigs to have one giant, self-celebratory circle jerk honoring the biggest sellers and most influential labels. That said, here's the Latin Grammys' dirty little secret: the vast majority of Latin music sold in the United States is Mexican regional music: banda, mariachi, ranchera, norteño, narcocorridos--all of it. It constantly counts for more than half of all Latin music sales in el Norte, per the figures of the Recording Industry of America, and is what has driven Spanish-language radio's rise across nearly all the United States. Its artists are the ones continually, easily selling out Madison Square Garden and performing in the Rose Bowl at the same time they're taking a bus to perform in tiny towns across the Midwest and South. Mexican regional's reach makes it el rey of Latin music in the United States--no contest.

Yet the Latin Grammys always insults its industry's biggest moneymaker. Case in point: the Mexi performers I mentioned earlier count as only three of the 15 scheduled performers for the evening (and if you take out Lafourcade, who's not technically of the Mexican regional genre, it's only two), accounting for a pathetic 20 percent of all performances in a country where people of Mexican descent make up more than 60 percent of the total Latino pozole pot. There are only five awards categories devoted to Mexican regional music--shit, more than five distinct musical genres exist in Mexico City alone, from sonidero to rock urbano--while seven are given to Brazil, a beautiful, sonically rich country that nevertheless sells sells as much music combined in the States as Vicente Fernández can sell in one night from a street corner in Huntington Park.

There's not a single Mexican artist this year nominated for Record of the Year or Album of the Year. And while two are nominated for Song of the Year ("Llorar," by Mario Domm featuring Jesse y Joy, whoever the hell they are; "Sólo El Amor Nos Salvará" by Alex Syntek, who we once said looked like the love child of Buddy Holly and Billy Bob Thorton), and Best New Artist (A Band of Bitches), they're dreck--and neither of them come from regional Mexican music. I'm not even going to bother looking at past nominees in these biggest of categories; any Latin music awards that never bothered to declare the late Jenni Rivera a winner EVER is about as much a Latino cultural authority as Rick Bayless.

Then we get to the viejos.

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142 comments
obedsilvaj
obedsilvaj

Great Article! This is exactly why I don't watch that ridiculous dog-and-pony show. Vicente Fernandez and Juan Gabriel are living legends and corridos live forever!

Dan Lee
Dan Lee

Great burn on Rick Bayless!

Ana Alicia Tristan
Ana Alicia Tristan

People just don't realize tht we have different types of music, maybe we should object to being called 'Latin' and cause a wave to make everyone understand that all spanish speakers don't listen or enjoy salsa or whtever Emilio and Gloria produce, Soooo not a fan. People always ask me, Don't you all listen to the same music? Oh hell no.

s1medialabs
s1medialabs

Banda, Tamborazo & narcocoridos is pinche naco music, I would be embarrassed if the Latin Grammy's had that all over the show. Almost all those bands can't even tune their instruments corectly sound like the record is warped.

kmichael1973
kmichael1973

Gustavo, who cares? Most Mexican popular music is a parody of itself. And it's boring. And songs about drugs are bad. How can you promote that? You're a good defender of the barrio.

wearehela
wearehela

Consider it a compliment. Mexican music isn't being disrespected, it's being left alone by this shameless turd of an awards show. Which just means there's a market niche en el Norte for a Mexican music awards show. Make it so Gus!

Ralph Topete
Ralph Topete

I say we get a tamborazo playing outside the LG as people are entering the event.... Tamborazo Crash!

Michael Rodriguez
Michael Rodriguez

Cleto Martinez - in order to vote and nominate for the Grammys you have to be a member of NARAS which is a group made up of ppl in the music business. I believe Mexican artist are not represented in this group. Why I don't know, BUT, the Grammys are not about Sales and ppl get that mixed up. Justin Beiber will never get a grammy until his contemporaries respect him. Simple, the ppl in the music business who vote for this don't like Mexican music. The writer is arguing that Mexican artist should be represented cuz of Sales and he totally wrong. Grammys aren't about that. The billboard and AMA's are. But other than that I don't have an opinion :)

esemrgambino
esemrgambino

I wish they had a Lowrider Oldies category. These damn Miami based networks always discriminate against Mexicans and Chicanos. Even on their "bilingual" channels like Mun2 and MTV Tres they'll use mexican iconography like lowriders, luchador masks, mexican style fonts etc. and then they'll go to some gay ass spanish language reggaeton video.

Jose Bermudez
Jose Bermudez

The Emilio Estefan awards..more like it..not the Latin Grammys. More like the Latin Miammies

Manuel Reyes
Manuel Reyes

Grammys suck any way Latin or not! It's not surprising that Mexican artists are overlooked with so many genres! Don't get me started with the reggaton wackness!

Margarita Lopez
Margarita Lopez

You have several generations that have grown up with his music....Don Chente has worked and earned his place in Spanish language music history and Mexican culture... I don't need an American award show to validate my heritage....

Larry Charles Barber Sr.
Larry Charles Barber Sr.

n e time u have sponsors of a specific ethic event , who are not of that particular ethnicity somehow shit always goes awry. it amazes me how outsiders always think they know what is best for our specific groups...smdh :(

Cleto Martinez
Cleto Martinez

Michael Erica what do y'all think and know about this?

David Jenkins
David Jenkins

It's because american music corporations own the artist and events.

Juan Espinoza
Juan Espinoza

What he said. The problem is that today's Mexican music is nothing but garbage. It used to be the staple of Latin music with artists like Los Bukis, Juan Gabriel, Antonio Aguilar and Vicente Fernandez, now, Just turn on the radio to any Mexican radio station in the US and all you hear is the vulgar crap that glorifies the drug cartels and violence in Mexico, pretty much making fame and money off the misery in Mexico.

Danny Lopez
Danny Lopez

Vicente Fernandez. Sigue siendo el rey.....

Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez

Rick Bayless isn't Latino? He knows more about the culture then a lot of gente I know, LOL

julzur8884
julzur8884

Well said. I remember at the end of the first Latin Grammys that they put a Brazilian group (Tribalistas I think) as the credits were rolling? So sad. Then Maná, Shakira and Juanes still keep winning the rock category. And there should seriously be a limit on reggeaton artists to give more variety to the performances. 

Jaime Yañez
Jaime Yañez

Did anyone even read the article? Bola de huevones!

Bea Valenzuela
Bea Valenzuela

I really don't like him. I love rancheras and I think his son has a great voice but I can't stand Chente.

Thelma Vela Marry
Thelma Vela Marry

Mayb Chente didn't deserve 1 ! Who knows ! I really dn't care about all that anyway ! Life goes on ! I could care less worry about a homeless person Or some1 that is starving ! Or all these sick ppl in the world !!!!

M Lourdes Quiñonez
M Lourdes Quiñonez

The Latin Grammy's are no different than the regular Grammy's. Can't take the serious and don't watch them. Look who's running them

Alicia Lopez
Alicia Lopez

Preach on, Gustavo! This is right on target but I must add that Juan Gabriel did get a lifetime achievement award back in 2009ish. I was there and he totally stole the show! Best show of my life! But I must say that the non-Mexicans sitting around me threw a dagger straight to my heart with all of their anti-Mexican comments once the banda came on stage.

ciscogeorge
ciscogeorge

and te olvidaste de "la persona del ano" the award given the night before. in the last 5 years  (counting this one) Juan Gabriel has been the only mexican honored, and he made sure this was noticed, screaming Viva Mexico every 3 seconds as he performed 

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

Vicente should get an award, and Rick Bayles is a good man.

Mayo Bigpoppa Echeverria
Mayo Bigpoppa Echeverria

Who cares its just vicente, who cares if he did not made it, the people still like him, or el pueblo still listens to him, I do not care if i do not make it as person of the year as long as el pueblo likes me i am grateful. i do not need to go into the white house to perform, or a grammy to tell me who i am those are meaningless material stuff. A grammy is a meaningless object. Ask a Mexican you already ask a mexican and your got an answer from a mexican. HOW U DUIN.

Juan Negrete
Juan Negrete

I don't give a fuck about Mexican Regional music couse is just trash try some heavy Metal en espanol.

saetarubia2012
saetarubia2012

Gustavo, you made the "key point" at the end of your article:  The Latin Grammys are operated by people from Miami and New York.  They will NEVER feature or focus on Mexican music, simply because "their" audience is Caribbean-centric.  Afro-Brazilian music has a significant spot due to the fact that it a crosses-over with that same audience.  For the most part, the other South American regions and genres are pretty much ignored, as well.

As you commented in some detail, Mexican music is poorly represented at Latin Grammys. Since there is purpose in trying to squeeze in another token amount of Mexican representation at that venue, I suggest that you work behind the scenes to create the Mexican Music Awards (in lieu of "Grammys").  ALL of the Mexican categories could be featured, prizes awarded, and the venue could alternate between Mexico City, San Antonio, Guadalajara, Los Angeles, Monterrey, San Diego, etc.  Since the popularity is so strong, as you note very well, I am certain sponsors would line-up without any problem.  Go for it!!!


saetarubia2012
saetarubia2012

Gustavo, you made the "key point" at the end of your article:  The Latin Grammys are operated by people from Miami and New York.  They will NEVER feature or focus on Mexican music, simply beacuse "their" audience is Caribbean-centric.  Afro-Brazilian music has a significant spot because it shares a similar audience.  For the most part, the other South American regions and genres are pretty much ignored, as well.

As you commented in some detail, Mexican music is poorly represented at Latin Grammys. Since there is purpose in trying to squeeze in another token amount of Mexican representation at that venue, I suggest that you work behind the scenes to create the Mexican Music Awards (in lieu of "Grammys").  ALL of the Mexican categories could be featured, prizes awarded, and the venue could alternate between Mexico City, San Antonio, Guadalajara, Los Angeles, Monterrey, San Diego, etc.  Since the popularity is so strong, as you note very well, I am certain sponsors would line-up without any problem.  Go for it!!!


Angeles Ramos
Angeles Ramos

From California to North Carolina; no faltan las botas y cintos piteados. Because Musica Regional Mexicana is missing I never watch it.

Art V. Cabrera
Art V. Cabrera

This assumes that other Latino music is any better, and it's not. I pretty much have the Mexican regional station on all the time in the car because the ecumenical Latino station, easy listening, Top 40, hip hop, etc. sound exactly the same to me. E.g. Pitbulll. End of Proof. At least the Mexican regional station has tubas and accordions.That's cool.

Shelly Valladolid
Shelly Valladolid

Agh, you petted my peeve! It's "...far from the MADDING crowd". Otherwise, you're completely on point. The LGs were created for Ricky Martin and the Miami Sound Machine.

Martin Herrera
Martin Herrera

Que Chente,ni que Chente.Where's Jose Alfredo Jimenez award?Ay ta el mero rey!

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