Fonseca, the Mexican Jesse & Joy and the Brazilian Djavan led with four mentions each nominations of the 17th edition of the Latin Grammys, unveiled by the Latin Recording Academy.
Representing many countries and few superstars or big hits, nominees for the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards are an eclectic, if totally recognizable, group, made up mostly of names that have made many rounds in these awards.
Leading the way, with four nods each, are Colombian star Fonseca -- nominated for two albums: Conexión, up for album of the year, and Homenaje (A La Musica De Diomedes Díaz), up for Best cumbia/vallenato album -- along with Mexican duo Jesse & Joy, Brazilian singer/songwriter Djavan, sound engineer Ricardo López Lalinde and producer/engineer Julio Reyes Copello (the last two for their work with Fonseca, Andrés Cepeda and Diego Torres).
Artists with three nods each include Spaniard and Latin Grammy darling Pablo Alborán, Argentine alt/folk/rocker Kevin Johansen, Colombian newcomer Manuel Medrano and Argentine singer/songwriter Diego Torres.
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Perhaps the biggest surprise in the nominations was the absence of one dominating name, trend or hit. The only big smash hits present in the main categories, for example, are Enrique Iglesias and Wisin's "Duele el Corazon" and Carlos Vives and Shakira's "La Bicicleta," both up for record and song of the year. The only artist who managed to snag the triple crown -- album, song and record of the year -- is Jesse & Joy, with the album Un Besito Más and the song "Ecos de Amor."
The great variety of nominees could be for many reasons, Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president/CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, tells Billboard. "Many artists have changed their release strategy. Where they once released albums every year, now they're releasing every two years or 18 months, and that may have opened up the space for other artists previously recognized by the Academy who are now returning, like Andres Cepeda, Carla Morrison or Bebe."
This, too, was the year with the most inscriptions ever to the Latin Grammys: 10,500, up from 9,000 the year before. And it was also the first year the Latin Academy allowed online voting, which in turn increased the number of voters as well.
Diving deeper into the 48 categories, we find an exciting best new artist field that includes Colombia's Medrano, a tall singer/songwriter with a singular, deep voice; Ile, sister to Calle 13's Eduardo Cabra; Chilean alt chanteuse Mon Laferte; and Colombian folk/pop band Morat, who've recorded with Paulina Rubio.
The urban realm, which has so dominated U.S. Latin radio, was full of surprises, with a woman, Dominican/Spanish rapper Arianna Puello, making a surprise appearance seemingly out of nowhere in the best urban music album (where she'll duke it our with J Balvin and Farruko) and best urban song categories. Balvin is not up for more awards; Nicky Jam is up for no awards for his hit "Hasta el Amanecer" and neither is Maluma. Two other urban stalwarts, Wisin and Yandel, are up for two awards each: Wisin alongside Iglesias, and Yandel for his track "Encantadora."
The most confounding category may be best short form music video, which goes against any notion of rewarding popularity.
Here, all the nominees have fewer than 150,000 views on YouTube, except for Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas "Gallo Negro" with 405,000. The video for "Verte Ya" by Gustavo Casas y Los Que Buscan has just 11,000 views.
In a twist, the best ranchera album category was eliminated for lack of entries. But the best norteño music album is solid and contested, with fine newcomer Joss Favela up against excellent albums by ever-present (and in this case deserving) veterans Intocable and Los Tigres del Norte.
For the first time, the Latin Recording Academy offered digital voting to its membership of creators across all disciplines of music recording artists, songwriters, producers and engineers. Following Wednesday's (Sept. 21) announcement, the final round of voting for the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards opens Sept. 27 and closes Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. PT.