Latin Grammys 2019: 10 Best and Worst Moments - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Latin Lists

Latin Grammys 2019: 10 Best, Worst and WTF Moments

From Ricky Martin to Lars Ulrich, highlights from the 20th annual Latin Grammy Awards

Lars Ulrich, Juanes. Lars Ulrich, of Metallica, right, presents Juanes with the award for person of the year at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las VegasTOPIX 2019 Latin Grammy Awards - Show, Las Vegas, USA - 14 Nov 2019

Lars Ulrich of Metallica, right, presents Juanes with the award for Person of the Year at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The Latin Recording Academy celebrated its 20th annual Latin Grammys on Thursday night, and with no shortage of legends past, present, and future. Even amid ongoing political tensions between the institution and disgruntled reggaetoneros — or on a graver note, between artists and their respective governments — the show must go on, and what a show it was.

Mon Laferte arrives at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards with "En Chile torturan violan y matan" written on her body, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas2019 Latin Grammy Awards - Arrivals, Las Vegas, USA - 14 Nov 2019

Mon Laferte

Eric Jamison/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Best: Chilean Artists Protest Human Rights Violations in Chile

After nearly a month of protests against Chilean president Sebastian Piñera, singer-songwriters Mon Laferte and Alex Anwandter brought the spirit of dissent to the red carpet on Thursday evening. Both nominated for Best Alternative Album, the two used the Latin Grammys as a platform to decry human rights violations committed by the Chilean military and police during the demonstrations. “Did you know that they violate human rights in Chile?” read a placard held by Anwandter. Meanwhile, Mon Laferte bared her chest, on which she wrote with black marker, “In Chile, they torture, rape and kill.” She would later win Best Alternative Album for her 2018 opus, Norma; during her acceptance speech, she read a chilling poem from an anonymous friend, dedicated to those resisting government repression. “Chile hurts me inside,” she read. “You bleed through my every vein/Every chain weighs on me/That imprisons you.”

Bad Bunny accepts the award for best urban music album for "X 100Pre" at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas2019 Latin Grammy Awards - Show, Las Vegas, USA - 14 Nov 2019

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Best: Ricky Martin, Residente, and Bad Bunny Represent Puerto Rico

Ricky Martin, Residente, and Bad Bunny joined forces for a cross-generational celebration of Puerto Rico’s musical heritage at the Latin Grammys on Thursday. Following an epic summer of Puerto Rican protest, the three stars united once more for their new collaboration “Cántalo,” which attempts a bold merger of canonical salsa, radio-friendly reggaeton and window-shaking trap. The song opened with full-throated singing from Martin, who also served as the host of this year’s Latin Grammys ceremony. A blast of horns signaled that it was time to pass the baton to Residente, who rapped with casual ferocity. The chorus reverted to full-throttle salsa before Bad Bunny bounded out of the crowd to rap his own verse, and add a necessary dose of heat to the ceremony.

Lars Ulrich, Juanes. Lars Ulrich, of Metallica, right, presents Juanes with the award for person of the year at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las VegasTOPIX 2019 Latin Grammy Awards - Show, Las Vegas, USA - 14 Nov 2019

Lars Ulrich of Metallica, right, presents Juanes with the award for Person of the Year at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

WTF: Juanes Gets Surprise From Lars Ulrich

Colombian rock-pop superstar Juanes performed several of his greatest hits at the Latin Grammys on Thursday. A longtime Latin Grammy darling, he was also honored as the Person of the Year at the ceremony.

The special segment was, however, far from business as usual. after closing out his procession of hits, Juanes was surprised by a longtime hero from the anglophone world: Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

“[I met] Juanes years ago, after performing in Mexico,” Ulrich said in English. “And I have keenly watched his music, his creativity and his radiant humanity soar across this beautiful planet. Then I learned he was a Metallica fan… Now tonight, we come full circle. I proclaim myself a Juanes fan! Mi amigo, mi parcero, I’m proud to recognize you as Person of the Year from the Latin Recording Academy!”

“I thought it was a ghost at first,” Juanes later said in the press room.

Pepe Aguilar performs a tribute to Jose Jose at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas2019 Latin Grammy Awards - Show, Las Vegas, USA - 14 Nov 2019

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Best: Pepe Aguilar Pays Respects to Mexican Balladeer, José José

Though he didn’t know it at the time, José José made one of the most unforgettable moments in Latin music with his 1970 performance of “El Triste” at Festival Mundial de la Canción Latina. It was a spine-chilling showcase that introduced El Príncipe de la Canción to the world, and one that ushered in the era of the Latin romantic crooner. On Thursday night, that memorable moment was recreated by ranchera star Pepe Aguilar — backed by a sweeping orchestra, the Mexican singer served up the tearjerking song with an impressive range and a whole lotta heart.

Aitana, Greeicy Rendon, Alejandro Sanz, Nella. Aitana, from left, Greeicy Rendon, Alejandro Sanz, and Nella perform "Mi Persona Favorita" at the 20th Latin Grammy Awards, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas2019 Latin Grammy Awards - Show, Las Vegas, USA - 14 Nov 2019

Aitana, Greeicy Rendon, Alejandro Sanz, Nella.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Best: Rising Latina Stars Fill In for Absent Winner Camila Cabello

Though Camila Cabello won two Latin Grammys Thursday night — both for “Mi Persona Favorita,” her hit with Academy favorite Alejandro Sanz — the Cuban-American singer was nowhere to be found at the ceremony. Still, Sanz performed the song sans Cabello Thursday night, and in her stead, appeared a lineup of three promising young women in Spanish-language music: Best New Artist nominees Aitana Ocaña, Greeicy Rendon and eventual winner, Nella. It proved to be a satisfying collaboration between the rising pop stars, who will undoubtedly benefit from the airtime.

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.