Before the star even took the stage, a full orchestra played instrumental versions of several songs from X100Pre, which won Best Urban Music Album earlier in the night. Bad Bunny arrived wearing bright red, which stood out against the head-to-toe white of his musicians. He performed his recent single “Callaíta,” a collaboration with Tainy that has earned almost 500 million streams on Spotify. As Bad Bunny sang, his string players smoothed over the rugged edges of the reggaeton beat.
Bad Bunny has been a relentless hitmaker throughout 2019, appearing on a stream of popular singles: “La Romana” with El Alfa, “No Me Conoce” with Jhay Cortez and J Balvin, “Qué Pretendes,” again with Balvin, and “La Canción,” yet another collaboration with Balvin.
Bad Bunny has also taken the lead in terms of pushing Spanish-language popular music further into the American mainstream. His songs have amassed more than a billion U.S. streams in 2019, and his single “Mia” — which featured an all-Spanish turn by Drake — was played regularly on American pop radio, which typically ignores music made in Spanish. Earlier this year, Bad Bunny performed “Qué Pretendes” at the MTV VMAs, which also tends to favor English-language performers.
The star wasn’t just bringing extra eyeballs to the Latin Grammys on Thursday: He was also nominated for two awards. His win for Best Urban Music Album marked his first-ever Grammys victory.