Mexican singer Carla Morrison opened the performance — just as she opens Vibras — crooning the title track. On the album, her vocals serve as a perfect segue into the insta-classic “Mi Gente.” But in Las Vegas, Balvin turned instead to a different track, the smooth, bouncy “Ambiente.” The singer wore an iridescent sweatsuit and sauntered across a stage covered with similar material.
Balvin earned eight Latin Grammy nominations, more than any other artist this year. That’s surely part of why younger artists were referencing him as an inspiration throughout the night. Bad Bunny singled out Balvin as the artist he was excited to watch perform during a red carpet interview. And when Karol G won Best New Artist, she also mentioned Balvin as an artist whose career she hoped to emulate.
This year is notable for Balvin: In the past, his nominations were entirely restricted to the categories for urban music. However, in 2018, the singer is finally competing in the major general categories. His Vibras LP was nominated for Album of the Year, though before he performed, he lost to Luis Miguel. In the Record of the Year category, Balvin is even competing with himself: He’s nominated both for “Mi Gente” and the slippery single “X” with Nicky Jam.
That’s on top of all his nods for urban music. Remarkably, he has three different tracks in the running for Best Urban Song and another for Best Urban Fusion/Performance. In addition, Vibras won Best Urban Album honors. Balvin has already won in these categories. He took home Best Urban Song for “Ay Vamos” in 2015 and Best Urban Music Album for Energía the following year.