Rosalía’s El Mal Querer, an impressive fusion of old-school flamenco and hyper-modern electronic production, won Album of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday night in Las Vegas. Rosalía produced the album with El Guincho, and despite minimal radio play Stateside, it has earned around 40 million streams in the U.S. this year, according to the analytics company Alpha Data.
Rosalía was competing against Sebastián Yatra, Tony Succar, Ximena Sariñana, Alejandro Sanz, Luis Fonsi, Fonseca, Andrés Calamaro, Rubén Blades and Paula Arenas. Notably absent this year were any reggaeton or trap albums released during the Latin Grammys’ eligibility period, which spanned from June 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019. Though nominees Fonsi and Yatra dabble in reggaeton, especially when they want a radio hit, they are pop singers at heart.
The lack of reggaeton nominations in the Album of the Year category was mirrored in the other general categories, Record and Song of the Year. So it’s not surprising that when the nominations were announced in September, reggaeton acts hopped on social media to voice their displeasure. “Without reggaeton, there are no Latin Grammys,” J Balvin wrote on Instagram. “There is a history that dates back many years where our genre has been denigrated,” the singer added later, in a lengthy Instagram video that has been viewed over four million times. On stage in Las Vegas, Rosalía thanked Balvin, who helped bring her to a wider audience in 2018 by including her on his Vibras album.
Rosalía’s win on Thursday puts her in the company of musical giants who have ruled Latin pop for decades: Recent Album of the Year winners include Luis Miguel, Rubén Blades, Juan Gabriel, Juan Luis Guerra, and Paco de Lucía. Album of the Year winners are also overwhelmingly male — the only other solo female artist to take home the award was Shakira in 2006.