This Week in Latin Music: José José Dies at 71; Grammys Get Backlash - Rolling Stone
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This Week in Latin Music: José José Dies at 71; Inside the Grammys Backlash

Plus: J.Lo and Shakira take the Super Bowl; new music by Sech, Bad Bunny, Natalia Lafourcade

Jose Jose performs at Hard Rock Live! in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on December 16, 2012 in Hollywood, Florida.Jose Jose performs at Hard Rock Live! in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on December 16, 2012 in Hollywood, Florida.

Jose Jose performs at Hard Rock Live! in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on December 16, 2012 in Hollywood, Florida.

Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images

In case you missed it, here are some highlights (and one shattering lowlight) from this week in Latin music — now with a Spotify playlist!

Mexican Pop Icon José José Dies at 71
Mexican singer-songwriter José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz, best known as José José, passed away on Saturday, at the age of 71. The inimitable pop balladeer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2017, and had been receiving treatment in Miami at the time of his death.

Nicknamed “el príncipe de la canción,” or the Prince of Song, José José was long renowned for his stirring, operatic vocal style, and a cadence that seemed perpetually on the verge of tears. After cutting his teeth as a jazz and bossa nova singer, he achieved pop stardom while representing Mexico at the 1970 international Latin Song Festival, with a historic performance of the ballad, “El Triste.” (He finished in third place — but to a standing ovation.)

He would release more memorable hits throughout the Seventies and Eighties, such as “Almohada” and “Lo Dudo.” The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, remarked on Saturday that “the best homage is to keep remembering him and listening to his songs.” José José will be posthumously inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame this October.

Latin Grammys 2019: List of Nominees Elicits Cheers and Jeers
In preparation for the 20th Annual Latin Grammys in November, the Latin Recording Academy released its list of nominees on Tuesday morning. Although Academy President/CEO Gabriel Abaroa Jr. boasted a “talented and diverse” representation of acts from across Latin America and the Iberian peninsula, the actual shortlist stated otherwise: the most nominated acts this year include two Spaniards — Alejandro Sanz and Rosalía — followed by a series of legacy acts, like Juanes, Rubén Blades and Juan Luis Guerra. Not a single urbano artist was nominated in major categories such as Record of the Year, Song of the Year, nor Album of the Year.

Nearly a year after he lost the Latin Grammy for Album of the Year — and to absentee winner Luis Miguel — J Balvin shared an Instagram post on Tuesday showing a crossed-out gramophone and the caption: “Sin reggaeton, hay no Latin Grammy.” (“Without reggaeton, there are no Latin Grammys.”) After receiving additional criticism from Daddy Yankee, Karol G and many other urban artists, the Latin Recording Academy issued a response on Wednesday: “Our doors are always open,” read the statement.

Meanwhile, Balvin’s Instagram post garnered its own criticisms. Remarking on the lack of representation for black artists in most categories, wrote the New York-based DJ Bembona, “Sin gente negra, no hay reggaeton.” (Without black people, there is no reggaeton.”

Watch Sech, Ozuna Take New York City in ‘Si Te Vas’ Video
If anybody’s having a fantastic year, it’s both Puerto Rican-Dominican star Ozuna and Panamanian singer-songwriter Sech. Ozuna made headlines after scoring not one, but four Guinness World Record Titles for his exceptionally high streaming numbers. Then 25-year-old Sech, urbano’s Rookie of the Year, got the news of a lifetime when he was nominated for three Latin Grammys. It will be his first-ever appearance at the renowned awards ceremony.

On Thursday, after one fruitful summer, both artists released their joint new single, “Si Te Vas” — a grooving, R&B-reggaeton kiss-off to a soon-to-be ex. In the Dimelo Flow and Simon-produced track, Sech flexes his powers as a wordsmith, as well as a dramatist. Ozuna’s signature high register sails coolly above Sech’s soulful croon. “I believe in love, but not in how it feels,” sings Sech in the chorus: “To say it to me is not enough/I wear a ‘Real’ sweater, but they always lie.”

Jennifer Lopez, Shakira to Perform at Halftime Show at Super Bowl LIV
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira announced on Twitter Thursday that they will be performing at the Super Bowl LIV Pepsi Halftime Show. The performance will air live from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, on February 2nd.

“Ever since I saw Diana Ross fly off into the sky at the Halftime Show, I dreamed of performing at the Super Bowl,” Lopez said in a statement. “And now it’s made even more special not only because it’s the NFL’s 100th anniversary, but also because I am performing with a fellow Latina. I can’t wait to show what us girls can do on the world’s biggest stage.”

“I’m so honored to be taking on one of the world’s biggest stages in the company of a fellow female artist to represent Latinos and Latinas from the U.S. and all over the world – and to top it off, on my birthday!” Shakira added. “This is a true American dream and we are going to bring the show of a lifetime!”

In ‘Vámono,’ Buscabulla Dream of a Bright Future in Puerto Rico
Guided by a brisk drumline snare and silky vocals from Raquel Berrios, “Vámono” is a wispy retelling of the band’s real-life journey. Although born in Puerto Rico, the New Artist You Need to Know vets had been settled in New York City for years — until Hurricane María struck the island in 2017, inspiring the couple to return home and rebuild. “Viene, vámonos/It’s late already,” Berrios sings. “As one comes, another one leaves/Miles without looking back/Fire on this tropical route.”

Farruko, Bad Bunny Make a Very Special Delivery in New ‘La Cartera’ Video
Puerto Rican stars Farruko and Bad Bunny boast the benefits of a good blunt in their latest collaboration, “La Cartera,” or “The Bag.” In their goofy new video, the two play stoners-turned-postal workers; together they cruise through a suburban neighborhood, where they hand-deliver generous bags of weed to some elderly folks and a throng of girls dancing in bikinis. “Tell all these people that for me, it’s 4/20 all year,” sings Bad Bunny, before he and Farruko embark on a magic mail truck ride.

See Maluma and J Balvin Imitate Each Other in ‘Qué Pena’ Video
Colombian reggaeton stars Maluma and J Balvin have joined forces for a new single “Qué Pena.” The upbeat track is the first collaboration for the pair, who teased the single earlier this month on Instagram. In the slick new music video, Maluma and Balvin take turns imitating each others’ Instagram personas: Maluma shouts into his phone, “This is for the culture man! Para la cultura!” Meanwhile, Balvin smooches himself in the mirror and purrs, “Maluma, baby. Mamacita.”

Natalia Lafourcade Joins Anjulie, Phyno in Bilingual Reggaeton Track, ‘Holy Water’
A longtime champion of the Mexican folk tradition, and its alternative interpretations, Natalia Lafourcade has always been at home with her acoustic guitar. But she defies all expectations in a titillating new song titled “Holy Water,” with Canadian-Guayanese chanteuse Anjulie and Nigerian MC Phyno. In English and Spanish, the three sing sweet, loverly nothings over a lilting dembow rhythm — a daring new sound for Lafourcade, who coyly sings, “Holy water, la flor de mi sexo.” It’s enough to make both new and longtime fans blush.


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