After months of screaming online, it seems the Recording Academy has finally heard my cries: Latin pop is some of the best, most exciting pop music out there, and “Despacito,” love it or hate it, proves that. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee collab (and Justin Bieber, I guess) is nominated for three Grammy Awards this year, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This is huge. This is historic. The last time a song that was not in English won Song of the Year was at THE FIRST EVER GRAMMYS. Yikes.
It supports my long-running theory that the space between Latin pop and regular pop is collapsing faster than anyone will really admit. When “Despacito” first came out, there was a lot of confusion about how to write about it: Was it true reggeaton? Not at all, diehard fans would quickly tell you. It’s actually pretty far from the traditional genre. Most music writers eventually settled on reggeaton-pop, an ambiguous name that works just as well as any, because it’s blowing up now. J Balvin, Ozuna, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, even Daddy Yankee (previously the butt of many “Gasolina” jokes) are doing something new now, blending trap and rap and reggeaton and pop, and they’re coming for your critically acclaimed lists. Watch out.
So if “Despacito” wins even one of the major four Grammy Awards this year, it could mean something big—because “Despacito” also won big at the Latin Grammys earlier this month (which isn’t perfect in how it awards artists either, by any means). Winning both awards could signal a big change in the way the music industry views Latin artists—and it could further open the door to Latin artists being taken more seriously as masterful architects of great pop. If Daddy Yankee can take one of the big four home, really, anything is possible.