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Here are the 24th Latin Grammy nominees

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UN X100TO")

GRUPO FRONTERA AND BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The nominations for the 24th annual Latin Grammys were announced this morning. And if you ask our resident Latin music experts, what's notable about the nominations is what's missing, namely much love for Mexican regional music and musicians. The genre has been experiencing a wave of unprecedented popularity, but recognition from the Latin Recording Academy seems to be lagging behind. Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre are co-hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast. Welcome back, y'all.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Hey, Juana.

ANAMARIA SAYRE, BYLINE: Thanks for having us.

SUMMERS: Thanks for being here. All right. Let's start out with the good news. Mexican regional music didn't get completely locked out. What are we listening to right now?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UN X100TO")

GRUPO FRONTERA AND BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: OK. So this is a Grupo Frontera-Bad Bunny collaboration called "Un x100to," one of the biggest hits of the year and written by songwriter Edgar Barrera. Now, he is maybe the biggest songwriter we had this year in the Latin space. He wrote a ton of the regional songs that topped the charts this year, which made a massive impact. But he also wrote across the genre for artists like Manuel Turizo, Karol G - names you'd never really associate with this music. Now, "Un x100to" and another huge hit, "Ella Baila Sola," were both nominated for song of the year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ELLA BAILA SOLA")

ESLABON ARMADO AND PESO PLUMA: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: But that's about where the recognition for regional Mexican music stops. The Academy has always lightly acknowledged regional Mexican music, relegating it to its own separate categories, arguably something that has echoed throughout the way the Latin music industry has generally talked about this style of music. But this year the dominance and importance of the genre of regional Mexican for both Latin music and Latinos at large is undeniable.

CONTRERAS: These songs dominated the Billboard Top 200 charts this year and took regional Mexican to places around the world we've never seen before. In fact, our colleague Eyder Peralta even heard it in Havana last week.

SUMMERS: Wow.

CONTRERAS: You know, it's essential that the Grammys would finally acknowledge the genre in a big way. But besides the song of the year nominations for "Ella Baila Sola" and "Un x100to," they pretty much kept these artists relegated to their own specific categories.

SUMMERS: I mean, I feel like the three of us have talked a couple of times about how big this genre's success has been for Latin music. So why do you all think it is that the Latin Grammys didn't do more to acknowledge it?

SAYRE: I mean, you know, I think we did all have higher hopes. But I have to say the Academy has generally always had a problem giving space to and celebrating music that seems to really resonate with people. But that - I hate to say I don't know if they see it as sophisticated enough. We have to point out that both the Latin Grammys and the Grammy academies are both made up of professionals from the industry - artists, producers, many behind-the-scenes professionals. Some say both academies are notoriously out of touch with the fans. Go back to the earliest days of hip-hop and how long it took for those artists to become part of the mainstream.

Reggaeton had the same issue in the early 2000s and, in fact, is still mostly on the outside looking in. What regional Mexican and reggaeton have in common - they both come from marginalized communities. They represent themes and issues that impact everyday people in Latin America that the Academy maybe isn't quite ready to see promoted while trying to simultaneously legitimize the value of Latin music as a whole. As you can tell, it's all pretty tricky.

SUMMERS: Yeah. I mean, have the academies responded to this sort of criticism?

CONTRERAS: The academy is like this big, giant ship, right? And they can't exactly pivot like a speedboat, and I think that there have been efforts to try to meet these kind of changes. But what's great about both the Grammy and Latin Grammy academies is that while they can sometimes overemphasize the poppiest of pop at the expense of art, eventually they catch up, and they readjust. An example is 2011, when the Grammy Academy eliminated the Latin jazz category. There was so much pushback that a year later, it was back. And in particular, current members of both academies are extra sensitive to being as inclusive as possible. That's coming from conversations I've had with members from both academies, so they're making an effort. They are making an effort, I think.

SUMMERS: OK. I've got one more question about the awards themselves. The Latin Grammys have been taking place in Las Vegas for more than 20 years but this year in Seville, Spain. What's going on there?

CONTRERAS: OK, that's a particularly interesting question, and it's something we're going to dig into later in the podcast. But one of the things that it touches on is the idea of representation within Latin music. There's been some pushback lately about some of the artists from Spain coming in on the Latin music area or even just Latin in general. You know, this goes back to, you know, the colonial days, right? There's some people who are pushing back on that. So it's an interesting turn of events that they're actually happening in Spain after so much time in Las Vegas. And we'll have something on the podcast before the Latin Grammys happen in November.

SUMMERS: NPR's Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre, co-hosts of Alt.Latino. Thank you guys so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

SAYRE: Thank you.

SUMMERS: The 24th annual Latin Grammys will take place on November 16 and will air on the Univision television network. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.
Anamaria Artemisa Sayre
Anamaria Sayre is a multimedia producer for NPR Music with a focus on elevating Latinx stories and music. She's the producer for Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture, and the curator of Latin artists at the Tiny Desk.