Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz dominated the fifth Latin Grammy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday in a musically diverse telecast sprinkled with edgy political commentary and several instances of language excised by CBS censors.
Sanz, who had previously won seven Latin Grammys, swept all four categories in which he was nominated, including the top three: album of the year for his critically acclaimed "No Es Lo Mismo," and record and song of the year for the title track. The evening's other winners included Brazilian newcomer Maria Rita and the late salsa queen Celia Cruz.
Some participants in the two-hour show flouted the extreme caution that's been exercised on "live" national TV since Janet Jackson's breast-baring incident in January on CBS' Super Bowl telecast.
Comedian and host George Lopez, who was widely credited with helping to boost the ratings of last year's Latin Grammy show, came onstage riding a white horse and dressed in a traditional Mexican charro suit and sombrero.
He started with a crude remark in Spanish directed at President Bush that, politely translated, essentially told the president to "Cut it out, jerk." The comment was deleted from the telecast, which used the now-customary delay of several seconds to allow questionable content to be cut. Lopez then quipped, "For those of you who don't speak Spanish, I said, 'Good luck in your future endeavors.' "
He also took a playful swipe at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his opposition to a measure that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to drive legally in California. After dismounting, he joked, "That's the way we gotta get around in Los Angeles now since Gov. Schwarzenegger took away our driver's licenses."
One member of the rap group the Black Eyed Peas also made a strident pitch urging viewers to "vote for a change."
But it was mostly a night of music.
Rita, who collected two awards, including best new artist, for her "Maria Rita" album, said backstage that she hoped the recognition would help other Brazilian performers.
"The Grammys as a ceremony and as an institution is very respected all over the world," she said. "I think this is great for Brazilian music and musicians in general."
The diversity of the music showcased during the telecast was captured in another moment backstage when Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio, in a sequined, champagne-colored gown, demurely addressed the media while rock bands Café Tacuba and Incubus were onstage performing a growling, bilingual jam that was bleeped three times for television viewers.
Rubio, who aspires to win an English crossover following and performed a rap-style number with dogs let loose on the stage, lost in the female pop vocal category to Rosario, a respected but much lesser-known singer from Spain. It was one of many upsets during the evening.
The duo of Cuban pianist Bebo Valdez and Spanish Gypsy singer Diego El Cigala, considered favorites in the album of the year category, wound up with only one Grammy in a minor category, tropical album, for their "Lagrimas Negras" collaboration. Javier Limón, the album's producer, was named producer of the year.
Sanz, who was on tour and did not attend the ceremony, also won for male pop vocal album, the only category in which he competed with such pop stars as Ricky Martin, Luis Miguel and fellow Spaniard Davíd Bisbal, last year's winner for best new artist. Sanz's album, a richly textured work that explores personal and social themes with flamenco touches, generated a Latin Grammy for engineering to the album's three engineers.
The show opened with Bisbal, winner of Spain's version of "American Idol," teaming with Top 40 princess Jessica Simpson for a bilingual duet.
Along with dozens of Latin musicians and presenters, the show looked to further broaden its audience with appearances by non-Latin actors Lindsay Lohan, Jason Ritter and Amber Tamblyn, R&B singer Tyrese and "Access Hollywood" co-host Shaun Robinson. The move was viewed by some as adventurous genre building, by others as safe network TV programming.
Julieta Venegas, former member of Mexican punk en español band Tijuana No, took the solo rock album category, a win that was considered a boost for Latin music's alternative camp.
Mexico's father-son act, Vicente and Alejandro Fernandez, won for ranchero album with "En Vivo Junto por Ultima Vez," while the San Jose-based Los Tigres del Norte took the norteño category for its "Pacto de Sangre" album, which includes a controversial song expressing outrage over killings of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Cruz, who died last year at 77, was a sentimental favorite with Latin Grammy voters and won the salsa album category with the final album of her half-century career, "Regalo del Alma." Her hit "Rie y Llora," written by producer Sergio George and Fernando Osorio, also won for best tropical song.
Guitarist Carlos Santana, named the academy's person of the year for his philanthropic efforts, joined Austin, Texas' Los Lonely Boys in a medley that included Ritchie Valens' 1950s hit "La Bamba" as a salute to Valens and other influential Latin pop musicians. Band leader Willie Colon and Mexican vocalist José José received lifetime achievement awards.
Classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma picked up his first Latin Grammy for his exploration of Brazilian music, "Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert."
After moving for the first time to Miami last year, Latin music's most celebrated event returned Wednesday to Los Angeles for the fourth time.
Awards, in 43 categories, were voted on by the 4,000 members of the Latin Recording Academy. Recordings released between April 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004, were eligible for nomination. The Latin Grammys started in 2000 as an offshoot of the Grammy Awards designed to focus more attention on a wider spectrum of Spanish-language pop music.
The Complete List of Winners
General Record of the Year: "No Es Lo Mismo," Alejandro Sanz (Lulo Pérez and Alejandro Sanz, producers; Mick Guzauski and Rafa Sardina, engineers/mixers)
Album of the Year: "No Es Lo Mismo," Alejandro Sanz (Lulo Pérez and Alejandro Sanz, producers; Mick Guzauski, Bob Ludwig, Rafa Sardina and Pepo Sherman, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer)
Song of the Year: "No Es Lo Mismo," Alejandro Sanz (Sanz, artist)
Best New Artist: Maria Rita
Female Pop Vocal Album: "De Mil Colores," Rosario
Male Pop Vocal Album: "No Es Lo Mismo," Alejandro Sanz
Pop Album by Duo or Group with Vocal: "De Viaje," Sin Bandera
Urban Urban Music Album: "En Honor A La Verdad," Vico Commentary
Rock Rock Solo Vocal Album: "Sí," Julieta Venegas
Duo or Group Album with Vocal: "Libertad," La Ley
Alternative Album: "Cuatro Caminos," Café Tacuba
Best Rock Song: "Eres," Emmanuel Del Real (Café Tacuba, artist)
* Tropical * Salsa Album: "Regalo Del Alma," Celia Cruz
Merengue Album: "Sin Desperdicio," Johnny Ventura
Comtemporary Tropical Album: "Albita Llegó," Albita
Traditional Tropical Album: "Lágrimas Negras," Bebo Valdés y Diego El Cigala
Best Tropical Song: "Ríe y Llora," Sergio George and Fernando Osorio (Celia Cruz, artist)
Singer-Songwriter Best Singer-Songwriter Album: "Soraya," Soraya
Regional Mexican Best Ranchero Album: "En Vivo Juntos Por Ultima Vez," Vicente y Alejandro Fernández
Best Banda Album: "Por Ti," Banda El Recodo de Cruz Lizárraga
Best Grupero Album: "Cuando El Corazón Se Cruza," Alicia Villarreal
Best Tejano Album: "Live En El Valle," Jimmy González y Grupo Mazz
Best Norteño Album: "Pacto De Sangre," Los Tigres Del Norte
Best Regional Mexican Song: "Tu Amor O Tu Desprecio," Marco Antonio Solís, (Solís, artist)
Traditional Best Folk Album: "K," Kepa Junkera
Best Tango Album: "Postangos En Vivo En Rosario," Gerardo Gandini
Best Flamenco Album: "Cositas Buenas," Paco De Lucía
Instrumental Best Instrumental Album: "Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert," Yo-Yo Ma
Jazz Best Latin Jazz Album: "New Conceptions," Chucho Valdés
Christian Best Christian Album (Spanish Language): "Recordando Otra Vez," Marcos Witt
Best Christian Album (Portuguese Language): "Fruto De Amor," Aline Barros
Brazilian Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album: "Carlinhos Brown Es Carlito Marrón," Carlinhos Brown
Best Brazilian Rock Album: "Cosmotron," Skank
Best Samba/Pagode Album: "Para Caymmi. De Nana, Dori e Danilo," Nana, Dori e Danilo
Best MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) Album: "Maria Rita," Maria Rita
Best Romantic Music Album: "Zezé Di Camargo & Luciano," Zezé Di Camargo & Luciano
Best Brazilian Roots/Regional Album: "No Século XXI, No Pátio Do Forró," Banda De Pífanos De Caruaru
Best Brazilian Song (Portuguese Language): "A Festa," Milton Nascimento (Maria Rita, artist)
* Classical Best Classical Album: (Tie) "Carmen Symphony," Orquestra Simfònica De Barcelona I Nacional De Catalunya and José Serebrier (Robert Suff, producer) and "Jobim Sinfônico," various artists (Mario Adnet and Paulo Jobim, producers)
Children's Best Album: "Niños Adorando 2," Niños Adorando (Coalo Zamorano, producer)
Production Best Engineered Album: "No Es Lo Mismo," Rafa Sardina (Alejandro Sanz, artist)
Producer of the Year: Javier Limón
Music Video Best Music Video: "Más y Más," Robi Draco Rosa (Angela Alvarado Rosa, director; Maryann Tanedo, producer)