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This Week in Latin Music: How the VMAs won Latinos; Bad Bunny on WhatsApp

Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and Shakira take up space at the VMAS.
(Photo Illustration by Diana Ramirez / De Los; Kevin Mazur, Alberto E. Rodriguez, Frazer Harrison /Getty Images, Atlantic Records)
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Welcome to “This Week in Latin Music,” a collection of hot, fiery hot and diablo takes on the week that was in our special corner of the musical landscape.

Beyond Shakira: how the VMAS did Latinos right this year

Let’s get this straight: Shakira is an international treasure.

In a night that featured performances from Karol G, Peso Pluma and Cardi B, Shakira was the biggest star at the 2023 MTV VMAs.

Sept. 13, 2023

As the latest recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award — the second Latina to receive one, after her Super Bowl co-star J.Lo — the Colombian pop icon earned the coveted Moon Person on Tuesday night after more than three decades of unwavering excellence in the global music industry. Featuring belly dances with knives and an epic crowd-surf, Shakira’s performance flaunted her expansive musical range, from rock to reggaetón — and demonstrated how she helped pave the way for Latinos of all stripes to express the full gamut of their talents.

Despite being woefully writer-less due to the ongoing labor standoff with studios, the 2023 VMAs surpassed previous music awards shows in its vast representation of Latinos in music. This year’s show not only captioned and translated its Spanish language moments correctly — we are judging you in non-English, Grammys — but it showcased a broad spectrum of music from all over Latin America and its diaspora.

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Having recently become the woman with the most entries on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, Colombian superstar Karol G performed a smoldering excerpt from her sold-out “Mañana Será Bonito” stadium show. Another breaker of records, Peso Pluma, became the first regional Mexican act to take the stage at any VMAs in history.

MTV Video Music Awards takeaways — from Taylor Swift fangirling ‘NSYNC to Olivia Rodrigo’s set collapse and P. Diddy’s family affair.

Sept. 13, 2023

With support from righteous hottie Megan Thee Stallion, hip-hop’s reigning Dominican Trinidadian queen Cardi B regaled audiences with a bombastic, conga-fueled performance of their new joint single, “Bongos.” Bronx rapper Ice Spice, who is Dominican from her mother’s side, also received the honors of best new artist this year.

Upon winning the first Video Music Award for Afrobeats, Selena Gomez respectfully ceded the microphone to Nigerian singer-MC Rema, with whom she collaborated on their unprecedented hit, “Calm Down.” And while Brazilian pop ambassador Anitta introduced MTV’s core audience to funk carioca, those of us at De Los were introduced to Stephen Sanchez, the California-born country star making waves in Nashville.

Pop-gone-punk singer Demi Lovato regaled audiences (mostly, Taylor Swift) with edgy revamps of their Top 40 hits. Meanwhile, hard rock sister act The Warning flew in from Monterrey, Mexico, to shred at Tuesday night’s show — over eight years since they made headlines for a viral cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” (The trio will join Guns N’ Roses this Friday in Hollywood, Fla.)

Bad Bunny denies new album rumors, goes to the dentist on WhatsApp

Calling all Titis with WhatsApp addictions: Bad Bunny launched his own WhatsApp group chat on Thursday, to promote Meta’s new Channels feature on the platform.

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In a Vanity Fair cover story, Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio talks about his relationship with fans and what he really felt about the Grammy’s ‘Non-English’ fiasco.

Sept. 12, 2023

The Boricua superstar may be the only person allowed to speak in his channel — which now has a wait list to join — but within its first few hours, he spilled enough tea to keep fans engrossed. Broadcasting live from the dentist, he posted a selfie and dismissed rumors surrounding an alleged new album. “Someone tell me where I say that I’ll release an album this year,” he wrote. “Nowhere do I say that.”

These rumors circulated after Bad Bunny appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair’s October issue. Journalist Michelle Ruíz met up with Bad Bunny under the pretense of discussing his album, which she said was tentatively slated for fall. Bad Bunny told Vanity Fair: “I am playing around and enjoying myself, letting go. I’m being inspired a lot by the music of the ’70s” — across genres, in both Spanish and English — “but I’m not sure if this is going to shape my music, generally or just one song. It’s impossible that the album that comes after “Un Verano Sin Ti” will sound like it — never, ever. I am always going to look for a way to do something new.”

🚨 New music alert 🚨

Becky G, “Querido Abuelo.” In her latest single, “Querido Abuelo,” Inglewood pop princess Becky G pays tribute to her late grandfather, who tragically passed away in 2021. Featuring footage of a younger Becky serenading her abuelo with a Vicente Fernandez ballad, the new video teases her upcoming regional Mexican album, “Esquinas,” due Sept. 28. This week Becky kicked off her headlining “Mi Casa, Tu Casa” tour on Thursday night in Boston; her Los Angeles stops are Oct. 7, 12 and 15 at the Novo.

Yadám, “Loco.” Venezuelan singer-songwriter Yadám had only lived in Paris for three weeks before competing in the French talent competition “Nouvelle Star” — and though he finished in second place, he remains a fan favorite. This week sees the release of his debut album, “Belamor,” a pocketful of intimate electro-pop gems from a queer Latino in exile.

Bratty, “Ya No Es Lo Mismo.” For fans of Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy: Mexican indie darling Bratty serves soft-rock heartbreak in this fresh cut off her upcoming album, “TR3S,” set for release Nov. 3. Get moody with it!

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