Low-key pop dominates Latin Grammy nominations with four nods each for Jesse & Joy, Fonseca and Djavan

Brother and sister duo Jesse Huerta and Joy Huerta — better known as Jesse & Joy — in West Hollywood in 2013.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

No clear leader emerged in the nominations for the 17th annual Latin Grammy Awards, announced Wednesday morning.

Mexican pop duo Jesse & Joy, Brazilian singer-songwriter Djavan and Colombian pop vocalist Fonseca took the lead, with four nominations apiece.

Coming in at three nods each were Tijuana pop-rock singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas, Argentine pop singer Diego Torres, Spanish singer Pablo Alborán and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who nabbed his place on the list with the Spanish-language version of his album “Cinema,” which pays tribute to famous film soundtracks.


As a general rule, pop continues to rule the top categories — but without the heavy superstar power of years past, when international figures such as Alejandro Sanz, Ricky Martin and Miguel Bosé each scored multiple nominations. This year’s top contenders also lean decidedly toward the traditional and the romantic — making for a decidedly restrained list.

None of this means that there isn’t some bouncy, big-name representation.

Mexican crooner Juan Gabriel in Las Vegas in 1999. The singer died late last month.
Mexican crooner Juan Gabriel in Las Vegas in 1999. The singer died late last month.
(Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times )

The late crooner Juan Gabriel received two nominations — for album of the year and traditional pop vocal album — for his 2015 duets album, “Los Dúo.” Enrique Iglesias, in the meantime, secured a pair of nods for the catchy “Duele el Corazón,” his duet with the reggaeton star Wisin, as did Colombians Shakira and Carlos Vives, for their musical collaboration, “La Bicicleta.”

Gabriel Abaroa, the president and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, said this year’s nominees represent a good mix of old and new.

“I am always happy to see [a category] like song of the year and see a song like ‘A Chama Verde’ from Brazil with ‘La Tormenta’ from Los Fabulosos Cadillas, who have been around a long time, with a newcomer like Manuel Medrano,” he says, referring to the young Colombian singer-songwriter, who received a total of three nominations.

Tijuana crooner Julieta Venegas in downtown Los Angeles in 2013.
Tijuana crooner Julieta Venegas in downtown Los Angeles in 2013.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times )

Abaroa also noted that the voting took place before Juan Gabriel died late last month, so the singer’s nominations were based entirely on his album’s merits and not a well of interest in his work following his death.

But he said it was too early to say whether the awards ceremony, to be held in November, would pay tribute to the beloved Mexican singer.

“We may do something,” he says, “we may not.”

(The Latin Recording Academy honored Juan Gabriel as person of the year during its 2009 ceremony.)

Other notable nominees include Mexican balladeer Pepe Aguilar, who received a nod for his romantic ballad “Cuestíon de Esperar,” and Mexican regional favorites Los Tigres del Norte, who earned one nomination for norteño album for their live album “Desde el Azteca.”

Buika, the raspy-voiced Spanish singer whose lung power often thrills, received a record-of-the-year nomination for her African-beats-inflected “Si Volveré,” while the lyrically-driven iLe, from Puerto Rico, earned a new artist nod.

Djavan performs at Coliseu do Porto in Portugal in 2008.
Djavan performs at Coliseu do Porto in Portugal in 2008.
(Rui M. Leal / Getty Images )

Behind the scenes, music producer Julio Reyes Copello and songwriter Ricardo López Lalinde were in the lead with four nominations each for their work on albums by Fonseca, Diego Torres and others.

The Latin Recording Academy is composed of 3,300 members in more than 34 countries. The Latin Grammy Awards will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 17.

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