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Calle 13 dominates Latin Grammys nominations

The Puerto Rican duo receive a record 10 nominations from the Latin Recording Academy.

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To Latin music aficionados, the key question for this year's 12th Latin Grammys wasn't whether the Puerto Rican urban/hip-hop duo Calle 13 would receive any nominations.

The question was: How many?

The answer, 10, is a record number for the Latin Recording Academy, and includes nods to Calle 13 in the principal categories of album of the year for “Entren Los Que Quieran,” a nomination they share with Edgar Abraham and Rafa Arcaute, among others, and record of the year, for their genre-crossing disc “Latinoamérica.”

The nominations were announced Wednesday at the Avalon Hollywood, with the awards to be handed out Nov. 10 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Photos: A look at the top 2011 Latin Grammy nominees

For record of the year, the other nominees besides “Latinoamérica” are “Tan Sólo Tú” by Franco De Vita with Alejandra Guzmán; “Gritar” by Luis Fonsi; “Golpes En El Corazón” by Los Tigres Del Norte; and “Lo Mejor De Mi Vida Eres Tú” by Ricky Martin featuring Natalia Jiménez.

The best new artist category draws from young artists throughout the Latin-speaking world: Pablo Alborán (Spain), Max Capote (Uruguay/Argentina), Paula Fernandes (Brazil), Il Volo (Italy) and Sie7e (Puerto Rico) will compete for the trophy.

As in previous years, the nominations balanced many familiar names such as Ricky Martin, Los Tigres, Shakira and Enrique Iglesias with lesser-known, minor-label (or label-less) talents. Among the surprises was the popular L.A. club band La Santa Cecilia receiving a nomination for best tropical song for their tune “La Negra.”

Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president and chief executive of the Latin Recording Academy, said he was impressed that some acts that “have been around for some time” — such as the Mexican neo-psychedelic rock band Zoé (nominated for best alternative album) and Merche (a nominee for best female pop vocal album) — “seem to be finally getting to be known” to wider audiences.

“I think that one of the beauties is that many of the young artists are going back to the basics,” Abaroa said in an interview. “Romantic, beautiful lyrics, very simple, acoustic. And I think they are giving so much attention to the songwriting craftsmanship that seems to have been forgotten somewhere in the mix.”

Two members of Zoé who were among the nominations' announcers, bass player Angel Mosqueda and drummer Rodrigo Guardiola, said in an interview that it's still difficult for many alternative Latin American artists to break into the pop and ranchera/norteño formats that dominate U.S. markets.

“There are way more bands in Mexico than what people listen to here on radio stations,” Guardiola said.

Calle 13's record-setting haul of nominations supplies further evidence that stepbrothers René Pérez Joglar, a.k.a. Residente, and Eduardo Jose Cabra Martinez, otherwise known as Visitante, are making music that attracts followers across Latin music's increasingly fluid genres. The group's wide-ranging approach has yielded them 10 previous Latin Grammys and two Grammy Awards.

As the duo gradually have branched out from their reggaeton roots to incorporate salsa, tango, electronica, cumbia and other styles, they have crafted a musical persona that is appealing not only to crowds in San Juan and the Caribbean, but also to listeners in places such as Mexico City and Buenos Aires, where hip-hop, reggaeton and their U.S.-influenced urban-music offspring haven't always been so welcome.

It's no accident that Colombian pop star Shakira, another artist with a hemisphere-wide fan base, enlisted Calle 13 to help produce her album “Sale El Sol,” which also was nominated for album of the year. The category's other nominees are Alex, Jorge y Lena for “Alex, Jorge y Lena”; Franco De Vita for “En Primera Fila”; and Enrique Iglesias for “Euphoria.”

RELATED: 

Latin Grammys: The complete list of nominees

The politics of Calle 13, to the beat of reggaeton

'Latin Alternative' on KCSN gives Latino music a new accent

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Residente, left, and Visitante of Calle 13. Credit: Associated Press.

 
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