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The 40th Annual Grammy Nominations | Latin

The Worthy and the Expected

January 07, 1998|ERNESTO LECHNER

By establishing a new category for best Latin rock/alternative performance, the Grammy Awards are finally recognizing the invigorating contribution of rock en espan~ol. Aterciopelados, Cafe Tacuba, Molotov and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs are all worthy nominees, with albums that were as accomplished as they were experimental. Best of the lot is Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

In the realm of tropical music, which includes Afro-Caribbean rhythms such as salsa, merengue and cumbia, the nominations are mixed. It wasn't a good year for the genre, but nominating singers India and Albita--and overlooking such artists as Son 14 and Johnny Almendra--is typical of the Grammys' tendency to reward bestsellers over sheer quality. Still, the voters did manage to single out Ry Cooder's "Buena Vista Social Club," a wistful masterpiece that celebrates the uniqueness of the Latin spirit like no other recent record.

It's hard to put all the blame on the voters when it comes to the Latin pop category because the field itself is so bland. Still, the nomination of simply the five biggest sellers in the field--Julio Iglesias, his son Enrique Iglesias, Cristian, Luis Miguel and Alejandro Fernandez--is predictable and disappointing. Their albums were the work of artists more interested in preserving their stardom and mystique than breaking ground. Better choices would have been collections by Juan Gabriel, Rocio Durcal and Marco Antonio Solis.

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