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THE GRAMMY AWARDS | AWARDS BY GENRE : LATIN

Rock en Espanol Loses Out Again

February 22, 2001|ERNESTO LECHNER

The voters responsible for awarding Grammys in the Latin categories have always been embarrassingly out of touch with the realities of this music, but, even with that in mind, some of their choices this year are enough to make you shake your head in disbelief.

As in the past, the No. 1 victim here was rock en espanol, that most misunderstood of genres. And while choosing the unimaginative, '80s-fixated group La Ley over the clearly superior and quintessentially Latin Los Amigos Invisibles is not as pathetic as Cafe Tacuba's defeat last year by the Chris Perez Band, it is still a pretty disturbing bit of news. One can only ponder why anyone in one's right mind would decide to award a Grammy to a band best described as Chile's answer to Kajagoogoo.

The voters' lack of good taste is also apparent in the traditional tropical category, where Gloria Estefan's flashy big-band revival won over soulful and better-crafted efforts by Omara Portuondo, Cachao and Eliades Ochoa.

No complaints in the salsa and merengue contests. Then again, it could be argued that both Olga Tanon and the masterful duo of Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri had little, if any, competition.

Ditto for Shakira, who won the Latin pop Grammy in a lukewarm field. More so than in other years, the awards failed to deliver an accurate representation of the vibrant kaleidoscope of flavors and rhythms to be found these days in Latin American music.

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