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For Shakira, success does translate well

The bicultural and bilingual artist tops the Latin Grammy Award nominations with five, including for song, record and album.

September 27, 2006|Agustin Gurza | Times Staff Writer

Hips don't lie, Shakira famously sings, but they sure help her win accolades, as the Colombian sensation scoops up a field-leading five nominations for the seventh annual Latin Grammy Awards, announced Tuesday in New York.

The belly-dancing singer-songwriter was the only artist to be named in the song, record and album categories, for her Spanish-language CD "Fijacion Oral Vol. 1" and its reggaeton-tinged hit "La Tortura."

This marks a triumph for Shakira's bicultural and bilingual music-making strategy, crowning her the most completely adapted crossover performer in contemporary pop music. By contrast, predecessors such as singers Julio Iglesias and Ricky Martin have struggled to regain their former footing with Latin fans after crossing over to English-language music.

Shakira's double-barreled success comes at a difficult time for Latin music. Sales are down in the U.S. and Latin America, and no single trend has created the energy that typically fuels the industry. Reggaeton, the raunchy, supercharged dance music from Puerto Rico that created last year's sensation, got virtually shut out of the top categories this year.

The only reggaeton-related act to earn a top nod was controversial Puerto Rican duo Calle 13, named in the best new artist category. The team of half brothers, also nominated for urban album and short-form video, has captured acclaim for its irreverent songs, often with biting social messages.

Other artists who garnered four nominations apiece are all well established in their fields: Guatemala's socially minded singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona, Argentina's rock icon Gustavo Cerati and Mexico's pop darling Julieta Venegas.

The provocative video of Arjona's pro-immigrant single "Mojado," filmed at the U.S.-Mexico border, also was nominated in the short-form video category.

The surprise of this year, however, falls to Fonseca, a relative newcomer from Colombia who earned three nominations, including record of the year for the tropically flavored "Te Mando Flores" (I Send You Flowers), from his sophomore CD "Corazon."

In a nod to nostalgia, veteran Brazilian artist Sergio Mendes got a best record nomination for a new version of "Mas Que Nada," which appeared 40 years ago on the debut album by his crossover group Brasil 66. The new hip-hop version, featuring the Black Eyed Peas, is on Mendes' aptly titled "Timeless" CD, also nominated for album packaging.

Best package is one of three new Latin Grammy categories this year, bringing the total to 47. The other new ones are for long-form video and cumbia/vallenato, Colombia's folkloric dance genres popularized by Carlos Vives and Cabas.

This year marks a Latin Grammy first in one category, in which a famous father and his daughter are competing against each other. Acclaimed vocalist Enrique Morente and his daughter Estrella are both nominated for best flamenco album.

Since the Latin crossover wave that ushered in the first Latin Grammys in 1999, Shakira is the first artist to pursue a strategy of releasing two entirely separate albums in the same year for markets on both sides of the border. In 2005, "Fijacion" was followed by its English-language counterpart, "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2," reissued this year with the new single with Wyclef Jean, "Hips Don't Lie," which shot to No. 1 on the pop chart and remains in the Top 40.

"Fijacion" is Shakira's first Spanish-language album in seven years, proving how deeply she is rooted in her original market. It was released on the heels of her extraordinary crossover success with 2001's English-language smash "Laundry Service."

Shakira also landed nominations Tuesday for female pop vocal and short-form video for "La Tortura," featuring multi-Grammy winner Alejandro Sanz, who is also nominated as the song's co-writer.

The album, also nominated for album engineering, won a mainstream Grammy in February in the Latin rock/alternative category.

Shakira seems to defy the downturn in Latin record sales, which dropped 21% in the first half of this year, according to Billboard.

But the market blues have not dampened productivity. The number of albums submitted this year for Latin Grammy consideration jumped almost 20% to 5,000.

The entries reflect the growth of independent artists and labels, fueling a surge in membership for the Latin Recording Academy, which sponsors the international awards.

"The music is far from over," said LARAS President Gabriel Abaroa. "I'm a big believer that crisis represents change, and change is normally good because it moves things off the status quo."

For the first time, the general public will be able to buy tickets to the Nov. 2 award ceremony.

The eligibility period for recordings this year was extended to 15 months rather than the usual 12 -- from April 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006 -- academy officials said Tuesday, because the ceremony was moved from August to November as part of the show's shift from English to Spanish-language television.



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