From Selena to the Latin Explosion of the 2000s to reggaeton's prevalence today, Latin music has been a force that has gotten the attention of U.S. audiences for years. Leila Cobo, VP of Latin content and programming for Billboard, Felix Contreras, co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, and Jennifer Mota, columnist and multimedia creative, gather to talk Latin music's growth, its relationship to U.S. pop culture, how they're covering different genres, and more.
Hispanic Heritage Month: Leila Cobo, Felix Contreras & Jennifer Mota Talk Covering The Thriving Latin Music Scene
Journalists gather to talk Latin music's growth, its relationship to U.S. pop culture, how they're covering different genres and more
Universal language: Why humans need music
Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution
There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.
But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?
A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.
In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.
"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."
Photo: C Flanigan/Getty Images
Luis Fonsi To Maluma: Who Will Win Record Of The Year Latin GRAMMY?
Cast your vote. Who will voters choose for Record Of The Year at the 18th Latin GRAMMY Awards?
Including the likes of Shakira and Carlos Vives to Natalia Lafourcade, Marc Anthony, Jesse & Joy, and Alejandro Sanz, the previous Latin GRAMMY winners for Record Of The Year reads like a who's who of Latin music. This year's nominees are no different.
With Rubén Blades' sensual "La Flor De La Canela," Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee's song of the summer "Despacito," Residente's impactful "Guerra," Ricky Martin with Maluma's Vente Pa' Ca," and Jorge Drexler's "El Surco," among others, this year's class of 18th Latin GRAMMY Awards nominees for Record Of The Year is loaded.
Which song do you think will take home the Latin GRAMMY for Record Of The Year? Cast your vote below.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Haus Laboratories
WATCH: Lady Gaga And Ariana Grande Team Up For "Rain On Me"
Grande enters the "Stupid Love" singer's futuristic world as the two pop sensations dance together in an out-of-this-planet setting
"I can feel it on my skin (It's comin' down on me)/ Teardrops on my face (Water like misery)/ Let it wash away my sins (It's coming down on me)," the global pop stars sing together on the chorus. "I'd rather be dry, but at least I'm alive/ Rain on me, rain, rain."
The song is an empowering track about being comfortable with letting tears fall. Gaga revealed the many layers behind the song in an interview with Vulture, sharing that some of the inspiration for it came from her relationship with drinking. "This is about an analog of tears being the rain. And you know what it’s also a metaphor for, is the amount of drinking that I was doing to numb myself," she said. "I’d rather be dry. I’d rather not be drinking, but I haven’t died yet. I’m still alive. Rain on me."
She added that the song also went beyond that. "Okay, I’m going to keep on drinking. This song has many layers," she said.
Grande enters the "Stupid Love" singer's futuristic world in the video released Friday, May 22, with the two dancing together in an out-of-this-planet setting. The video ends with them in a strong embrace.
Gaga has shared how much the collaboration with Grande means to her and thanked Grande for "reminding me I’m strong." Before the video's release, she tweeted out a special message to the "Stuck with U" singer.
"One time I felt like I was crying so much it would never stop. Instead of fighting it, I thought bring it on, I can do hard things. @arianagrande I love you for your strength and friendship. Let’s show them what we’ve got," she tweeted.
Grande returned the love with more love, revealing what sharing a track with Gaga means to her.
"one time ..... i met a woman who knew pain the same way i did... who cried as much as i did, drank as much wine as i did, ate as much pasta as i did and who’s heart was bigger than her whole body. she immediately felt like a sister to me," she tweeted. "she then held my hand and invited me into the beautiful world of chromatica and together, we got to express how beautiful and healing it feels to mothafuckinnnn cry ! i hope this makes u all feel as uplifted as it does for us both. i love u @ladygaga , u stunning superwoman !"
Watch the full video above. Chromatica is set to be released on May 29.
Photo: Todd Plitt/Hulton Archive
Remember When? Marc Anthony's "I Need To Know" Nets Latin GRAMMY
Singer/songwriter takes home the first Latin GRAMMY ever awarded for Song Of The Year
Thanks to the crossover popularity of Latin artists such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira in the late '90s, salsa master Marc Anthony was soon to join the Latin hot flash with his first English crossover album, which was self-titled.
The result of Marc Anthony was not only his first Billboard Hot 100 Top 5 hit, "I Need To Know," but it also landed the singer his first-ever Latin GRAMMY Award, and the distinction of earning the very first Latin GRAMMY for Song Of The Year in 2000 for the Spanish version of the catchy tune, "Dímelo."
Anthony has gone on to win an additional four Latin GRAMMYs and two GRAMMY Awards. In 2016 he was honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year for his outstanding achievements as an artist and for his philanthropic work.