Natalia Lafourcade On 'Un Canto Por México, Vol. II,' Music As Activism & Uniting Women Through "La Llorona"

Natalia Lafourcade 

Photo: María Fernanda De la Torre Portillo


Natalia Lafourcade On 'Un Canto Por México, Vol. II,' Music As Activism & Uniting Women Through "La Llorona"

Natalia Lafourcade embarked on a mission to save a cultural center after an earthquake in Mexico through her project 'Un Canto Por México,' but ended up creating something even greater

GRAMMYs/Jun 4, 2021 - 10:42 pm

With Un Canto Por México, Vol. II, Natalia Lafourcade’s latest album released on May 28, the Mexican singer/songwriter closes her two-part project raising money to repair a musical cultural center preserving Afro-Mexican folk music known as son jarocho in her home state of Veracruz, Mexico. A powerful earthquake badly damaged the center in 2017. 

The undertaking began with Vol. I, an album honoring Mexican folk sounds—son jaracho included—and modernizing some of the country’s most well-known ranchera songs like "Cucurrucucú Paloma," first sung by the late beloved Lola Beltran and featured in Pedro Almodóvar's 2002 Spanish film Talk To Her. (Unsurprisingly, the album went on to earn her several Latin GRAMMYs, including Album Of The Year, and a 2021 GRAMMY for Best Regional Mexican Music Album.) But while Vol. ll mimics the same thematic approach, it is apparent that at the end of the project, something greater flourished.

While meaningful collaborations like the one with Pepe Aguilar, one of today’s most recognizable ranchera singers, on "Cien Años," an unrequited love song made popular by the late great Pedro Infante, are at the heart of the project, the alt-pop singer, who has delved deep into Mexico’s folk music on her last few projects, also makes room for social change. On “Nada Es Verdad” featuring son jarocho group Los Cojolites, you hear Lafourcade embrace activism as she calls for the end of the violence that has plagued Mexico for years.

"Maybe I wouldn't have seen it a few years ago, but today I realize that music has such a brutal capacity to impact," she tells about using her voice for change.

Then there’s "La Llorona," one of Mexico’s most haunting folk songs serenading Mexico’s weeping woman, which happens to be her most-requested song outside of Mexico. The deeply melancholic song, she shares, connects women through a sobering note. The track's inclusion on the album feels especially meaningful now as femicide across Latin American countries receives more attention: "I feel that La Llorona is the voice of women's pain, it is the pain that comes from the womb, from the depths of being."

At a larger scope, the album grew to be a communal project encompassing both the beauty and pain that coexist in Mexico’s fraught reality, something that came as a surprise to her. "Un Canto Por México is a musical piece that is encapsulating the collective voice," Lafourcade explains. "I didn't think of it that way when I started doing this project."

Lafourcade recently spoke with on how the project impacted her, becoming more conscious of the messaging behind music and how women are uniting to face dark times.

This interview was conducted in Spanish and translated to English; it has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Un Canto Por México, Vol. I was a fundraiser for the Centro de Documentación del Son Jarocho en Veracruz. How’s it looking now?

It’s going, it has foundations, it has walls, it has columns. Our center is still missing, but it is in the works and is looking beautiful.

Now we have Un Canto Por México, Vol. II. How was it working on this album?

The same as the first, in part, because we actually made 80 percent of the album in Mexico when we recorded Vol. 1, but when choosing the songs we gave priority to Vol. 1 and then Vol. II stayed a little dormant until we said, "Okay, let's finish Vol. II."

The rest of the album, which was about 20 percent that we had pending, was really very interesting to finish. We practically finished it at a distance from our homes. Our possibilities, the wonderful technology that exists today allows us to plan videos from a distance, plan recordings, make mixes. Incredible really, it was a learning experience. That's how it went down, that's how we finished the album. We are very happy, very proud.

COVID-19, as you mentioned, changed a lot of things. Did you ever think, "We have to put a pause on this album?"

Yes, of course, we paused, not just the album, we paused the whole project. We paused the construction of it, the album, the album release … When we released the first volume we were already in lockdown, and from there it was like, "What do we do? Do we let it out? Do we not let it out?" We decided to release that first volume, obviously also with the intention of bringing people a lot of happiness, of being able to bring music that could take them out of this uncertainty and give them moments of great joy.

Now with this volume, it was the same; we did a bit of waiting. The hope always with this volume was to be able to finish the construction of the center [in Veracruz], but that has also been something that we have learned, with this pandemic, that we have no control of saying, "This will happen on that date" because there are other factors that can alter what we want to do.

It also became like, "Well, since we don't know when we are going to actually finish the [center] physically, we are going to finish the album and in due course we are going to celebrate the album and then we are going to celebrate that we finished the center for sure." That is what we are already doing.

How has that loss of control affected you? Because we have a lot out of our control now, do you get anxious?

I have felt everything to be honest. I have had moments of great peace here in my house. I personally had a need for years to stop touring. I was very happy playing on stage and the stage is my home. I like to say that my house is here and the stage is my house, too. It is like water for me, it’s necessary. However, to do it involved being away from my home, from my other home, being away from my family and being away and traveling a lot. It was something I needed, my soul needed not to travel. I got ready to stop, I had intentions to stop until 2023, I don't know if that will happen or not, but then all this came. We really don't know when we are going to perform the album live.

I had moments of everything, I had moments of not knowing what to do in my own house because I had never been in my house, it was like, "Well, what now? What are these rooms and what do I do in them?" That little by little was transformed into, "Wow, I love being at home, I don't want to leave," of procuring my spaces, my candles, my incense, my favorite corners of the house. The truth is, it has been very nice. Then at the same time I went from really being on vacation, kind of being able to rest, to being totally booked. Right now, I'm totally busy, I don't have time to watch any series, I don't have time to read. Really from the moment I get up, all the time we are working on things for Un Canto Por México. It is impressive, it is like the times have changed the industry and we have been working a lot, but we are happy, I am very happy.

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The concept of the two albums brings you together with other great singers. It has themes of love, themes that make us think about society, among other things. Did this change you in any way personally?

Totally. Collaborating always affects what you are doing. It can inspire you so much that it can alter the way you are creating. It’s not about copying, it’s about being inspired by what others do, it is that thing to absorb, that art that moves you and that takes you out a bit of what you would have done or what you had in mind that was being done.

That is the case, for example, with Mare Advertencia. When I saw what Mare is doing, the work she is doing with her community, the way she relates to words, to the power of the word, it was very moving and very inspiring for me. I see her as a total warrior and a teacher in that aspect, seeing how she has released her project being this way. That's why I invited her on Un Canto Por México because I wanted that, when it came to having Rubén Blades’ voice and being able to think that a rapper like Mare could be there too [on "Tú Sí Sabes Quereme"], that seemed very cool to me.

We invited Silvana Estrada. She is another beautiful fellow friend who already has her niche, she has her space, she has her followers and listening to her is like, "What a wonder what this woman does." The same thing happens with everyone. I really think all the guests that I have, I admire them all, I love them, they are friends, they are people who have been there in some way for me. Jorge Drexler and I have seen each other’s [path] for many years and we love each other very much. Leonel García [composed] "Hasta la Raíz." We have been there for each other ... Meme, Mon Laferte who is a great friend, I admire her deeply. Anyway, it really is very nice to be able to collaborate and it is very nice to be able to share those spaces [with them.]

More: The Many Faces Of "La Llorona"

I noticed there are two versions of "La Llorona" on the album. Why?

There really just is the "La Llorona" acoustic version—it is the version I did during the international tours. It became a song that I did not sing in Mexico, but that I sang outside of Mexico for the people of Mexico who were outside of Mexico. It became that hymn requested by the people, it became the song that people said, "Please, ‘La Llorona,’" they yelled at me to sing it. It was that moment, we could sing together and, for them, to connect with Mexico and with their longing from a distance.

"La Llorona" is that kind of song that really confronted me when it came to singing it, interpreting it. It's one of those songs that has so much spirit, so much strength, so much mystique that the songs don't allow you to sing them overnight. Actually, interpreting them implies opening, it implies going deep, it implies going within and allowing that energy to come to the surface. It is very confrontational.

I feel that, as a singer, as a performer, I needed to get closer to this type of song and this type of music to explore other ways of singing, of interpreting the music that I make. I owe a lot to songs like these. I didn't want the acoustic version to be forgotten because it became an important song that connects me with my audience internationally. Later, I returned to Mexico and I wanted to sing it there too, but it had an extra meaning outside of Mexico. That's why I wanted to leave it as a solo with my guitar. Later, in the version I did with Ely Guerra and Silvana Estrada, its tinge is much more of women interpreting and chanting it together.

Was it on purpose that you sang it with only women?

Yes, of course, totally, because we based it on something that happened very beautifully with Ángela Aguilar and Aida Cuevas at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony.

It’s one of the most popular performance videos.


Yeah, a lot of people have watched it.

Of course, it was a beautiful moment. The inspiration really came from there. Angela couldn't sing because she had scheduling and timing issues, but we said, "Well, we're going to do it with two powerful women. We're going to think of a woman who has been a pioneer in some way."

I had already collaborated with Julieta Venegas at the time but had not had Ely Guerra on any of my albums. She is another friend that I love, another artist that I admire and who came before many of us. It was also nice for me to have her and to have Silvana, as a representation of different generations of women. That also made it interesting for me, representing different generations in a song that will continue to be ours throughout life, through history.

"I feel that La Llorona is the voice of women's pain, the pain that comes from the womb, from the depths of being."

We’re talking about La Llorona’s symbolism in the world. In Chicana literature, she represents a woman archetype. What does she mean to you?

For me, she’s that mystique, that mystery, that force, that existing femininity, not only at the physical level. For me she’s like the force of the earth, the force of nature, the force of Pachamama. I feel that La Llorona is the voice of women's pain, the pain that comes from the womb, from the depths of being. The pain of love, the pain of loss, the pain of death, the pain of violence, pain in general. It is that song that manages to inhabit, not only that feeling that can be so collective among women, but the one that exists in the universe that is earth, in nature, at night, on the moon; I feel that in all that mystery is La Llorona.

Hearing you say that makes me think a lot about what’s happening in Mexico in cities like Juárez, also in Puerto Rico, with all the violence against women. It makes me think that songs like these unite us as women. What do you think about that?

Totally. They are necessary because they are also important—that’s one thing that I love about music, it has this ability to bare emotions. That is really nice because when you can really see the emotion, when you can connect with it, whether it's happiness—because music can make us very happy, it can make us dance—but it can also connect us with pain, what hurts, with its weight. [With music] we can see it and we can sing to it. And while we sing, we cry. Everything is a cleanse.

Of course, songs like "La Llorona" connect us women. I especially feel that at this moment, all women are waking up to something that we had to turn around and see. We had to turn around and see each other, we had to allow the moment to happen with precisely these issues that hurt, heavy issues, issues that hide [beneath], those issues that can live in the closet for years and that we could even die and they never come out.

That is ending now and that makes us meditate and makes us reflect on the importance of mutuality between women, how we strengthen each other and push ourselves out of that pain, out of the boxes, out of the drawers. We're letting it out, those topics that were not discussed for so long have come out, we've put them on the table. To say, "Enough, this is not going to happen anymore. What do we have to do so that we can change the way we live as a humanity?”

It’s not only women who have to put these issues out there, men too, because men also have a lot of repressed pain and a lot of repressed sensitivity. I feel that the music becomes like a warrior to help us with that, the music makes us see it.

Speaking of powerful songs, I really liked "Nada Es Verdad" that you sing with Los Cojolites, who are like the voice of the people of Veracruz. The song has a strong message about society. How did this track become a part of the project?

It had to be part of this project because Un Canto Por México is a musical piece that is encapsulating the collective voice. I love this project. I didn't think of it that way when I started doing it—every project, every album, every song has its own spirit. You start to do it, but there is a point when you are recording in which the music shows its own spirit, its soul, its personality. There was a point in which Un Canto Por México began presenting itself as this collective project, of beings, of musicians, of artists, of a community.

Being that this is a community project, it is not just me. A community is the voice of all and is the song of everything happening today in our Mexico, whether it's nice or whether it's painful. This is what we are. We see it and sing to it and with love we look at it. This tree of life, you have to look at it, you have to fix that too, but it is a tree, it is a whole, it is a unit.

I really like to see this project like that and there had to be [songs like "Nada Es Verdad"] as well. Yes, we can sing to love, but we can also sing to that system that—sorry, but that system has failed. I [also] learned the power of love. How are we afraid of turning around to really look at each other? [We can] see that we are different, but at the same time we come from the same place and are made of the same thing, but we are different and there is diversity. Long live diversity, that is nature, this is the earth.

I feel like all those values are encapsulated in Un Canto Por Mexico. This project was born out of earthquakes that forced a collapse, a beautiful community center where good [has come from it] and that is this new reality that we can build.

That’s the reflection that remains for me. At least, you can always turn around and say, "I am going to be another kind of truth. I am going to build another kind of reality." I feel that it is a very inspiring project in that aspect and that all this is accompanied by music, that I could not explain all this to you and [so] you are going to feel it with the music.

Do you see music as activism?

Yes, totally. Maybe I wouldn't have seen it a few years ago, but today I realize that music has such a brutal capacity to impact. It moves us all, stirs us, confronts us, impacts us without us realizing it. There are songs today that I think we are already beginning to ask, "What? What does that song say? No. No, this is not cool." You start to question yourself and you say, "The rhythm is great, the music is great, the production is great, but [the lyrics] … no."

Just a little while ago someone asked me about how certain groups or artists have decided not to sing certain songs from their repertoires anymore because of the lyrics they are singing. I say we are living in an era, a time in which we are possibly waking up and we are being more aware of what we were singing and promoting without realizing it.

It is not because we are bad, it is only because we were not aware of certain issues that are experienced in other contexts. That is part of what we were talking about, is to begin to see and say, "I live a reality, but I have companions in other places who live another reality."

We have to see how to strengthen the threads because we are all connected. Art, music makes an impact, in some way or another it becomes—I mean, there are those who might say, "No, I'm not an activist," OK, fine, but what you're doing is going to make an impact in one way or another, it will generate something in whoever hears it.

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Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Hear The Album Of The Year Nominees
Art for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs

Graphic Courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy


Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Hear The Album Of The Year Nominees

Here are the nominees for Album Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which will air Thursday, Nov. 16 from Sevilla, Spain.

GRAMMYs/Sep 19, 2023 - 01:42 pm

The Latin GRAMMYs Album Of The Year category honors the work of both the established leaders and hottest rising stars in Latin music. The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs nominees for Album Of The Year include recordings by reggaeton and pop artists who are breaking down barriers in the music industry, alongside some of the most well-known and beloved singer/songwriters in Spanish.

These 10 albums were chosen to represent the most significant voices in Latin music for 2023: La Cu4rta Hoja (Pablo Alborán), A Ciegas (Paula Arenas), De Adentro Pa Afuera (Camilo), Décimo Cuarto (Andrés Cepeda), Vida Cotidiana (Juanes), Mañana Será Bonito (Karol G), De Todas Las Flores (Natalia Lafourcade), Play (Ricky Martín), Eadda9223 (Fito Páez), and Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así (Carlos Vives). 

Ahead of the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, officially known as the 24th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards — which will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Sevilla, Spain — learn about the nominees for this prestigious category. Don’t miss the broadcast on Univision at 8 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CT).

Read More: 2023 Latin GRAMMYs: See The Complete Nominations List

La Cu4rta Hoja – Pablo Alborán

Pop singer/songwriter Pablo Alborán closed out 2022 with an explosion of optimism and carefree experimentation titled La Cu4rta Hoja

Throwing off the isolation of the pandemic, the Spanish chart-topper found himself ready to collaborate. The album features bold duets with música Mexicana star Carín León and Argentinian singer María Becerra, providing Alborán with the opportunity to branch out into genres, such as flamenco, that he’d never flirted with before

Evidently, he also felt like dancing as the normally ballad oriented artist stacked his album with breezy, playa-ready dance beats. Alborán has already been nominated for 24 Latin GRAMMYs, including a nomination for Best New Artist. He was nominated for Album Of The Year in 2013 for his sophomore album Tanto, making this his second Album Of The Year nomination. 

A Ciegas – Paula Arenas

Colombian singer/songwriter Paula Arenas’ career has been defined by an independent spirit since its beginning. The unconventional pop artist sang covers in nightclubs until she scored a hit single with "Lo Que El Tiempo Dejó" (featuring alt-pop legend Esteman) from her self-released debut EP, and except for a brief period with Sony Music Colombia, when she released her debut album Visceral, all her other releases have been with smaller labels. 

The indie darling’s roots are still showing on the clever, intimate A Ciegas, which finds her exploring a more stripped down version of her piano driven sound. Lead single "Puro Sentimiento," featuring fellow Colombian Manuel Medrano, shines with quirky-cool, ’80s inspired glamor. Being just a little different doesn’t seem to be holding her back: The video for "Puro Sentimiento" has more than 1 million streams on YouTube and counting. 

De Adentro Pa Afuera – Camilo

Iconic, stylish, unforgettable — and we’re not just talking about Camilo's mustache. The mononymous pop singer with the disarming soprano already has a few Latin GRAMMYs to his name, notably album of the year for 2021’s Mis Manos. He’s written hits for Becky G and Bad Bunny, but solo work is where Camilo really lets his creativity off the leash. 

The songs on his third studio album, De Adentro Pa Afuera, range from scruffy, loosely slung takes on reggaeton to bouncy folk pop jams that showcase his romantic side. It also hosts such diverse musical guests as Camila Cabello, Myke Towers and Grupo Firme. In the hands of a lesser artist it might be disjointed, but with Camilo at the controls it’s a masterclass in joyful chaos.

Décimo Cuarto – Andrés Cepeda

A master of the devastating love song made an exuberant return this year with help from a few equally formidable friends. Colombia’s Andrés Cepeda corralled the talents of such artists as Ximena Sariñana and Gusi for a delicately tropical, massively emotional album titled simply Décimo Cuarto

Gentle danzón and milonga rhythms ("Le Viene Bien") and lyrics about love that defies time, space and reality ("En Otra Vida") are just a couple of the elements that make up the album's restrained, yet robust mix. Décimo Cuarto also includes sweeping power ballads with Reik and Joss Favela ("Tu Despertador" and "Si Todo Se Acaba," respectively). Cepeda previously won a Latin GRAMMY in 2013 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Lo Mejor Que Hay En Mi Vida

Vida Cotidiana – Juanes

Loyal fans of Juanes’ rock side were rewarded for their patience when the Colombian superstar released Vida Cotidiana, an epic return to form complete with psychedelic flourishes and a healthy dose of funk and varied Caribbean influences. 

Early pandemic quarantine found the artist with a lot of time at home with his family, which provided some of the inspiration for the album. He used the unanticipated pause to study poetry, take voice and guitar lessons, and record the numerous demos that would, in time, become Vida Cotidiana. Juanes said he considers it his best album, and the time and passion he put into it is obvious. 

The legendary singer and songwriter has brought home 26 Latin GRAMMYs over the years and, with his 10th solo album he’s made a strong case for a 27th.

Mañana Será Bonito – Karol G

Musical powerhouse, reggaetonera and general bichota, Karol G is one major reason why all eyes are on Colombia. After establishing herself as a hit-making star in the adjoining worlds of reggaeton and Latin trap is clearly enjoying her success and savoring the moment.

As you might be able to guess from the sunshine and rainbows doodled on the album cover, Mañana Será Bonito was one of 2023' most fun albums, bubbling over with sass and unapologetic sexuality. Everyone is invited to the party: Mañana Será Bonito has features with Romeo Santos, Shakira, Carla Morrison and Sean Paul. It debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 making it the first all-Spanish language album by a female artist with that distinction.

De Todas Las Flores – Natalia Lafourcade

De Todas Las Flores is the first collection of completely original material from Mexican singer/songwriter Natalia Lafourcade since 2015’s critically acclaimed Hasta La Raiz (for which she received two Latin GRAMMYs). 

Both Lafourcade and producer Adán Jodorowsky took a less-is-more approach on this new offering, which allowed for a subtle play of emotion on songs such as the aching title track. Famously a fan of Mexico’s rich musical heritage, De Todas Las Flores finds Lafourcade experimenting with stripped down cumbia and son, while also branching out into other regions of Latin America with bossa nova, samba and bolero. The understated arrangements perfectly complement the profound and profoundly personal tracks, which Lafourcade has described as "a musical diary." 

Play – Ricky Martín

After winning a Latin GRAMMY for his 2020 EP Pausa, Ricky Martín returned in 2022 with the logical bookend: a second EP titled Play. The Puerto Rican icon made the first recording in response to the cumulative challenges in his home island, ranging from Hurricane Maria to the pandemic. It also tackled heavy issues and served as a kind of therapy for Martín, who had started suffering from panic attacks. 

If Pausa was a held breath, Play is the satisfying exhale. More upbeat and even decidedly danceable in the case of the songs "Ácido Sabor" and "Paris in Love," it represents a return to life, if not a return to normal, and a focus on the romance and sensuality for which Martín has long been world famous.

Eadda9223 – Fito Páez

It takes someone unique to get both Elvis Costello and Nathy Peluso to guest on their album. Fito Páez has both on back-to-back songs on Eadda9223. 

The Argentinian rocker’s latest full-length is a revisiting of his epochal El Amor Después del Amor, this time letting a few more folks in on the caper. Besides the aforementioned co-conspirators, Páez is joined by Ca7riel and many other Argentinian iconoclasts who no doubt owe something to the trailblazing rock en español singer/songwriter. Each track on Eadda9223 is reimagined: The new version of "Sasha, Sissí Y El Círculo De Baba" with Mon Laferte crackles with Tex-Mex electricity that bears no connection to the original, but is a perfect vehicle for Laferte’s vocal range and flair for drama.

Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así – Carlos Vives

What happens when a legend offers a tribute to a legend? Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así, the Carlos Vives album celebrating the music of vallenato composer Rafael Escalona answers that question with moving clarity. 

Vives has brought the tropical sounds of Colombian vallenato to the world mixing them with pop and rock music, becoming a major star in the process. His deepest debt is to Escalona, who is remembered in Colombia as a storyteller and legendary personality. 

Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así updates the Escalona’s famous compositions while striving to preserve their inherent spirit. The album is also a celebration of Vives’ own career, which now spans three decades. In addition to his innovation and longevity, Vives is an extremely prolific artist whose many releases have brought him two GRAMMYs and 15 Latin GRAMMYs.

Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Song Of The Year Nominees — Read Them Here

Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Record Of The Year Nominees — Read Them Here
Art for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs

Graphic Courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy


Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Record Of The Year Nominees — Read Them Here

Here are the nominees for Record Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which will air Thursday, Nov. 16 from Sevilla, Spain.

GRAMMYs/Sep 19, 2023 - 01:39 pm

The Latin Recording Academy has just announced the nominees for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which air Thursday, Nov. 16, from Sevilla's Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES), marking the first-ever international telecast in the history of the organization and awards. This year, 11 performing artists and producers have a chance at one of the night's top awards: Record Of The Year. Christina Aguilera, Pablo Alborán, Paula Arenas with Jesús Navarro, Bizarrap with Shakira, Fonseca with Juan Luis Guerra, Karol G, Natalia Lafourcade, Lasso, Maluma with Marc Anthony, Rosalía, and Alejandro Sanz with Danny Ocean have been nominated in the category this year. 

Below, get to know all of the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs Record of the Year nominees. Then, be sure to tune into the 24th Latin GRAMMY Awards on Univision at 8 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CT) to see who wins!

Read More: 2023 Latin GRAMMYs: See The Complete Nominations List

"No Es Que Te Extrañe" – Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera rounded out her self-titled Latin album last fall with "No Es Que Te Extrañe," one of her most personal songs. The pop icon highlighted her Latina heritage by embracing the music stylings of pasillo, a popular genre in Ecuador. 

Aguilera's powerhouse voice soars as she sings about finding healing and closure from a traumatic childhood experience. The song builds from a vulnerable ballad to a moment of flamenco-infused catharsis. 

"Carretera y Manta" – Pablo Alborán

Musical worlds collide in Pablo Alborán's "Carretera y Manta," in which the Spanish singer/songwriter blends '80s-inspired pop with elements of contemporary Latin urbano beats. 

The standout single from his La Cuarta Hoja album, Alborán sings about not worrying about the destination, but instead enjoying the journey to get there. Alborán is known for big ballads and with this carpe diem anthem, he shows off a more upbeat and danceable side to his artistry. 

"Déjame Llorarte" – Paula Arenas Feat. Jesús Navarro

Colombian singer/songwriter Paula Arenas explores the emotional depth of Latin pop music in "Déjame Llorarte," teaming up with Jesús Navarro, the powerhouse voice behind Mexican group Reik. 

The heartfelt ballad is centered by Arenas and Navarro's sweet shared harmonies, which detail moving on from a breakup. Backed by piano and strings, the soulful collaboration was included on Arenas' A Ciegas album.

"Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" – Bizarrap Feat. Shakira

Shakira turned a difficult time in her personal life into a global moment of empowerment. The Colombian pop icon teamed up with Argentinian producer Bizarrap for "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53." 

Bizarrap seamlessly blends elements of EDM and Latin urbano music, as Shakira unleashes her inner "She Wolf" once again. In her Bzrp session, Shakira gave women wronged by an ex a kiss-off anthem that is packed with plenty of punchlines. "Women no longer cry, women get paid," she sings in Spanish. 

"Si Tú Me Quieres" – Fonseca & Juan Luis Guerra

Two giants in Latin music joined forces on the romantic "Si Tú Me Quieres." Colombia's Fonseca teamed up with Juan Luis Guerra, who hails from the Dominican Republic. The traditional vallenato sound of Fonseca's country is beautifully blended with the tropical music that Guerra is known for. 

The dreamy duo serenade listeners around the world, trading verses about the power of love behind a kiss. 

"Mientras Me Curo Del Cora" – Karol G

In addition to scoring further reggaetón hits from Mañana Será Bonito, Karol G also showed versatility to her artistry on her latest album. 

The Colombian superstar sampled the feel-good classic "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin in "Mientras Me Curo Del Cora." With a bit of reggaetón in the mix, she turns a dark moment in her life into Latin pop positivity and allows listeners get to know Carolina Giraldo Navarro the woman behind Karol G. 

"De Todas Las Flores" – Natalia Lafourcade

After paying homage to the music of Mexico and Latin America in her past few releases, Natalia Lafourcade returned last year with De Todas Las Flores, an album of all original music. 

On the hypnotic title track, Lafourcade shows why she is one of Mexico's most exciting and innovative alternative acts. Lafourcade masterfully melds the sound of her guitar, folkloric Latin music, and jazz in the song where she mourns the memories of a past romance. 

"Ojos Marrones" – Lasso

Last year, Lasso scored one of the biggest global hits that was outside the Latin urbano genre. The Venezuelan singer/songwriter channeled the spirit of '70s soft rock in "Ojos Marrones, citing Fleetwood Mac as one of his inspirations for the alluring love song.

With his raspy voice, Lasso sings about getting lost in his partner's brown eyes. Lasso continued to put a refreshing spin on the music of pop past throughout his album Eva

"La Fórmula" – Maluma & Marc Anthony

To tap into the sound of salsa music, Maluma teamed up with one of the genre's giants. In "La Fórmula," the Colombian superstar joined forces with Nuyorican icon Marc Anthony for a charming duet. 

The colorful and sweeping song was included on Maluma's Don Juan album. Backed by a full band and tropical beats, Maluma and Anthony sing about wanting to reignite the romance with an old flame. 

"Despechá" – Rosalía

Rosalía continued to push Latin music to new places in the deluxe version Motomami, last year's Latin GRAMMY Album Of The Year winner. 

This year, the Spanish pop star blended elements of merengue, pop, and house music in "Despechá." Instead of being bogged down by a breakup, Rosalía gets the mambo dance line started while singing about cutting loose with her close friends. The genre-bending track was Rosalía's fierce remedy for channeling spiteful feelings into a cathartic club experience. 

"Correcaminos" – Alejandro Sanz Featuring Danny Ocean

Spanish pop icon Alejandro Sanz teamed up with rising Venezuelan star Danny Ocean for "Correcaminos." The sultry collaboration combines the alternative reggaetón sound of Ocean with flamenco influences from Sanz's home country.

Sanz and Ocean sing from the heart about winning over the women of their dreams. Whether that happens in this lifetime or the next, both singers are determined to make that happen in this magical duet.

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2022 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Latin Music
(From left) Bad Bunny, El Alfa, Natalia Laforcade, Rosalía, Rauw Alejando

PHOTO: Gladys Vega/ Getty Images; John Parra/Getty Images; Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy; Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Latin Recording


2022 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Latin Music

2022 glowed with abundance in every region and style — from Chilean folk and Mexican sierreño to Argentine synth-pop, Dominican dembow and good old fashioned rock en español.

GRAMMYs/Dec 27, 2022 - 08:51 pm

Years from now, 2022 is likely to be remembered as a moment of expansion and inspiration for Latin music. It’s not only that the unstoppable reggaetón beat and its multiple permutations brought people to their feet as the entire world danced to the sounds of Bad Bunny, KAROL G and Rosalía.  

After years of pandemic-related suffering, 2022 glowed with abundance in every region and style — from Chilean folk and Mexican sierreño to Argentine synth-pop, Dominican dembow and good old fashioned rock en español. Forgotten genres were resurrected and given bright new outfits, while a wave of daring young producers experimented with cutting-edge textures and studio effects. Globalization shook up the Latin spectrum, and the results are splendorous.

Here are some of the notable trends that emerged during the past 12 months.

The New Epicenter Of Global Pop? Puerto Rico 

As the mainstream embraces Latin trap, EDM and folk genres like champeta and bachata in this brave digital world of neo-reggaetón hits, Puerto Rican vocalists and producers have mastered the recipe of success. 2022 marked the third consecutive year in which Bad Bunny was the most streamed artist in the world on Spotify. An intriguing combination of raucous party hedonism and melancholy self-reflection, Benito’s musical universe continues to evolve, but his hold on pop culture is part of a wider trend.  

The year also saw the release of excellent new tracks by Ozuna, Rauw Alejandro, Daddy Yankee and Myke Towers, confirming San Juan as the avant-garde capital of Latin futurism. La isla del encanto’s dominance shouldn’t surprise the most studious observers of popular music, though. Just like Jamaica, Puerto Rico has given birth to countless legends in the past, from Tito Rodríguez and Cheo Feliciano to El Gran Combo and Héctor Lavoe. Further, there is a solid threadline that unites the early salsa sizzle of 'Maelo' Rivera with the 2000’s narratives of Tego Calderón and the melodic brilliance of a Rauw Alejandro.

The Seduction Of Retro Lives On 

Much of today’s Latin music relies on the-future-is-now sonics, with the use of autotune, synth patches and all sorts of studio gimmicks to create the slick patina of today's hits. At the same time, a number of artists prefer a return to analog warmth and the formats that hypnotized their ears in younger times.  

Growing up in Texas, multi-instrumentalist and Black Pumas leader Adrian Quesada developed an obsession with the intoxicating strand of psychedelic baladas that flourished throughout Latin America between the early ‘60s and mid ‘70s. Quesada had already recorded a reverential cover of "Esclavo y Amo" by Peruvian combo Los Pasteles Verdes, but in 2022 he recorded an entire album, Boleros Psicodélicos, with mostly original songs that capture the sinuous beauty and baroque harpsichord lines of the original genre.  

Following a similar vein, Natalia Lafourcade’s stunning De Todas Las Flores favored a retro approach with songs such as the breezy tropi-pop gem "Canta la arena." The album was recorded live on tape, with every musician present in the recording studio and no previous rehearsals. And if the intro to the solemn "Llévame viento" reminds you of Claude Debussy and French impressionism, it’s no coincidence. The Mexican vocalist showed producer Adán Jodorowsky pictures by Claude Monet for inspiration while they worked on the record.   

Dembow Transforms The Urbano Landscape 

Hypnotic and repetitive, the Dominican genre known as dembow is instantly addictive, but at the same time a bit of an acquired taste. Because of its aggressive pattern, it can be successfully transplanted to mainstream reggaetón — a prime example being Bad Bunny’s eye-opening use of dembow in his mega-hit "Tití Me Preguntó."

The indisputable king of the format remains El Alfa, the incredibly prolific, 31 year-old singer/songwriter from Santo Domingo who has turned the native riddims and hilarious slang from his homeland into a cottage industry of feverish dance anthems. El Alfa (Emanuel Herrer Batista) releases singles and videos at a breakneck pace, and 2022 found him riding a creative wave. A collaboration with Braulio Fogón and Chael Produciendo, "Tontorón Tontón" grooves with a fervor that borders on insanity, as El Alfa spits out rhymes that fuse hilarious vulgarity with surreal impressionism.

Last Night A Lo-Fi Songstress Saved My Life

While the ubiquitous stars of the Latin pop firmament compete for hundreds of millions of streams, indie artists from Argentina to Mexico continue doing what they do best: writing awesome songs. Easy access to recording equipment has allowed a young generation of female bedroom-pop and lo-fi rock performers to blossom undeterred by any record label interference.

On her brilliant and darkly hued EP Misterios de la Plata, Argentine singer Srta. Trueno Negro channels her devotion to the Velvet Underground. Hailing from Culiacán in Sinaloa, Bratty collaborated with Cuco on the hazy reverie of "Fin Del Mundo." In Brazil, São Paolo native Brvnks flexed her angular, guitar-based hooks on "sei la," an atmospheric duet with Raça. Seeped in the sugary vibes of ‘80s Argentine bands like Metrópoli, "Tuna" — an under promoted single by young Buenos Aires composer Mora Navarro — is probably one of the most gorgeous Latin songs of the decade.

Bachata Officially Not A Niche Genre Anymore

All those Dominican aristocrats of the early 20th century who looked down on bachata as the filthy music of the lower classes would shake their heads in disbelief if they saw the place of honor it occupies today. Prince Royce and Romeo Santos made headway in bringing the authentic strains of música del amargue into the mainstream.  

But just like salsa in the ‘90s, bachata is now part of the pop lexicon, and artists from different genres delve into its mystique. Most famously, Rosalía, whose majestic "LA FAMA" distorts the expected guitar lines into jagged, digitalized objects of beauty. The autobiographical lyrics are poignant, and the diva’s decision to enlist the Weeknd helped to further the cause (as it turns out, bachata’s wounded feelings sting even more deliciously as a duet.) In Colombia, Elsa y Elmar aimed at the very roots of the genre with "atravesao," complete with skittish bongó beats and a vocal delivery that bleeds unrequited romance. Even in Buenos Aires, bachata has attracted the muse of talented songwriters such as Silvina Moreno, whose "Ley de Atracción" muses philosophically on the perverse contradictions of erotic desire.

2022 Year In Review: 7 Trends That Defined R&B

A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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