The lackluster segues were redeemed by the performances. The show featured more than a dozen acts performed by some of the hottest names in Latin music. Ricky Martin, joined by the popular Blue Man Group, opened the show with a medley of songs from his MTV Unplugged album and, in traditional Las Vegas style, the act was a spectacle of raucous costumes and neon color. The conga players faces were painted with demonic day-glo colors, Ricky Martin shook his bon-bon with aplomb and the act ended in glorious color as paint sprayed all over the performers.
A few years ago there was criticism that the Latin Grammy awards treated the very popular regional Mexican music as a poor cousin while focusing most of the attention on tropical genres. Well, no one can say that anymore. Regional Mexican music was well represented with spirited performances by Intocable, Conjunto Primavera, Alacranes Musical and Pepe Aguilar (who also took home the Grammy for "Best Ranchera Album" for his romantic Enamorado.
Urban music was also well represented. Calle 13 (who were also the big urban winners at last years show) took home both Grammies for their clever Residente O Visitante; they also put on a great act with the help of Orishas and the cast of "Stomp Out Loud." (The Orishas share the second Grammy with Calle 13 for "Pal Norte.") They also featured a squad of colorfully dressed Arauco Indians from Colombia, although I'm not sure what the significance was for the Puerto Rican duo.
For my taste, the cleverest act was the performance by Ivy Queen, who sang her hit "Que Lloren" dressed as a geisha - well, the reggaeton version of a geisha - and was surrounded by a Japanese masked ensemble. Daddy Yankee also made a spectacular appearance, featuring some great tap dancing and a bevy of Vegas-style showgirls.
Miguel Bose and La Quinta Estacion sang their hearts out and showcased music from Spain. There was a touching moment when the daughter of Rocio Durcal, Shaila Durcal, sang "Amor Eterno" as a tribute to her mother.
Juan Luis Guerra wrapped up the show with a great rendition of his hit, "La Travesia" with the help of percussionist Sheila E. The finale was far better than last year's salsa act, where some of the biggest names in salsa sort of wandered the stage and looked like they had never rehearsed together.
Juan Luis Guerra was the big winner, taking home six Grammies for his truly great album, La Llave De Mi Corazon. He beat out Elvis Crespo for "Best Merengue Album", but really - is La Llave a merengue album? It seems to me that it would have been better categorized as a contemporary tropical album. The winner of the "Best Contemporary Tropical Album" was Oscar D'Leon for Fuzionando which would be better cast as a salsa album! But hey, maybe the Latin Recording Academy knows something I don't.
Speaking of salsa, not only were there no performances by salsa artists, but the award for "Best Salsa Album" was not even delivered on air. Maybe it's because the winners, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, weren't in attendance? Well, it would have been an expensive trip. There sure are a lot of them!