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5 storylines as the Latin Grammys return to Las Vegas

Once again, the man of the hour is an uber-suave Spaniard with a voice that could make an eggplant sigh.

Balladeer extraordinaire Alejandro Sanz again possesses an avalanche’s momentum heading into the Latin Grammy Awards.

Leading the field with eight nominations, Sanz appears poised to add his collection of 17 Latin Grammy trophies.

Having won album of the year three times, more than any other artist, the 50-year-old Sanz again is up for the honor when the Latin Grammy Awards return to the MGM Grand Garden on Nov. 14.

Will he build upon his own record next week?

That’s one of the top five Latin Grammy storylines to watch. Here are the rest:

Latin Grammys turn 20

This is no small thing for Latin music’s biggest night.

When they debuted on CBS in 2000 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the Latin Grammys became the first primarily Spanish-language prime-time show on an English-language American TV network.

The ceremonies are now broadcast by Univision and have been held annually in Las Vegas since 2009.

The popularity of the show, which attracted nearly 7 million viewers last year, echoes the rise in Latin music.

In 2018, Latin music surged into the top five of the most-consumed albums in the U.S. by genre, surpassing country music, according to data company BuzzAngle.

Also in 2018, the U.S. Latin music industry enjoyed its second consecutive year of double-digit growth, surging 18 percent to $413 million in revenues, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

So it’s fitting that such robust numbers begat an equally outsize awards show.

Family affair

Blood is thicker than water, and thicker still are the combined resumes of the Fernandez family.

First, there’s Vincente Fernandez.

“The King of Ranchera Music,” Fernandez has sold more than 50 million albums, won eight Latin Grammy Awards — plus three Grammy Awards — and has long served as the face of traditional Mexican music.

Then there’s his son Alejandro Fernandez, a Latin music icon in his own right and two-time Latin Grammy winner. Alejandro diverges from his father’s traditionalism in favor of more pop-leaning sounds, to the tune of 30 million records sold.

Next up is his son, 25-year-old Alex Fernandez Jr., a rising singer himself.

For the first time, all three will share the stage at the Latin Grammy ceremonies, which will be an especially noteworthy occasion considering that the 79-year-old Vincente retired from live performances in 2016.

Hot sound, cold shoulder

On guard, old guard: J Balvin is coming for you.

He’s not alone: Fellow contemporary Latin music stars Daddy Yankee and Maluma are by his side in publicly critiquing the Latin Grammys following September’s announcement of this year’s nominees.

The reason?

All three reggaeton and Latin trap prime movers feel that their style of music has been unfairly snubbed by the Latin Grammys.

They have a point.

Though all are immensely popular, no artists of their ilk are up for trophies in the three biggest categories: album of the year, song of the year and record of the year.

This didn’t sit well with Balvin, who took to Instagram to criticize what he perceived to be the ghetto-ization of the sound in question in the urban music categories, even though he is up for two awards this year after leading all artists with eight nominations in 2018.

“Without reggaeton, there is no Latin Grammys,” he wrote.

Daddy Yankee has had his back.

“Despite being nominated, I don’t agree with the way they treated the genre and a lot of my colleagues,” he chimed in on Instagram.

Perhaps their beef will be continued in the flesh: Latin trap star Bad Bunny, who has collaborated with both, will be among this year’s Latin Grammy performers.

Rosalia redux?

One of 2018’s breakout Latin music stars didn’t really have a breakout moment during last year’s Latin Grammys.

Though Spanish flamenco pop singer-songwriter Rosalia was up for five awards, making her the second-most-nominated artist, and went home with two, she missed out in the more prestigious song of the year and record of the year categories.

Now Rosalia’s back, once again up for five trophies, including the big one, album of the year.

And she’s bringing plenty of heat via “Con Altura,” her hypnotic hit with J Balvin, whose video has racked up more than a billion views, making it the most popular clip by a female artist in 2019.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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