No one at MGM Grand Garden Arena was surprised when “Despacito” took four trophies at the Latin Grammy Awards on November 16—the biggest night in Latin music was definitely going to recognize one of the biggest Spanish-language singles ever to hit the global charts. But the rest of the musical event was full of extraordinary performances, astonishing award presentations and memorable moments—including some very Vegas team-ups. Henderson resident Steve Aoki and Marquee Nightclub artist French Montana helped amp up a performance by J Balvin and Bad Bunny, and Wynn Nightlife superstar Diplo was part of a show-closing ensemble (along with Bomba Estéreo and Victor Manuelle) that performed Luis Fonsi’s smash “Despacito.”
Bringing awareness and aid to Puerto Rico was the focal point of the 18th-annual awards ceremony, which opened with a moment of silence followed by Puerto Rican rap phenom Residente—who scored nine nominations and won two awards—performing “Hijos de Cañaveral.” Alejandro Sanz received the 2017 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year award, and Hamilton playwright Lin Manuel-Miranda was awarded the President’s Merit Award.
Among the surprises were bachata-pop singer-songwriter Vicente García snagging three Latin Grammys and actor-salsa singer Ruben Blades winning twice for the album he recorded with Roberto Delgado & Orquesta—including the coveted Album of the Year award, where the veteran performer won out over stiff competition from Juanes, Shakira, Nicky Jam and Residente.