What Happened in Vegas: The Latin Grammy Awards Take Over Sin City

“My God, what women,” exclaimed Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo at last night’s 11th Annual Latin Grammy presentation after receiving the Person of the Year award from Ricky Martin. And how could he not notice? Held at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the show was full of long-legged beauties—dancers, aerialists and acrobats!—from the start. But they were merely eye candy as the real stars of this yearly spectacle were bachata king Juan Luis Guerra and Mexican pop band Camila, who won three Latin Grammys a piece.

Guerra, who opened the night with a medley of “La Guagua” and “Lolas Mambo” accompanied by trumpeter Chris Botti and “junk rock” drummers Recycled Percussion, won Best Tropical Song, Best Contemporary Tropical Album and Album of the Year for A Son de Guerra. If you’re keeping count, that’s a total of 16 Grammys (Latin and otherwise) throughout the Dominican crooner’s career. Last night, he dedicated one of his gramaphones to “a better Latin America” after calling for “better justice, more honesty and more integrity.”

Meanwhile, the Mexican trio Camila nabbed Record of the Year, Best Pop Album by a Duo or Group and Best Song of the Year for “Mientes,” which was written by frontman Mario Domm and Monica Vélez. Domm received the last award saying, “many years, many empty pages, many phrases that are in a drawer and suddenly one has the luck to reach your hearts.” And touch hearts it did. The song was inspired by “a moment of disappointment when [Mario] realized that his partner was hiding things,” guitarist Pablo Hurtado told Latina. “I think people identify with it because almost everyone has been lied to at some point in their life.”

Camila also took the mike to perform their current single “Besame” while surrounded by the haze of smoke machines and the water-soaked acrobats from Cirque du Soleil’s Le Reve.

They were one of many performers to take advantage of Vegas’ theatricality: Spaniard Enrique Iglesias was backed by a full marching band; Portuguese beauty Nelly Furtado, who snagged the award for Best Female Pop Album, was joined by masked dance crew Jabbawockeez; Venezuelan duo Chino y Nacho, winners for “Best Urban Music Album,” were transported on a cruise liner.

Yet, it was the duets that captivated us the most. Twenty-one-year-old Bachatero Prince Royce sang “Stand By Me” with 72-year-old R&B legend Ben E. King, who originated the song back in the early ‘60s. “The Gentleman of Salsa” Gilberto Santa Rosa and “The Black Horse” Johnny Ventura showcased what their music is all about—a good time. And Marc Anthony’s booming vocals dug into “Y Como Es El?” before the track’s first interpreter José Luis Perales appeared on stage. And while the guys sang their hearts out, a beaming Jennifer Lopez sat in the first row, whispering “I love you” to her man when he was done with his rousing rendition of his hit, "Tu Amor Me Hace Bien."

All in all, it was a night to remember. Alejandro Sanz captured the sentiment of the evening best when he received his prize for Best Male Pop Album: “I was at the first [Latin Grammy Awards], he said. “See how far we’ve come.” And if you think of it, that could also apply to Latinos in general and all of our hip-shaking, heart-wrenching, and inspired rhythms. 

For a full list of winners, go here: http://www.latingrammy.com/en/winners/1-general