When you think of big Latin superstars, you might default to Bad Bunny. However, one of the most consistently successful Latin artists of the past five years has undoubtedly been Karol G, who has notched hits like “Mi Cama,” “Tusa,” “Bichota,” and most recently “Mamiii” and “Provenza.” While Karol’s rise has been perhaps slower than Bad Bunny’s, it does seem like the Colombian superstar has made it, especially with the success of her most recent record, “Mañana Será Bonito.” The album managed to become the first all-Spanish album by a female singer to top the Billboard 200, debuting at number-one with over 90,000 units. “Mañana Será Bonito” is also only the third all-Spanish album to top the chart, with the first two being “El Último Tour del Mundo” and “Un Verano Sin Ti,” both by Bad Bunny. At the last Grammys, we saw that Bad Bunny’s success was rewarded by recording academy members, who nominated him in key categories like Best Pop Solo Performance and Album of the Year. So with Karol shaping up to be this year’s Latin superstar, are we bound to see her in the big leagues at the 2024 awards?
As mentioned above, Karol has the commercial success to warrant an Album of the Year nom. Her album topped the charts, and she’s having singles success too. The album’s lead, “Provenza,” peaked at number-25 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the newest single, “TQG” featuring Shakira, debuted at number-seven on the chart. This type of success for an artist singing in Spanish is not very common, which could inspire academy members to honor her record-breaking achievement. It also likely helps that the album has big features like Shakira, since having a more-established Grammy winner on your song can help make you more visible to voters (see J Balvin and Bad Bunny’s “Un Día (One Day)” being helped by Dua Lipa to an eventual nomination in the pop field in 2021).
Another factor in Karol’s favor is acclaim. As of mid-March, outlets like Rolling Stone and The Guardian have praised Karol’s album, earning it an 87 on Metacritic. Granted, the album doesn’t have many reviews counted by that review aggregator, but that doesn’t really differ from Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti.” As long as the reviews are positive, that’s a good indication of how the media feels about the album. And if the album keeps commercial momentum, it’s also likely that it gets more attention on year-end lists, again like how Bad Bunny’s record did.
But just like with “Un Verano Sin Ti,” a big part of why “Mañana Será Bonito” could be recognized is what it represents. To see such an unashamedly Latin music record achieve crossover recognition is a reminder of how diverse music is, which is certainly something to support going forward. While the Grammys aren’t the be-all and end-all of music, it is their duty to uplift quality music and promote a future for the music industry that’s representative of all genres.
“Un Verano Sin Ti” was a great inclusion, but if the Grammys want to truly show that its nomination was more of a movement than a moment, Karol G is right there for voters to embrace. It’d also be very special for a Latin woman to do so, especially with how neglected they’ve been by the academy, which has managed to nominate popular Latin male artists recently but has not really given the same attention to Spanish-language women. That said, I do have faith the Grammys are expanding their taste; before Bad Bunny, there were noms for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s “Despacito” in Record and Song of the Year, and Rosalía in Best New Artist. So, there’s faith in a possible second all-Spanish album getting recognized for its merits. And it certainly helps that this year’s potential Album of the Year lineup is not looking very crowded thus far.
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