Latin Grammys: Meet the Underdogs

PHOTO: Gaby Amarantos

Facebook.com/GabyAmarantos

It's Latin Grammys week and we've already touched down in Las Vegas for a whirlwind of live music, red carpets, swag suites, and, of course, catching up with your favorite artists – the usual suspects like Juanes, Alejandro Sanz and Pitbull.

See Also: 10 Nominated Artists Who Rule On Social Media.

Still, one of the most exciting parts about this week is discovering new talent – those guys and girls who will be stars tomorrow. Take Best New Artist nominee Juan Magan, whose monster single "Bailando Por Ahi" was impossible to ignore this year. Or Michel Telo, the wunderkind behind "Ai Si Eu Te Pego," who received a Best Brazilian Song nod.

The boys of 3BallMTY aren't far behind, having created a whole movement out of Monterrey, Mexico and a big following on social media. Erick Rincon, Sheeqo Beat, and DJ Otto, who collectively make up 3BallMTY, are also nominated in the Best New Artist category along with Magan.

Along with those now-familiar names here are some others you should meet, before they blow up.

Gaby Amarantos

Nomination: Best New Artist

Meet Gaby Amarantos, 34, at the forefront of the movement they call "tecno brega," or unapologetic cheesy techno. It's no wonder Gaby knows how to shake it and wears the occasional glittery and feathered get-up. The girl comes from a family of samba dancers. We dare you not to get up off your seat when watching the video for "Ela Ta Beba Doida" (She's Crazy Drunk), off her latest album, Treme. She's technically been around since the early 2000s, but Brazil is like its own continent so it's taken her this long to garner a Latin Grammy nod and gain global attention. Hey, when the BBC is on to you, it's fair to say that you're on your way.

Ulises Hadjis

Nomination: Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album, Cosas Perdidas

One of the most buzzed about singer-songwriters since he released his debut Presente in 2008, Venezuelan Ulises Hadjis followed up with an excellent sophomore set Cosas Perdidas. The video for its lead single "Donde Va" shows him having fun in an artsy and psychedelic environment.

Caseroloops

Nomination: Best Tropical Fusion Album, Afronauta

This cool electro-tropical group from Venezuela is definitely the underdog in this category, where familiar names like Prince Royce, Juan Magan, and Fonseca pop up. But Caseroloops manage to infuse tropical genre with some fresh energy - check out their video for "Conexion" - much like Amigos Invisibles did back in the day.

Pamela Rodriguez

Nomination: Best Contemporary Vocal Album, Reconocer

Who said this was a boy's game? Uber-cool chick Pamela Rodriguez from Peru, who was a Best New Artist nominee at the 2006 Latin Grammys thanks to her impressive debut album, Peru Blue, has us pleasantly hallucinating off her new video for "Ligera Love." The always fashionable songstress makes the kind of indie-pop that, as Guanabee put it, makes us think of "vintage children's books and lollipops."

J. Alvarez & Farruko

Nominations: Best Urban Music Album, Otro Nivel De Musica Reloaded and The Most Powerful Rookie, respectively

There's hope for reggaeton still, thanks to these two 20-something-year-olds, both born and bred on La Isla Del Encanto and who are finding success internationally. J. Alvarez scored big this year with "La Pregunta," in which he's crooning like the best of them and Farruko didn't stay behind with "Titerito." Now, let's just hope that with all the history in the genre of el tiroteo (beefing), the veterans – Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, Wisin y Yandel – can make way for the new kids on the block and not player-hate.

Campo

Nomination: Best Alternative Song, "1987," featuring Jorge Drexler

We've already told you how much we love Campo, a.k.a. Juan Campodonico, a co-founder of the electro-tango collective Bajofondo and Gustavo Santaolalla protégé, and a skilled DJ and producer in his own right, whose video for "1987" is equally retro and futuristic in an ET sort of way. The Uruguayan singer/songwriter is one of the DJ's playing a set here in Las Vegas at the Remezcla Heineken House of Music – look out for tweets and Instagram pics from inside the DJ booth!

Doctor Krapula

Nomination: Best Rock Song, "Exigimos"

This Colombian rock band, formed by five friends in Bogota some 12 years ago, has had a huge fan in Juanes for years. This is their third Latin Grammy nod, and it's for the song "Exigimos" - last year they were up for Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Album for Corazon Bombea Vivo. Like Juanes, who lent a guitar solo to one of the tracks on their latest and sixth album, Viva El Planeta (Long Live The Planet), these guys sing about respecting Mother Nature and being better citizens of humanity, something we can all get behind.

Jotdog

Nomination: Best Pop/Rock Album, Turista Del Amor

Don't dismiss them because of the name. The duo of Maria Barracuda and Jorge "La Chiquis" Amaro (former lovers) had already been nominated in the Best New Artist category at the 2010 Latin Grammys. Still, they remained relatively unknown outside their native Mexico. That is until earlier this year, when they released their first U.S. album, Turista Del Amor. Their single "Lluvia de Estrellas" has a playful, synth-happy '80s vibe to it, recalling an era where people were less concerned about labels and genres and more interested in having fun.

Los Mesoneros

Nominations: Best New Artist and Best Rock Album, Indeleble

It's not just all politics in Venezuela. There is a really interesting musical rennaisance happening out of Caracas and the surrounding cities – one that artists like Los Mesoneros, La Vida Boheme (See Also: La Vida Boheme Come Clean About The Paint and the Politics) , Caseroloops, and Viniloversus (also nominated in the Best Rock Album category) are all players in. This year's Best New Artist nominees, the boys of Mesoneros bring style and substance to a genre that's been mostly neglected south of Mexico in the past 15 years. Also, we're digging the bowties in the video for the title track.

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Latin Grammy 2012 Nominees