Bad Bunny came close to making history at the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday with his record-breaking "Un Verano Sin Ti" album.
“Un Verano Sin Ti” was poised to become the first Spanish-language album to win the top prize in the history of the Recording Academy, before losing to Harry Styles for his album "Harry's House."
Also nominated for album of the year were ABBA, Adele, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar and Lizzo and Harry Styles.
But Bad Bunny did not go home empty handed. “Un Verano Sin Ti” won an award for best música urbana album, beating Latin urban music legend Daddy Yankee as well as Farruko, Maluma and Rauw Alejandro.
Watch the highlights from the 2023 Grammy AwardsFeb. 6, 202302:11
The artist also lit up the Grammy stage with his opening performance. Bad Bunny recreated iconic scenes from Puerto Rico's most famous street festival known as Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián to the folkloric sound of bomba y plena.
The medley included parts of his song “El Apagón,” which infuses Puerto Rican folkloric rhythms with electronic dance music, and his energetic mambo track "Después de la playa."
Dancing alongside Bad Bunny were "cabezudos." Traditionally, performers at Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián wear costumes with gigantic heads, representing historical figures who have contributed to Puerto Rican culture.
Performers from the Puerto Rico-based arts collective Agua Sol y Sereno dressed as reggaeton pioneer Tego Calderón, poet Julia De Burgos, salsa singer Andy Montañez, music composer Tite Curet Alonso, women’s rights activist Lola Rodríguez de Tió, Major League Baseball player Roberto Clemente and musician Ismael "Maelo" Rivera.
Bad Bunny was also nominated for best pop solo performance with "Moscow Mule," the opening track that sets the tone to "Un Verano Sin Ti." Adele ultimately won in that category with her hit "Easy On Me."
“Un Verano Sin Ti” was a critically acclaimed album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 record chart following its release and spent 13 nonconsecutive weeks at the top of the chart — the most weeks at No. 1 since 2016.
"Un Verano Sin Ti," Bad Bunny's fourth studio album, was only the second Spanish-language album to top that chart. The first was Bad Bunny's previous studio album "El Último Tour Del Mundo."
"He didn't just put out a Spanish album, he put out the top-selling album in the world," Leila Cobo, Billboard’s chief content officer of Latin, told NBC News. "I think that the Academy would look very tone-deaf if they didn't put this album in the running."
Bad Bunny also set the world record for the highest grossing tour in a calendar year in 2022, amassing $435.3 million with over 2.4 million tickets sold across 81 shows from his most recent concert tours, “World’s Hottest Tour” and “El Último Tour del Mundo.”
Bad Bunny's global impact — en español
Vanessa Diaz, the co-creator of the Bad Bunny Syllabus project and a professor at Loyola Marymount University — where she teaches a course titled "Bad Bunny and Resistance in Puerto Rico” — told NBC News she gets a sense of the artist's global impact from her students.
"You don't have to understand what the lyrics are, but if you do understand, it adds a whole other level," Diaz said. Her Spanish-speaking students are delving into Puerto Rican slang to better understand Bad Bunny's music, while non-Spanish speakers are looking to learn the language.
"The fact that he is nominated, and he only speaks Spanish in his album, and he didn't have to cross over into English, and people who don't speak Spanish love his music, that is so fundamentally groundbreaking," Diaz said on Friday. "This moment is so historic, that we can't underestimate what it means culturally, what it means, historically. We are constantly going to come back to this moment, whether he wins or not."
For Diaz and Cobo, Bad Bunny's authenticity is a key characteristic to his global appeal.
Part of Bad Bunny's authenticity comes through in the way he centers Puerto Rico in his music as well as the way he infuses multiple music genres while keeping his reggaeton DNA, Diaz said. "Bad Bunny's voice has now been equated to reggaeton."
"He manages to put all his idiosyncrasies in there. And that's, I think, what makes him so unique," Cobo said.