The 2013 American Music Awards may have celebrated the best in American music, but by doing so the 41st annual ceremony commemorated the Latino contribution to pop culture at nearly every turn.
The AMAs – broadcast live from the NOKIA Theater in Los Angeles – were hosted by Pitbull, who opened the event with a few jokes about how the club scene in Miami practiced the “twerk” dance move long before Miley Cyrus made it popular. The first-time host made plenty of references to his Hispanic background during the three-hour show and even made a point to pronounce presenter Zoe Saldaña with the ñ.
But Pitbull – whose real name is Armando Christian Pérez – was the subject of plenty of tweets during the show, including from those who slammed the rapper for not being American and for dropping the occasional word in Spanish.
Yeah, let someone that can’t even enunciate his words or speak English without slipping in words of Spanish host the AMAs.
— Ninevehta Khoshaba (@Ninylovesyou) November 25, 2013
pitbull isnt even american like gtfo off the stage
— TAY WILL SLAY (@xswiftiesx13) November 25, 2013
this is why pitbull shouldnt host any awards show he speaks spanish half of the time
— erin (@teenagezap) November 25, 2013
And Pitbull wasn’t the only Latino subject to these kinds of tweets: Jennifer Lopez performed a high-wattage Spanish-language tribute to Cuban salsa icon Celia Cruz – a medley of “Quimbara,” “La vida es un carnaval” and “Bemba Colorá” “that was disparaged on Twitter for similar reasons.
J-Lo is smokin but aren’t we in America?…I don’t speak Spanish. #AMAs
— Adam Koballa (@Adam_Koballa) November 25, 2013
— capricorn1226 (@capricorn1226) November 25, 2013
— T James (@5TJames5) November 25, 2013
If this is the American Music Awards, why did JLo just sing in Spanish? 🙊 #AMAs
— Brianna Schroeder (@bbschroeder) November 25, 2013
JLo, I get enough spanish in class. You can stop now… #AMAs
— Raychael Vashawn (@RM_Vachon) November 25, 2013
I thought it was the American Music Awards, why is Jlo singing in Spanish?!?! #AMAs
— Anthony Thompson Sr (@anthonysuede) November 25, 2013
Even E! News added to the criticism of Lopez’s performance – never mind that the 44-year-old’s tribute was nearly flawless— tweeting “Nice to see they’re previewing the ‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ musical at the #AMAs tonight.”
The tweet generated hundreds of responses from Latino viewers at home, who were quick to defend Lopez’s performance.
— Bianca Perez (@ThisIsBiancaP) November 25, 2013
— Marie (@mrs_marie_d) November 25, 2013
— Angelica Celaya (@AngelicaCelaya) November 25, 2013
— Natalie Asorey (@NatalieAsorey) November 25, 2013
E! News has yet to respond to NBC Latino’s request for comment regarding the tweet, which has since been deleted.
Not even mad that this isn’t American because its JLo
— Megan✞∞ (@Meggss_e) November 25, 2013
Pitbull and Lopez weren’t the only Latin artists to take the stage. Christina Aguilera joined songwriting duo A Great Big World in the ballad “Say Something.”
And being an awards show, there were plenty of awards doled out. Taylor Swift took home her record 14th AMA, edging out Bruno Mars for “Artist of the Year.” Other big winners included Ariana Grande for “New Artist of the Year” and Justin Timberlake (“Favorite Male Artist, Soul/R&B” and “Favorite Male Artist, Pop/Rock”).
Yet on stage, it was clear who were the real winners: Latinos. From Marc Anthony’s award for “Favorite Artist, Latin” to presenters Daisy Fuentes and Naya Rivera, it was an evening that may have celebrated American music – but with a decidedly Latin twist.