Bad Bunny Addresses Grammys Captioning Controversy, Album of the Year Loss: “I Sing for Those Who Want to Listen to Me”

Bad Bunny admits that he initially saw the Grammys live captioning controversy involving his performance as “normal” before questioning “why don’t they have someone” who could caption his song in Spanish.

The award-winning Puerto Rican rapper, singer and songwriter who has regularly broken industry records and global barriers with his Spanish-language music has opened up to Vanity Fair about his experience at this year’s Grammys, where his performance was featured alongside offensively unspecific captioning for the telecast.

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As he performed a melody of his hits like “El Apagón” and “Después de la Playa” during the Recording Academy’s 2023 show, his performance was live captioned as “singing in non-English.” While Spanish language closed captioning was added for on-demand Paramount+ streams, the live telecast was derided by Spanish-language viewers and by those in the Deaf community who rely on captions throughout the show.

It also garnered a response from U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia, who wrote to CBS earlier about the captioning errors. In its own response, CBS and its president and CEO George Cheeks took “full responsibility” for the incident, which also took place as Bad Bunny accepted an award, with Cheeks indicating that the network was reviewing its entire live captioning process.

For the rapper, whose birth name is Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, the incident was “so fucked up.”

“It’s ugly to say that I saw it as normal. Then it was like, wow, wait a minute, what the hell? Why don’t they have someone? Knowing that I was going to be there….” he said, before dismissing the action. “I sing for those who want to listen to me and those who understand me.”

Bad Bunny also opened up about his Album of the Year loss, which was met with criticism from fans after Harry Styles not only beat out the Puerto Rican rapper, but Beyoncé, Adele, Kendrick Lamar, and others. The defense of Un Verano Sin Ti against Styles’ Harry’s House win has given the rapper pause.

“Maybe they weren’t ready for a Spanish-language album to win the big prize,” he said. “I didn’t even feel like [album of the year] had been stolen from me until the media started saying [it] and I saw that everybody thought I deserved the prize and everybody thought it was a robbery…. That’s when they kind of convinced me and I said, ‘Well, yes, it was a robbery then.'”

During the cover story interview, Bad Bunny — who isn’t fluent in English — also addressed why he’s so adamant about keeping his music in Spanish, even as his English-language fan base grows. While he will sing in English with the right collaborator, “I am never going to do it just because someone says I need to do it to reach a certain audience.”

“It’s not like I hate the idea” of performing in English, he added. “It’s just that I feel more comfortable in my own language. I think in Spanish, I feel in Spanish, I eat in Spanish, I sing in Spanish.”

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