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Here’s what’s going on: A lot of people find Justin Bieber singing the song Despacito intoxicating and for most, the phenomenon is confusing. The first few weeks the song was out, I noticed girls all over Twitter were gushing over this sultry remix to Luis Fonsi’s original version. The sensation of having Despacito on repeat is equivalent to people experiencing queso for the first time.
Recently, after my brother in law belted it out throughout an entire Sunday (off key), I realized the latin-pop appeal is an epidemic beyond gender and age. Sitting at #1 on every chart right now, Despacito is a global unifier. This is the first Spanish song since the Macarena that topped all global charts. I don’t think they’re capitalizing on a movement but I do appreciate the appeal amidst anti-immigrant, inflammatory remarks in America. Even if you don’t want to consider the political connotations, isn’t this all better than more songs to dump into EDM vacuum we’re all suffocating in? I'll take anything that means hearing less Chainsmokers.
To explain why I care/love what's happening, I have to go back to 10th grade me. In 2006, I pulled up to school for summer classes blasting Pitbull. This is before self-proclaimed Mr. Worldwide started churning out formulaic, club bangers. I was a closet reggaeton lover. I’m not sure my closest friends even knew how many CD’s were purposely unmarked. The resurgence of the genre in America carries nostalgic weight.
When I think of latin-pop’s appeal, one song rules this realm: Danza Kuduro by Don Omar. People everywhere, even after seven years since its debut, are still dancing to this song. Because of the song Gasolina, we all know Daddy Yankee. Senor Yankee no Doodle is now an influencer; similar to Lil’ Jon who just cameos in a song to instantly catapult it up the pop charts.
There’s something about the guys and gals in the Latin-tropi-pop world with their perfectly shaped eyebrows, serious faces, and semi-desirable tattoos.
Genre/artist crossovers are getting everyone onto this train: Bieber propelled Luis Fontes, J Balvin did a remix to Beiber's Sorry, Pharrell in J Balvin’s Safari... this might seem meaningless now but you’ll hear one of them on the dancefloor of the next wedding you attend.
The Latin-pop trend reminds us how we’re all more similar than different. Artists from Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, etc are singing in Spanish and inspiring us to relearn where these countries even are on a map (still not sure how our American education system has made most of us geographically handicap). The language barrier doesn’t matter: we all share the common interest for songs about love, heartbreak, and luxury goods.
Anyone new to this genre, I want to welcome you and your dance moves. We can thank Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, and Ricky Martin for being the bridge to the rest of the world and other mainstream latin stars.
I’m not an authority on this genre but if you need some names to get started and keep up, here’s who’s dominating the charts: