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“Muchas gracias,” Colombian superstar Shakira yelled to a crowd of over 62,000 people at this year’s Super Bowl in Miami. “Thank you so much,” reiterated her halftime co-headliner, Jennifer Lopez, who proudly wore a Puerto Rican flag in front of the 104 million viewers who tuned in. The women’s Halftime Show was filled with hits in English and Spanish at one of the most American events in existence. Building upon the momentum Latin music has received around the globe in the past few years, Shakira and J.Lo scored a touchdown for Latinx visibility entering the new year and new decade.
Latin music has always been part of the fabric of the US, whether it was Mexican-American rock star Ritchie Valens taking his spin on “La Bamba” to No. 22 on Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100 in 1959 or Spanish duo Los del Río’s “Macarena” dance topping that same chart for 14 weeks in 1997. There was a point afterword where pop stars like Puerto Rico’s Ricky Martin, Spain’s Enrique Iglesias, and Shakira were releasing music in English as a means to crossover to the US market. (In a full-circle moment, Martin and Iglesias will co-headline a tour in the fall with support from Colombian heartthrob Sebastián Yatra.)
(Buy: Tickets to Upcoming Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias Shows)
The rise of reggaeton in the mid-2000s with Puerto Rican acts like Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Tego Calderón was a precursor to Latin music’s success without needing to be translated into English. Into the last decade, reggaeton cultivated future stars, particularly in Colombia, like J Balvin, Maluma, and Karol G, who were able to thrive following the genre’s second wind in 2017 thanks to Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s worldwide No. 1 “Despacito”.
Whereas “Despacito” could’ve been a one-off moment, Latinx artists are continuing to captivate global audiences with J Balvin and French DJ Willy William teaming up for “Mi Gente” (which later attracted Beyoncé for a remix) and Dominican-American rapper Cardi B linking up with Balvin and Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny on a new version of “I Like It Like That” that topped the Hot 100 chart. Not only are there more ears and eyes paying attention to Latin music than ever, but they are also putting down money for tickets to see Balvin, Maluma, and Puerto Rican singer Ozuna revisit the same arenas with multiple sell-out tours.
The beauty of Latin music being widely recognized is the recognition of artists throughout Latin America and the US making different types of music. Latin trap music recently emerged from Puerto Rico, led by Bad Bunny and Anuel AA, who were both able to launch their first US tours in arenas. Mexican corridos are becoming a chart presence again thanks to urban acts like Natanael Cano, Fuerza Regida, and T3R Elemento bringing new experiences to the age-old genre. Outside of the Latinx diaspora, flamenco is getting love with Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía’s interesting take on the sound that saw her nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammy Awards.
The upcoming tours by Dominican-American pop star Prince Royce and Latinx boy band CNCO are seeing them move into arenas for the first time while bachata icons Aventura, led by Romeo Santos, are currently on a sell-out reunion run across the country. In December 2019, Billboard reported Latin music in the US as the fourth most-streamed genre on DSPs like Spotify and third for on-demand video streams in places like YouTube. Latin music is pop music now, so there’s no need to draw a distinction between the two. Here are 10 artists that will keep the Latin music movement going strong this year.
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Bachata group Aventura, led by last decade’s best-selling Latin artist, Romeo Santos, is back in action after going on a hiatus in 2011. Save for a few one-off performances, the band formally reunited last year for the sensual “Inmortal” single on Santos’ Utopía album. Fortunately, that collaboration led to a full-fledged arena tour this year where the guys are revisiting their hits from the 2000s. The question remains if more will happen with Aventura after the tour, but for now, fans can relive their, as Romeo says, “so nasty” memories with the band. Get your tickets here.
Though J Balvin might seem like a recent Latinx phenomenon, the rapper from Medellín, Colombia, has been hard at work on music since breaking through with 2013’s La Familia album. His follow-up, 2016’s Energía, saw him debut on the all-genre Hot 100 chart with “Ginza”, which was a rare feat at the time for a Spanish-language song. With Latin music’s heightened visibility, Balvin put on spectacular, cartoon-like shows for 2018’s Vibras and last year’s Oasis collaboration with Bad Bunny. Expect all eyes to stay on him when his rainbow-themed Colores arrives next month. Also expect plenty of chances to see Balvin live in the months to follow. Check for live updates here.
One Direction passed down the boy band baton to CNCO the night the group was put together by former Menudo member Ricky Martin on La Banda, a reality TV competition, in late 2015. Since then, Ecuador’s Christopher Vélez, Dominican Republic’s Richard Camacho, Cuba’s Erick Brian Colón, Puerto Rico’s Zabdiel de Jesús, and Mexican-American singer Joel Pimentel have captivated audiences across the globe with their Latin pop bops, reggaeton bangers, and heartfelt ballads in both Spanish and English. Next month, the guys’ third album will arrive ahead of their “Press Start” arena tour. Pick up tickets here.
Like J Balvin, Karol G hails from Medellín, Colombia, and she spent most of the last decade rising through the ranks in reggaeton music. She received her first big breakthrough in 2017 with her debut album, Unstoppable, which featured #GirlPower stamped on it, flexing her presence and perspective in a male-dominated genre. Karol’s Ocean album dropped last May and showed more versatility to the artistry. She rounded out the year with “Tusa”, a collaboration with Nicki Minaj that became the first song by two women to top Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. Check for Karol G tickets here.
Following reggaeton and Latin trap, the next wave of música urbana emerging is dembow, a genre from the Dominican Republic. El Alfa, a singer and rapper from Santo Domingo, is leading the charge. He’s been tapped by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and the Diplo-led Major Lazer for collaborations. The latter worked with him on “Que Calor” with J Balvin, a song that Balvin performed a snippet of at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Most recently, Fast & Furious 9 star Vin Diesel jumped on a remix of El Alfa’s “Coronao Now”.
The traditional Mexican corridos are making a comeback thanks to a new generation of artists putting a hip-hop twist on them. Instead of just reflecting life in Mexico, the corridos tumbados, or trap corridos, are speaking to Gen-Z experience on both sides of the border. Eighteen-year-old Natanael Cano from Sonora, Mexico, is leading the pack with party anthems like the slick “El Drip” and “El De La Codeína”, an ode to lean with his labelmates Herencia de Patrones. Last year, Bad Bunny jumped on a remix of Cano’s “Soy El Diablo”.
After penning hits for other artists, singer-songwriter Sech decided to release music under his own name. Reggaeton music is linked to Puerto Rico, but it’s also rooted in Panama where Afro-Latinx artists paved the way. Sech is from Panama and his breakthrough last year with the single “Otro Trago” reaching the top 40 of the Hot 100 chart was seen as win for his country’s oft-forgotten contributions to the genre. His beautiful blend of reggaeton and R&B music is unique to his album Sueños, which he will tour in the US this month. Check for tickets here.
Mexican superstar Carlos Rivera is bringing his “Guerra World Tour” — going on two years strong — back to the U this summer. Last July, he celebrated 15 years in the music industry since winning the reality TV competition La Academia. The versatile singer is most known for his ballads and bops in Latin pop, but he’s also ventured into proudly Mexican genres like mariachi (on Disney’s Coco soundtrack) and banda and timelier ones like reggaeton. The tour named after Rivera’s 2018 album, Guerra, or War, sees him lead a revolution of love and hip-shaking onstage. Check for tickets here.
Brazil’s Anitta spent the past decade building her career up from local sensation to global music superstar. Her music videos have amassed millions of views with viral-like success. She is a multilingual threat in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Following collaborations with admirers of hers from J Balvin and Major Lazer to Alesso and Madonna, she released her breakthrough album, Kisses, last year. More artists across different genres like Snoop Dogg, Prince Royce, Becky G, and Swae Lee feature on that record. Next up, Anitta will perform at this year’s Coachella music festival. Check for tickets here.
Mau y Ricky
Coming out of the shadow of their dad Ricardo Montaner, Venezuelan-born duo Mau y Ricky have made a name for themselves as in-demand songwriters and collaborators. In January alone, they’ve released songs with Mexican icon Thalía, Argentine pop princess Tini Stoessel, and Karol G producer Ovy on the Drums. Mau y Ricky helped pen the 13 x platinum “Sin Pijama” by Becky G and Natti Natasha with their frequent co-writer, Colombian singer-songwriter Camilo Echeverry. With their debut album, Para Aventuras y Curiosidades, out now, expect to see them on the road soon. Get tickets here.