As I am abroad and have had the opportunity to travel around Europe and the Middle East, it’s been impossible to deny the appearingly universal obsession with reggaeton music. There’s something distinctive about it that gets people of all languages and cultures off of their feet.
“Music has the role of recognizing and including us, cultures and languages allow us to connect … in the end we are made of the same thing,” says Carlos Vives, a Colombian artist who is scheduled to soon release a new documentary about the Colombian sound. What Vives says is none other than the truth: Global music statistics and trends can truly make a statement about the world, due to the way in which music inherently transcends language and societal norms.
Though rappers and trappers have been dominating music platforms these days, another seemingly less discussed genre has catapulted up the charts and is making us move. Latin music has been on fire, having risen from only three songs out of the top 100 list to now occupying an explosive one-third of the artists in YouTube’s Billion Views Club.
Historically, Latin pop equaled heavy emotional ballads, which, though deeply cathartic and meaningful for Spanish speakers, lacked global appeal as a genre. Only danceable tracks broke the universal barrier, a la Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” and Juanes’ “La Camisa Negra.” These hits were distinct and fun, making it to the hottest parties and clubs all over the world. But they were few and far between.
Enter reggaeton, uber-danceable Latin with a pop twist, and everyone is on their feet. No need to explain this to Pedro Capó. The Puerto Rican musician-turned-actor made his comeback to music with his single “Calma,” landing him almost 6 million views on YouTube with Farruko joining in on the remix. Capó is a third-generation musician — the son and grandson of two men who left a major stamp on Latin music through singing and songwriting — and it’s more than apparent that music is in his DNA. He picked up the guitar at an exceedingly early age and was invited frequently by his father to brainstorm lyrics. “I like to play with different genres. I love rock, Latin rhythms, Caribbean rhythms, salsa, reggae . . . I don’t have limits,” Capó adds about his music.
Prior to “Calma,” Capó won a Latin Grammy Award in the Best Long Form Music Video category for his “Pedro Capó: En Letra de Otro.” Further, in 2017, Capó released his fourth studio album En Letra de Otro under Sony Latin, to which he is signed. Now, “Calma” tops the charts in countries including Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala, in addition to receiving Platinum certifications in Italy, Spain, Mexico and the United States (twice). It’s certainly safe to say that the whole world is in full support of Capó’s comeback.
While ultra-danceable, vibeable beats like Capó’s “Calma” makes it clear as to why the whole world is reveling in the reggaeton trend, there is no doubt that there are other factors which have buttressed this rocketing rise of Latin music. Accessibility through streaming platforms has certainly made an impact, as the global reach of platforms like Spotify and YouTube has enabled more and more Latin tracks to permeate the height of streaming charts. Some say, however, that the pivotal factor in the rise has been collaborations, both between Latin artists and between Latin and mainstream musicians. Illustratively, when Justin Bieber got on the already popular track Despacito, the tune skyrocketed to number one.
Even before its unprecedented rise in the global charts, boasting celebrity acts like Drake and Cardi B, Latin music has always been synonymous with romance, soul, esprit and downright good fun (and “good fun” transcends pretty much every cultural limitation). This hot addition to the current musical landscape adds an important alternative to what has become the more typical pop music, it will be exciting to see this evolve even more expansively.
Juliette Rolnick is junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Eyes Wide Shut runs alternate Thursdays this semester.