Latin pop has US grooving more and more in Spanish

Just two years after the lilting mega-hit “Despacito” captivated the globe, Latin stars are cementing their place in the US mainstream, moving beyond scoring a one-off smash to headline festivals and permeate the charts.

Latin pop has US grooving more and more in Spanish
Spanish flamenco renegade Rosalia and Colombian singer J Balvin perform their joint hit 'Con Altura' at Coachella.
An unprecedented number of Spanish-language acts are performing at this year’s Coachella festival, where a second weekend of shows began Friday—a sure-fire sign of their mounting influence in a country where 41 million people claim Spanish as their mother tongue.

They are not just guests of top-billed acts or appearing on lesser stages—stars like reggaeton revolutionary J Balvin and Puerto Rican trap artist Bad Bunny are winning key time slots on their own.

And they are singing in Spanish, eschewing the “crossover” label often slapped on their A-list predecessors like Ricky Martin, Shakira, and Gloria Estefan. 

Bad Bunny, the 25-year-old face of Latin trap, a genre that fuses reggaeton with elements of hip hop from the US south, lit up Coachella’s top stage during week one.

“I’m very proud of what I represent, of the Latino community that has come far speaking the language they speak,” he said in Spanish to the throng gathered to see him.

Colombia’s J Balvin brought his unique version of reggaeton -- a massively popular Puerto Rican-born amalgam of Caribbean beats and hip-hop influences -- to the California festival’s main stage, the genre’s first-ever full showcase there.

“It took 15 years for reggaeton to get to Coachella. We are here!” the boundary-pusher shouted to launch his history-making performance, as the crowd vibed and waved flags repping countries from throughout Latin America.

In another landmark moment, the 33-year-old Balvin will be headline Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival in August, becoming the first Spanish-language act to nab one of the coveted spots.

Meanwhile, many experts attribute the US Latin music industry’s rapid growth to a parallel streaming explosion. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Latin music saw its second consecutive year of double-digit growth stateside in 2018, jumping 18 percent from the year prior to rake in $413 million.

Paid subscription platforms like Spotify’s premium service meanwhile saw nearly 50 percent growth in revenues. 

Topics: Despacito , Coachella festival , J Balvin , Bad Bunny , Ricky Martin ,  Shakira , Gloria Estefan
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