By Coco Chica, March 23, 2021
You get in your car and turn on the stereo. Suddenly, “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee starts playing.
You don’t know what the words mean or what they’re saying, but you’re moved by the melody and beat that carry the song. You now have an interest for something new, unknown and filled with a culture breaking boundaries in the music industry.
Before blowing up globally, it was uncommon to see any of my friends or anyone who did not speak Spanish or belong to the Hispanic community listen to a song of this genre on their own, let alone show any interest to something they didn’t understand.
As more Spanish-language artists top the charts and are featured in today’s popular media and society through billboards, nightclubs and the radio, their music started grabbing the attention of those unfamiliar with it.
Reggaeton has managed to appeal to much of the young American population as it shares many stylistic elements with American pop music: auto tune, rapping and similar beats. Today, we see big artists like J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Maluma and more winning awards, topping charts, collaborating with American artists, selling out shows, and influencing the fashion industry.
Although the language and culture are unknown to a large majority of listeners, people around the globe are dancing and moving to the diverse rhythm and upbeat sounds provided by these Spanish artists.
Surrounding this new and popular genre across the world, it’s important to know its origins and what makes it, according to Billboard, today’s third most listened genre in the world — surpassing industry giants such as country and EDM.
Perhaps it’s the growing immigrant population or because of its semblance to American pop music, but this genre is here to stay.
Originating in Latin America, reggaeton is a crucial form of expression for the Latin culture’s identity and pride. Its extensive audiences in its own continent, the Caribbean, and the United States’ predominantly Hispanic states have helped the genre grow exponentially.
Starting by making a name for themselves in their respective country, the recognition and buzz Spanish artists have created has given them a solid fan base to push boundaries past their continent and make their sound heard across the world.
It’s almost impossible to have a conversation in today’s age of music without mentioning the popularity of this genre across the United States. Everywhere you go, the sound of today’s biggest names can be heard collaborating with a Spanish artist. Many seek to expand their fanbase by doing so and show try new out of their comfort zone.
Some even speak a new tongue when collaborating with international artists of this genre.
Puerto Rican superstar, Bad Bunny, was able to convince acclaimed hip-hop artist Drake to sing in another language for their 2018 release “MIA.“
The song saw Drake take on the challenge of performing this hit in Spanish, a language previously unheard in his discography.
The featured collaboration earned worldwide attention placing the song in the Top 100 Billboard for 28 weeks straight amongst other hits such as “I Like It” and “Despacito“.
You can’t help but sing these songs in your head as you read those names.
The rapid success in collaborations between cross-genre artists is now more common than ever.
The Weeknd’s hit “Blinding Lights” racked up a total of 1.6 billion streams in 2020, making it one of the most streamed songs of the past year.
Spanish artist Rosalia quickly jumped on the remix, bringing her voice to push the boundaries to Latin cultures of the already established hit and expanded the streamed numbers by almost half.
J Balvin’s “Mi Gente” took the world by storm when it was released in 2017. The song earned enormous streaming numbers and views on YouTube sitting at 2.8 billion views today. The hit grasped the attention of the queen of pop herself, Beyonce, who jumped on the remix bringing in a new set of fans to the genre.
With a growing Hispanic population in the country, these artists are bound to become integral parts of the American music scene.
The genre’s audience continues to stretch with its powerful sound that is capturing the attention of music fans everywhere — a genre that can be heard everywhere and anywhere and its takeover across the globe has only just begun.
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