in 2021 Latin music casts a massive influence over pop culture. Behind country, pop, rock, and rap, it is the 5th most listened-to genre in the US. With rock’s audience now settled on appreciating ‘the classics’ and country remaining characteristically conservative, Latin acts sit alongside pop and rap stars at the cultural vanguard.
Latin music’s cultural dominance
What sets Latin music apart from even pop and rap is the rate at which its popularity is growing. The coronavirus pandemic has been crucial for acts such as Rauw Alejandro to break through to an international audience. While other artists laid off releasing new music, Latin artists have been pushing ahead.
“The beginning of the pandemic raised a level of uncertainty for upcoming releases and production of new music,” Sony Music’s US Latin Division President Alex Gallardo has shared. “However, as always, the Latino artistic community persevered and established innovative ways to create new content and connect with their audience. Even during adverse circumstances, the Latin industry has grown and developed a greater space in the global environment.”
In countries with smaller Spanish-speaking communities (like Australia), the enormous popularity of the genre can seem invisible. Apart from high-profile collaborations, outside of names such as Bad Bunny, Karol G, J Balvin, and Rosalia, many of the genre’s most popular artists fail to strike recognition with English-speaking markets outside of the US. Which can feel baffling given the genre’s colossal reach and size.
Rauw Alejandro, for example, currently has the second most-listened-to song in the world on Spotify. While Alejandro’s lyrics on viral single ‘Todo de Ti’ are not immediately discernable it is one of the most musically exciting tracks of 2021. As the single suggests, Latin is not an insular genre. It draws from pop, R&B, indie, and hip hop to catch and keep the excitement.
Who is Rauw Alejandro? The basics of his story are this. He is a Puerto Rican act. Musically he has been active since 2016. He loves soccer. With an injury closing the door to his sporting aspirations he turned to music. Rauw can dance. His greatest impact however is his recordings. He cites Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Ricky Martin amongst his influences.
Alejandro’s sizable following may, again, be invisible to a non-Latin listenership bar for his collaboration ‘Bailia Conmigo’ with Selena Gomez earlier this year. Gomez, alongside Billie Eilish and Travis Scott, is one of many English-speaking recording artists who have made forays into Latin music in the past year. While many established pop stars have tried to flirt with the genre’s massive market, they struggle to outdo insiders like Rauw Alejandro.
A simple burst of joy
The spirit of any given era, not to mention its best music, sits with certain artists and genres. Right now pop, rap, and Latin express the energy of the times. With Latin is a neon glow, fast-paced music, and reliably hi-energy sound have captured a large part of the world’s imagination. To ignore this music based on the language barrier is to be missing the fun. Fans of pure pop music cannot fail to acknowledge songs like Rauw Alejandro’s compact tune deserve their proper praise.