You may have heard of it, but this long-running weekly column is about to go monthly. While I’m happy to mix my contributions to this site, I certainly couldn’t let a pop column pivot take place without a long overdue tribute to Bad Bunny, who arguably had the most successful year of the pop so far. In fact, last week Billboard announced that the Latin trap/reggaeton innovator’s 2022 album, A summer without youovertook the other time unassailable Charm soundtrack as the most popular album of the year in the United States. Also last week, former President Obama added Bad Bunny and Bomba Estereo’s “Ojitos Lindos” to his summer 2022 playlist. Not bad for a start, and the rabbit hole goes way beyond that.
Yes, an Obama co-sign only scratches the surface of everything Bad Bunny (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) has accomplished, both in 2022 and since finding international success about a year ago. half decade. Bad Bunny stars in a pro-wrestling Marvel superhero movie (something about a Spider-Man antagonist; I’m seriously losing interest in the ever-expanding Marvelverse). He fights Brad Pitt in the highly publicized High-speed train. . . . I joined Rosalia on Saturday Night Live. In 2020, Bad Bunny became the first artist to have an album entirely in Spanish (The Last World Tour) topped the Billboard 200. Oh, and that’s okay, but he was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2021.
As expected, A summer without you (A summer without you) also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and had the biggest week of streaming for any Latin album in history. Last week the album became the first since Adele’s 2015 blockbuster 25 move over 100,000 equivalent album units in its first 11 weeks. Yesterday he recorded his seventh non-consecutive week at No. 1.
In terms of extremely positive stats, Bad Bunny has them. And for very good reason: in addition to making really, really ridiculously catchy pop music, Bad Bunny — and A summer without you in particular — is representative of a historical moment steeped in cognitive dissonance. For one thing, in 2022, Latin pop continues to reign supreme on the charts, and Spanish performers really don’t need to record in English to see crossover success. At the same time, America’s Latinx community — which is large and made up of many cultures and traditions — risks being reduced to San Antonio’s “breakfast tacos” by American politicians. (Technically Jill Biden in this case, but this poorly worded statement is reminiscent of when Tr*mp posed with a taco bowl.) In other words, the Spanish-speaking community makes up about 13.5% of the US population, and yet when a stadium-filling, world-obsessed artist like Bad Bunny chooses not to sing in English, it’s still considered groundbreaking.
On the other hand, the cultural mix is top of the list for Bad Bunny on the beach-playlist-ready A summer without you. On the release of his fourth solo album, Bad Bunny sat down for a deep-dive profile on GQ where he talked about his costume for the 2022 Met Gala. His rendition of the amorphous-sounding theme “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” was to select a look inspired by Latin America. “Because it’s America too,” he says. This is where Bad Bunny’s whole artistic philosophy resides and arguably explains its widespread appeal. He’s proudly Latin (originally from Puerto Rico) but isn’t held back by boarders, sound or otherwise; A summer without you was partially recorded in the Dominican Republic and offers a wide selection of sounds, drawing from reggaeton, reggae, cumbia, Caribbean (bomba, mambo, bachata), dancehall, dance-pop and techno. The best part? It’s all channeled through Bunny’s futuristic vision. More, A summer without you is simply fun.
I always say (mainly to my husband, who is contractually bound to listen to me theorize about pop music when I’m not here) that it takes a balance of elements to produce a global pop star: Obviously, it takes some basic talents, but it can’t go anywhere in a vacuum. It’s a mix of practice and creativity. You need a listening ear, strong industry connections, some understanding of social media, in-person charisma, personal style – and you need to make it all easy. Even accidental. And once you get to the top (wherever the top looks like you), try not to get complacent. “Maybe for some people it’s different in that the higher they go, the less pressure they feel, because maybe they’re convinced that whatever they do is going to be a success,” Bad Bunny said. . QG. “But I’m the opposite – the more viewership I get, the higher I go, the more pressure I feel to keep going. Sometimes I can’t sleep thinking about it. I go days without sleep.
As its international fame exploded over the past six years, Bad Bunny expanded its subgenres without giving in to the alleged pressure to sing in English. Every guest on A summer without you has a Latin background: reggaeton duo Chencho Corleone, rapper Jhay Cortez, Tony Dize and Rauw Alejandro (all Puerto Rican), Bomba Estéreo (Colombian) and Buscabulla (based in New York but originally from Puerto Rico), and the Marías, an indie-pop group from Los Angeles who sings in Spanish and English. Bad Bunny has collaborated with Dua Lipa, Cardi B, and Drake, but it feels like he doesn’t do it because of numbers or necessity, but because Why not?
Bad Bunny’s genre versatility, nimble delivery, and clever wordplay have been well-documented for years, starting with X 100PREmoving through the barrel – nodding YHLQMDLGand by developing the alternative inclination The Last World Tour. On A summer without youwe get warmth – literally, because this is absolutely a summer album, and figuratively, because each song oozes emotional intimacy and introspection.
Boasting 23 tracks (the most of any Bad Bunny album), A summer without you can easily start the beach party or end it, with its easy beats, smooth synths and party horns, which appear with real crashing waves on Obama’s “Ojitos Lindos”. There’s sun-dappled joy and late-summer sadness on the bachata/tropical jam “Después de la Playa,” which is both a honking blast with eerie undertones. For example, if you move too much, you will become dehydrated, pass out, and get swept up in the waves. There’s also soothing bossa nova (“Yo No Soy Celoso”), sweaty dancehall (“Agosto”), cheerful dance-pop (“Neverita”) and grooving reggae (“Me Fui de Vacaciones”).
As Carina del Valle Schorske pointed out in a 2020 New York Times profile of Bad Bunny, “Technically, reggaeton didn’t really ‘originate’ in one place – Jamaica, Panama, and New York City were all crucial sites in its development in the early ’90s – but it has established itself as a commercial force in Puerto Rico, which is uniquely positioned to amplify diasporic music.
Obviously, borders never meant much to Bad Bunny either. In terms of music and fashion, her style is constantly evolving with each album release. The title of this album is just as amorphous. As he told Apple Music’s Ebro Darden, “I think ‘without’ [is] many things. Maybe like a person, maybe like friends, maybe like something you miss a lot in the summer. This whole album is [the muse, the inspiration comes from] all my summers. The atmosphere, the sound, even the featurings. Also, when we think of a “summer album,” we tend to think that music is only about good times: vacations, long days, tanning, swimming pools, barbecues, whatever. For Bad Bunny, however, this time of year isn’t all about one thing, feeling, person, or place. It’s for all of us, wherever we are.