Latin Crossover Becomes Latin Takeover

Katy Perry photo by John Shearer, Daddy Yankee photo by Jason Koerner

Crossover tracks with pop and Latin artists started long before Justin Bieber did it, but mainstream America did not know how powerful collaborations could be until “Despacito” took over, not only the nation, but the world.

The snowball actually began 19 years ago when the Latin Grammys debuted, creating a prestigious award show dedicated to an entire other community. The ball has rolled ever since, proving that the Latin community has had prominence for some time now in the music industry.

According to Rolling Stone, “between 2016 and 2017, the number of Spanish-language entries on the Hot 100 jumped from a mere four to 19,” and pop and R&B artists are taking notice.

More and more household names are adding Spanish-speaker to their resume and it’s a bold yet smart move.

There are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US, with 350 million native speakers worldwide. That’s a market the U.S. music industry is not going to overlook and they haven’t with hit after hit in 2018 and 2019 so far.

Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello are just two examples of women who have proudly represented their Hispanic backgrounds in the most recent years even though they both started their careers in pop. Not saying that they did not acknowledge it before, but rather embracing it on more public platforms. Gomez resurfaced in the music scene by being featured in “Taki Taki” and is now the main hook to “I Can’t Get Enough.”

Whereas headlining artists like Beyonce and Drake, who really didn’t need to crossover to other genres are adding themselves to they list with club hits like J Balvin and Willy William‘s “Mi Gente” and “Mia” by Bad Bunny. They cashed in on the latest trend of being featured on a Latin track, creeping them into the top 10 on the Billboard Top 100 list. Not to mention, both “Mi Gente” and “Despacito” made Billboard history when they became the first “two non-English-language songs to rank in the top 10 concurrently,” with “Mi Gente” at No. 3 and “Despacito” at No. 9. These decisions aren’t by accident and the everyday listener is eating it up.

Then you have a veteran artist like Will Smith who hasn’t had a song solely in English in 14 years and has only collaborated with Spanish-speaking singers since. He has done three collaborations since 2015 with only Latin artists; “Fiesta” with Bomba Estéreo, “Live it up” with Nicky Jam and era istrefi and his most recent, “Está Rico” with Marc Anthony and Bad Bunny.

The latest hit by Katy Perry just feels like she’s hopping on the bandwagon at this point, but with mainstream listeners thriving on these collaborations, it will become just as successful as any of these other duo tracks. Plus, she snagged reggaeton artist, Daddy Yankee, who has been around long before her debut hit “I Kissed a Girl,” for her collaboration.

The real question that’s raised at this point is–who’s next?

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