S1: Hey, hit parade listeners. This is Chris, M.A.. This month’s episode was recorded from My Home Office in Brooklyn, New York, which explains the slightly different audio quality with the Corona virus pandemic and social distancing in full force. Creating this episode was a special challenge for my team. But we offer it to you in the hopes that it provides a brief respite from the extraordinary circumstances we are all facing. Music is a bomb to me in tough times, as I’m sure it is for many of you. So let’s put pandemics in their place and please enjoy this month’s episode of Hit Parade.
S2: Welcome to Hit Parade. A podcast of pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast. I’m Chris M.A. chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why Is This Song Number One series on today’s show?
S3: Maybe it seems like forever ago now, but if you watched the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl just eight weeks ago, you caught a rather culturally historic event, the first ever halftime devoted exclusively to music by Latin American performers.
S4: Led off by Colombian superstar Shakira and headlined by Puerto Rican American singer, dancer and actress Jennifer Lopez, the spectacle was a proud celebration of Latin heritage.
S5: At one point, the woman who is now mainly known as J.Lo even waved a Puerto Rican flag.
S6: Of course, the halftime performance was packed with hits.
S3: The two superstars had a wealth to draw upon, including former number ones by Shakira.
S7: Oh, baby, when you talk and by J.Lo.
S8: And even some songs that were not hits for either Lopez or Shakira.
S3: The ladies were representing for an entire Pam Latin culture.
S6: That’s a heavy responsibility to carry for a frothy televised spectacle.
S3: But Lopez and Shakira both remember how two decades ago it still seemed novel for performers of their heritage to be crossing over on the Anglophone American charts at all. Of course, it’s not like Latin crossover was invented 20 years ago, Spanish language hits have been making remarkable appearances on the American charts since the dawn of rock n roll.
S9: But as late as the mid 90s, Spanish language hits were basically treated as novelties, fun for parties or dancing, but not much more.
S3: What’s arguably changed this perception and led to a boom in Latin pop crossover on the Hot 100 came 21 years ago at the 1999 Grammy Awards.
S10: That’s when a dynamic, hip swivelling performer who got his start in a Puerto Rican boy band but had to that date never scored a Top 40 pop hit, delivered one of the most career defining award show performances of all time.
S11: Today on Hit Parade, we’ll talk about the boomlet in Latin pop crossover brought about by this dynamic young man born Enrique Martine more Alex. It was a cultural watershed, not just for Ricky Martin, but for an entire generation of musicians of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican and Colombian heritage.
S3: Ricky’s star is born moment was galvanizing, but arguably it took most of the next two decades for core Latin music to move to the center of American pop without compromising its sound or even its language. Before we get there, we’ll look back fondly at the moment when the American charts were shaking their bon-bon to a Latin beat delivered in fluent Spanglish to superstar.
S12: And that’s where your hit parade marches today. The week ending on May 8, 1999, when Ricky Martin scored his first number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with Live in La Vida Loca. Less than three months after his winning Grammy showcase, Ricky kicked off what would come to be known as Latin Danita version one point. Oh, on the American charts.
S1: In the three year history of this podcast, Hit Parade has covered a wide array of musical genres, but Latin music is more than a genre. It’s an entire universe of sounds, styles and rhythms developed over centuries and across generations of Afro-Caribbean and Iberian descendents. Even if we limited our focus to just the music, beloved by Spanish speaking Americans in the last 50 to 100 years, we couldn’t hope to cover at all. A proper survey of Latin American hit music would include such best selling styles as salsa.
S13: Call me menninga.
S14: And its cousin by chopper. Mexican ranchera.
S3: From the Portuguese speaking world of Brazil, bossa nova.
S15: Tarzan, then we assumed that.
S16: And Sumba.
S17: And from my own Cuban heritage, such styles as the song.
S7: All of these Latin genres have sold millions and form a kind of parallel hit parade hidden in plain sight.
S3: And of course, on the other side, the sounds of Latin music have also helped shape mainstream English language pop. Whether it’s the brass of a mariachi group or in dance music, the irresistible rhythm of a piano club is derived from Latin jazz and salsa.
S9: All of this we take for granted in mainstream popular music on hit parade.
S3: We tend to focus on all genre charts like the Hot 100 Songs chart or the Billboard 200 album chart. And on these surveys, the success of Spanish language music has been far more limited. Songs that are legendary in the world of Latin music have not even appeared on the U.S. flagship charts.
S6: In this episode, however, we will identify the exceptions, the Latin songs that broke through this overwhelming Anglophone tendency in U.S. pop.
S3: This is its own interesting story, one of assimilation, adaptation and pop inspiration. And it started near the dawn of rock and roll.
S10: We talked about Ritchie Valens, La Bamba in our posthumous Hits episode live in Seattle last year, born Ricardo Valens Wella to Mexican parents in California’s San Fernando Valley, Valens will, of course, always be associated with the so-called day the music died, having perished in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. But Valens also holds the distinction of scoring the first major Spanish language crossover hit of the rock era. It reached number 22 on the Hot 100 in early 1959, though Valens earned songwriting credit for his rock adaptation.
S18: La Bamba was, in fact, an old folk song, in essence an instructional dance song from the Mexican state of Vera Cruz. It dated back to at least the early 20th century and was played commonly at Mexican weddings and other celebrations.
S1: In a way, this hit by Ritchie Valens set a template for Latin crossover for the early rock era. For the next dozen years, a handful of indelible songs adapted by modern performers took on the status of Latin standards, and they would recur for decades to come. For example.
S7: One thought Madoff was an anthem in Cuba as far back as the 1920s with lyrics by Cuban poet and political figure Hossein Marthy in the 50s and 60s. One thought Šemeta was revived by American folkies like Pete Seeger. And in 1966, American easy listening vocal group The Sandpipers took the song, complete with Spanish lyrics to number nine on the Hot 100 or from Brazil. Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote a song about a beautiful 17 year old girl living in the seaside town of Ipanema, eventually recorded by American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and bossa nova pioneer Zhao Gilberto with Portuguese sung by Zhao and English lyrics sung by his wife us through digital backto The Girl from Ipanema was a global smash and a number five hit on the Hot 100 in 1964.
S1: Or from New York’s Puerto Rican or New York Rican community.
S5: Though it was only a regional hit and did not make the hot 100. I like it like that, became legendary in salsa music circles in 1967. That’s when Pete Rodriguez and his Latin jazz band recorded the brassy piano vamping track for the storied Bronx based Latin jazz label. A leg, notably in English. I like it like that was a radio smash in Rodriguez’s hometown of New York, placed in heavy rotation by disc jockey and salsa booster symphony SID.
S3: And while we’re on the topic of songs written by New York Eakins, there’s this cross-cultural classic.
S19: Written by theto Quinn thing, the Puerto Rican American pinballing king. Oh, yay. CUOMO comb-over was transformed into an electric rock jam by Mexican American guitarist Carlos Santana in 1970.
S20: Santana’s version reached number 13 on the Hot 100 in 1971. All five of these songs, La Bamba One got Amanda The Girl from Ipanema. I like it like that. And oh yeah. Ra entered the Latin crossover candidate songs that even Americans with no Latin heritage would recognize that made them touchstones to future generations of performers.
S19: Songs that offered both cultural credibility and instant familiarity keep these songs in mind because several of them will come back later in our story.
S3: Moving into the 70s and 80s, Latin music would infuse the American hit parade from time to time, but there was always an X Factor, something that made songs cross over to Anglophone audiences, especially if a song was sung in Spanish. There would have to be a meta narrative, a backstory spurring that song up the charts.
S4: For example, the Spanish group most said that Dardis represented for their home country in the 1973 edition of Euro Vision, the annual international song competition. Their single ad is to very nearly one euro vision for Spain coming in a very close second. That year. Although the song’s title translates in Spanish as it’s you. The band tried issuing it as an English language version with the unrelated title Touch the Wind.
S9: Yet American radio deejays preferred at Istoo in its original form, and the song reached number nine on the Hot 100 in March of 1974.
S3: One year later, a Mexican American singer pulled off a similarly flukey crossover BP brain.
S21: tarnow singer Freddie Fender had been skirting the borders of country music for more than a decade when he recorded a song Before the Next Teardrop Falls that had been covered by more than 20 prior country stars, including Charley Pride. No one had ever scored a big hit with the Twanging Weeper, but Fender cleverly heard a certain Tex-Mex flavor in the song. Recorded with both English and Spanish lyrics before the next Teardrop Falls was a number one pop and country smash for Freddy Fender in the spring of 1975. He scored a couple more pop hits and more than a dozen country hits, including several number ones, many with his distinctive Kahana flavor. Freddie Fender might have been an unlikely ambassador of Latin music on the country charts, but there was an even more unlikely country pop visitor., a suave heartthrob who had quietly amassed one of the biggest audiences in the world, singing mostly in Espanol.
S23: Julio Iglesias remains one of the biggest selling global musicians of all time. Like most said Dardis, he hails from Spain and even represented his homeland one year at Eurovision during the 70s. The debonair Iglesias rose to fame, singing in a variety of languages, including Italian, French, German, Portuguese and, of course, several dialects of Spanish. By 1981, he scored a number one British hit with a disco fied, mostly Spanish cover of the Cole Porter classic. Begin the big.
S24: But all of this was a warm up for Helio Iglesias most unlikely crossover of all, a pop and country smash duet with a native Texan and Nashville legend. To all the girls I’ve loved before is still treated as a punchline to an implied joke. Who are the two least likely singers ever to duet on a single, let alone a song about their collective romantic prowess? That would be Helio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, who in 1984 were each at the zenith of their respective fame.
S3: And improbable as it may seem to all the girls I’ve loved before was a smash.
S1: A number one country number five pop hit in May 1984. It powered Iglesias first mostly English album eleven hundred Bel Air place to sales of four million in the U.S. alone. It would be the only time who Leo Iglesias would break into the pop top 10, but not the last time the name Iglesias would appear there, having succeeded with this unlikely crossover. The music business spent the rest of the 1980s seeing how far Latin music could go on the American pop charts. For example, RCA Records tried to break Latin America’s biggest boy band.
S25: Menudo was arguably the 80s Latin equivalent of a K-pop band with an ever shifting roster of members, Menudo even included a young Ricky Martin Hold Me.
S3: Released during the Ricky period was one of their few English language singles, and Menudo was only single to reach the hot 100 peaking at a lowly number 62. On the other hand, a Cuban American mega combo from Miami tried their hand at English and did far better.
S26: Shake your body, baby. Do that guy. No, you can’t go Georgias up any number. Shake your body, baby. Do that. I know you think of any number.
S9: The Miami Sound Machine, led by singer Gloria Estefan and her bandleader husband Amelia, were the ultimate 80s Latin Party band comprising more than a dozen members, including a full brass section. After a half dozen Spanish language albums dating back to the late 70s, Gloria began singing in English in 1984, and by the time of 1985’s Conga, they found a remarkably authentic crossover sound that began to generate hits on Top 40 radio. But once the Miami sound machine crossed to pop radio, the stephane’s determined their future lay in showcasing Gloria’s vocals and moving toward adult contemporary ballads. Though they would continue to include uptempo Latin cuts on future albums, the stephane’s eventually replaced all of the original machine members and their albums and singles began to feature Gloria’s name alone.
S1: Still, at the same time that the Estefan’s were pivoting toward middle of the road balladry, a Mexican American band from East L.A. was scoring what remains the only all Spanish number one hit in Hot 100 history.
S27: Los Lobos recorded a cover of La Bamba for the soundtrack to the Ritchie Valens biopic of the same name.
S28: In the summer of nineteen eighty seven, it not only spent three weeks at number one in all three of those weeks, it was the most played song at U.S. Radio.
S27: That was a big deal given American Top 40 stations aversion to playing non English tracks, and La Bamba contains no English lyrics at all. Lobo’s cover even went a step further into cultural authenticity then is original version. Did they close the song playing mariachi style traditional acoustic guitars?
S29: True, this chart topping success was fueled by a hit summer movie, the critically acclaimed Los Lobos never scored a top 10 hit again. But with hindsight, Alabama’s success may have widened the lane for Latin crossover in a couple of ways.
S3: On the album chart, more artists felt brave about issuing more traditional Latin music. Later that same year, the chart topping and previously all English vocalist Linda Ronstadt got in touch with her Mexican American heritage. On the album Conciousness Demi POB today. A quiet, steady seller, Ronstadt’s conciousness eventually went double platinum, becoming the biggest selling non English language album in American record history. By the early 90s, Gloria Estefan was getting back to her own roots on the all Spanish Cuban heritage album Meet Yatta.
S6: As with Ronstadt, Esta Fons, all Spanish album went platinum and became one of her top sellers, even though its tracks did not cross over at Top 40 radio by the late 90s.
S3: The quest for Latin authenticity had even drawn in guitarist Ry Cooder, who traveled to Havana to record a combo of elderly song players that he dubbed the Buena Vista Social Club. Meanwhile, on Top 40 radio and the pop charts after La Bamba, it became more plausible to mix lyrics in Spanish or Portuguese into a mainstream pop record, though it was only a modest hit in America at the turn of the 90s. The dance and song known as LaMotta, recorded by French Brazilian group Kalma, became a global phenomenon.
S30: Sung entirely in Portuguese and fueled by a so-called forbidden dance. That was like a YouTube dance craze before YouTube. Lombardo topped charts in more than a dozen countries and was a sizable U.S. club hit. Keep that melody in mind, too, because like so many Latin crossovers in this episode, it will return closer to home in America.
S19: As hip hop began taking over the charts in the early 90s, Latin music began fusing with rap with varying degrees of street cred.
S1: Havana born rapper Mellow Man Ace broke through with the bilingual mentee Rosa, a number 14 hit in 1990 that flipped back and forth between English and Cuban accented Spanish.
S31: Right now, you just buy a straight day. You tell me sob by.
S3: One year later, an Ecuadorian American rapper decided to take the Latin Lothario persona further into comic territory.
S32: So I laugh all you want at the hair suit. Gerada with his bandana, long hair and bare chest under a leather jacket. But Rico Suave A was a huge hit, peaking at number seven on the Hot 100 in April 1991. Like Mellow Man Ace Girardeau Crawford, a Spanglish rap with tongue firmly planted in cheek biddable.
S1: Meanwhile, as West Coast hip hop rose to prominence, L.A. rappers Cypress Hill dropped their debut album in 1991 and became the first Latin American rappers to go platinum.
S3: Their self-titled debut not only included straight up gangster tracks like How I Could Just Kill a Man, but on the single Latin lingo, rappers send dog and be real traded off funky bilingual rhymes. The most remarkable Latin crossovers of the 90s, however, came not on the street corner, but in the club. The first was a sleeper hit from a one off gang of all stars.
S19: The second was one of the biggest pop hits of the decade.
S4: The blackout All Stars were a supergroup formed to record just one song, a cover of the aforementioned 1967 salsa classic. I like it like that.
S19: The phrase All Stars was no exaggeration in the Latin music universe. The members were indeed legends, including lead singer Tito Nevis, Tito Pointing, Ray Barretto, Paquito D’Rivera, Dave valentine., Grover Washington Junior and Sheila Escovedo, a.k.a. Sheila.
S4: Recorded for the soundtrack to the 1994 movie. I like it like that. The Blackout, All Stars. I Like It. Took nearly three years to break a push by New York dance music station W KATU, coupled with an appearance in a 1996 Burger King commercial, finally crossed the song over when it reached number 25 on the Hot 100 in March 1997.
S3: Pete Rodriguez’s New York Rican standard was finally an actual pop hit. But then there was that other clubs single that crossed into the Anglo pop world.
S33: Marco raynham, written and recorded by a pair of fortysomething Spaniards from just outside of Seville who called themselves Lost.
S8: Del Rio was a global phenomenon, especially after a pair of Miami deejays who were dubbed the Bayside Boys remixed the song, adding female English vocals in the name similar to I Like It Like That. The remix of Los del Rio’s Macarena took two tries to become a hit, breaking first with Miami radio listeners. Then in New York before going nationally. It helped that by the summer of 1996, the song had spawned a dance. Come on, you know how it’s done with the hands and the hips. That dance made appearances at the 1996 Olympics and even the Democratic National Convention by August of 96. The Bayside Boys remix of Macarena was on top of the Hot 100 and stayed there for 14 weeks. The top of the year when all of this crossover by Spanish language pop was in theory, softening the ground for a full on breakthrough by Latin pop stars.
S3: But here was the problem. In most cases, whether it was Girardeau, the Blackout, All Stars or Los del Rio, the hits were regarded as flukes. That’s what made the pre-mature passing of a towering figure in Mexican American music. Such a loss.
S10: Some even called her the Tanno Madonna.
S32: Selena Quintanilla, better known to her fans simply as Selena, is the ultimate what if in Latin crossover history?
S34: Years before Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez or Shakira, Selena was marked for greatness by the recording industry. She had been signed in 1989 to EMI is Latin division with a long term plan to break her in the Anglo market.
S35: In the meantime, through the late 80s and early 90s, Selena became known as the Queen of Hollywood music. Selina’s last all Spanish album, 1994’s A More Pro Hebei, though, featured a wide array of genres, including not only tadano but also R&B and hip hop influences. By 1995, the plan was for EMI to break Syleena as a multilingual multi genre crossover artist, and she began recording her first partial English album, Dreaming of You.
S34: The album was mostly finished in March 1995, when tragedy struck.
S35: Selena, age 23, was shot and killed by her fan club president Yolanda Saldivar.
S9: Syleena became not only Latin music’s martyr, but it’s near Miss Dreaming of You became the first predominantly Spanish language album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The label issued a half dozen singles from the album and it was ultimately certified Triple Platinum. It would fall to a new wave of stars to give Latin music the enduring permanent breakthrough that had eluded it through the mid 1990s and 22 years before the 2020 Super Bowl.
S3: It would take a different global sports championship to bring about that cultural catalist.
S33: When we come back, Ricky offers America the cup of life.
S36: Contrary to some American’s belief, Ricky Martin did not spring fully formed on Grammy night 1999. As I noted earlier, for five years in the late 80s, he was a member of Menudo, the ever changing Puerto Rico based Boivin.
S17: A native Puerto Rican himself born and raised in San Juan, Martin emerged as a heartthrob and breakout star in the pop group. He signed to Sony Music’s Latin Division Sony Discos at the start of the 90s while acting in sitcoms, telenovelas and for about a year. ABC a._b._c.s daytime soap opera, General Hospital. Ricky began turning out Spanish language pop for the Latin market. On the Latin charts, Ricky Martin was a fairly consistent chart presence through the first half of the 90s, largely with florid ballads, but Martin began pushing against his label’s advice to let him record uptempo material powered by more forceful Latin percussion, arguing that it would broaden his audience. Ricky’s instincts proved spot on.
S19: 1996’S Maria was not only Martin’s first global smash going top ten or even to number one in more than a half dozen countries. It even made the lower rungs of America’s flagship pop chart peaking at number 88 on the hot 100. Despite being entirely in Spanish, a Spanglish remix with just a few verse lyrics in English followed in 1997. But even U.S. listeners preferred the original version. The global breakthrough of Maria changed the trajectory of Ricky Martin’s career.
S36: It led to his highest profile showcase to date an invitation by FIFA, the International Governing Federation of Football or Soccer, to record the official theme song of the 1998 World Cup. Martin, who was recording his follow up album Velvet, jumped at FIFA’s offer, expanding on the relentlessly uptempo, proudly Latin sound of Muttiah and bringing his A-game to the task.
S19: La Copa de la Vida or the Cup of Life was performed by Ricky Martin in France’s National Stadium at the World Cup final on July 12th, 1998, seen by more than a billion viewers globally in America. The song did well enough at Spanish language radio stations to peak at number two on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart.
S36: But Sony Music knew that the track and Martin himself had greater potential later in 1998 when Martin’s album, well, they earned a Grammy nomination in the Latin pop category. Sony lobbied the Grammy producers to give Martin a performing slot on the telecast. The following February, Ricky was hardly the most hyped performer on that year’s Grammys. Superstars with multiple nominations, including Madonna, Celine Dion and Lauryn Hill were all slated to perform.
S10: But good as they were, none of them was the most talked about performer of the night. In just four minutes at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, joined by an army of dancers, backup singers, drummers and circus performers, Ricky Martin, swiveling his hips in leather pants, changed the trajectory of both his own career and Latin music itself. The key now would be capitalizing on this breakthrough.
S36: What both Maria and the Cup of Life had revealed was that Martin could translate Latin rhythms for a mainstream global pop audience traveling seamlessly between Spanish and English. The cup of Life, in particular, had been co-written by two industry veterans with Latin heritage of their own. Robbie Rosa, who had been Martin’s bandmate in Menudo. That’s Robbie singing Lead on Hold Me, by the way. And Desmond Child, the Cuban American pop rock mastermind who had written hits for Kiss, Bon Jovi. Joan Jett and Cher, Rosa and Child were asked by Team Ricky to come up with another hybrid hit that leaned more toward the English side of Spanglish.
S37: And the song they devised was A Monster, The Superstar.
S12: Black Gadsen live in La Vida Loca, the blend of languages was built right into the title was one of the fastest breaking hits of 1999, remember? To this point, Ricky Martin had never come close to the Top 40 on the Hot 100, but that changed quickly in just four weeks.
S33: Live in La Vida Loca, shot from number 54 to number thirty two to number eight to number one.
S38: And it stayed there for more than a month.
S33: The song was an encyclopedia of Latin music in just four minutes. Desmond Child later boasted that he and his arrangers grew in, quote, the kitchen sink, including the M’bala piano stylings, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms, horns and gongs, and a rock guitar line that would allow Ricky to strut, Childs said, like a Latin Elvis. He even modeled the melody after Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. The Latin cultural explosion was on. The floodgates were open. Most pop fans remember 1999 as the year of Teen Pop and TRL, as we discussed in our Britney Spears episode of Hit Parade.
S17: To be sure, Britney and the Backstreet Boys had an amazing year.
S36: But on the Hot 100, the more consistently high charting performers were all Latin stars. And after Martin, the first to benefit, had like Ricky, an actor, singer and dancer, been trying a bit of everything for the last decade.
S6: Growing up in the Bronx, a young Jennifer Lopez would dabble in anything that might one day make her famous acting, dancing, even gymnastics and track. During the early 90s, Lopez was a choreographer and a backup dancer for such acts as New Kids on the BLOCK and Janet Jackson. She danced on TV as a so-called fly girl on the Wayans Brothers sketch comedy series In Living Color. Oh, yeah. And Lopez also sang, but it was her least pursued talent prior to her mid 20s.
S3: What finally convinced Jennifer Lopez to seriously consider a full time singing career was actually an acting gig, one that had special prominence within the Latin community.
S39: Slowly being.
S7: In the 1997 biopic Selena, the late Latin superstar was played by Jennifer Lopez as an actress of Puerto Rican descent.
S3: Lopez earned scorn in certain corners of the Mexican American community for playing piano music’s most famous singer. But Lopez won acclaim for the performance, though she did not sing in the film. The warm reception for Selena convinced several in the music business, particularly Sony music executive Tommy Mottola, the man who discovered Mariah Carey, that the future J.Lo could pursue a full on pop career.
S17: In short, Jennifer Lopez would at last become a singer after she had tried and succeeded at everything else.
S32: If You Had My Love was the first single from on the six Jennifer Lopez’s debut album, it dropped the same month Ricky Martin was scaling the charts with Live in La Vida Loca. Unlike Martin, Lopez had no prior Latin pop career to fall back on. No need to transition out of Spanish language material. Her ticket would be English language pop with a nebulously Latin flavor that nebulous snus was especially true of If You Have My Love. Produced and co-written by R&B hitmaker Rodney Jerkins. The song could just as easily have been recorded by the other artists Jerkins was producing at the time, such as Brandy, Monica or Destiny’s Child. As with those hitmakers, however, if You Had My Love was a smash. Rising to number one on the Hot 100 in just five weeks, actually knocking out Martin’s live in La Vida Loca thanks to his profile in the Latin community. The song also made an appearance on the Latin Tracks chart. It only reached number 27 there, but Spanish language stations were playing it. Lopez’s success indicated that the Latin boomlet of 99 was cultural as much as musical.
S3: Having established herself, Lopez did issue somewhat more Latin flavored singles for the rest of the year, including the Latin House track.
S32: Waiting for tonight, a number eight pop number one club hit.
S19: The one two punch of Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez was like a siren song to the Latin pop world.
S36: If, as I said earlier, this was a universe of stars hiding in plain sight. By the second half of 1999, they wouldn’t be hiding from mainstream audiences anymore. For the rest of the year, the charts were awash in stars from the Latin world, who’d been working Spanish language radio for years, but now saw an opportunity to break on pop radio. At least one of these stars came equipped with both catchy songs and a famous last name.
S19: Enrique Iglesias, son of Julio Iglesias, had launched a musical career in the 90s. Totally independent of his megastar father, Enrique’s three Spanish language albums for the phono visa label had sold 14 million copies. Wow. He’d been considering a move into English language pop for some time. The breakthrough of Martin and Lopez accelerated Enrique’s plans. He signed a new deal with Interscope Records in June 1999, when the Latin crossover explosion was in full force, and it took him just a couple of months to score his first number one hit.
S10: Bailamos was like Martyn’s Live in La Vida Loca, an intentionally bilingual hit. The title was the only Spanish in it and it was written by a pair of Englishman, Paul Barry and Mark Taylor.
S40: Barry would later admit that the emphasis in the title is on the wrong syllable. Iglesias sings Bilum Moss not by Bailamos because Barry did not speak fluent Spanish. As with Ricky and J-Lo, however, the whiff of Latin flavor more than any rigorous authenticity was all it took to send Iglesias’s English language breakthrough to number one on the Hot 100.
S32: By then, another Latin veteran had dropped his English language debut.
S2: Marc Anthony was a serious star in the world of salsa, a potent singer who had broken veha freestyle and house music and then transformed himself into the heir to salsa legends like Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon, released in August of 1999. I Need to know was like a vintage Marc Anthony hit with subtitles.
S3: All the rhythm and brass of a salsa jam with English lyrics. I Need to know. Reached number three in the fall of 1999, and it was followed in early 2000 by a florid Latin flavored ballad.
S19: You Sang to me, which peaked at number to. By the way, for those who are curious, though, they both broke through on the Hot 100 in 1999. Future paramours Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were not dating.
S36: That year, they would marry five years later. The ninety nine Latin boom was even boosting veteran Latin singer songwriters who were able to write for other artists. John Secada, a Cuban American pop singer who was discovered by Emilio and Gloria Estefan, had scored a top five Latin flavored hit in 1992, called Just Another Day.
S19: Sakata hadn’t had a major pop hit in more than five years, but in 1999, he co-wrote a ballad for Ricky Martin’s English language album.
S3: She’s All I Ever Had.
S41: The official follow up single to live in La Vida Loca, reached number two in September 1999.
S40: But possibly the biggest, most improbable chart topping success of ninety nine came from a 52 year old Mexican American musical legend who’d already been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
S37: We talked about Carlos Santana extensively in our Woodstock episode of Hit Parade, including his 1999 smash Smooth, the song co-written and sung by Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas, was the lead single to Supernatural Santana’s star packed debut for Arista Records. The album, overseen by Arista mogul Clive Davis, was in the works months before the Latin pop explosion of 99. But the breakthrough of Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias only gave this song with its cha cha beat and prominent horns. Greater commercial prospects for.
S17: Smooth topped the Hot 100 in October 1999, thirty years after his Woodstock debut, Carlos Santana had his first number one hit and it stayed there a dozen weeks into 2000.
S36: Six weeks after it completed its number one run, Smooth One Record and song of the year at the Grammy Awards and Supernatural One Album of the year. Six weeks after that, Santana was back on top of the Hot 100 with a second number one hit the even more Latin flavored Maria Maria.
S17: Maria Maria spent 10 more weeks at number one, would Santana have scored to chart topping blockbuster hits on the hot one hundred and fifteen times platinum album without the ninety nine Latin explosion coming first? It’s impossible to say, but it couldn’t have hurt.
S36: By 2000, Latin boom mitha version 1.0 was starting to show some strain. The number of hits these artists generated was stunning and most had unmistakable Latin rhythms, instrumentation and flavor. But every last one of them was in English. Many had been written or produced by non-Latin collaborators who were deliberately aiming for Anglophone crossover critics and many longtime fans of Latin Pop called the wave inauthentic and watered down. And it was only starting to seem more so. In the summer of 2000, Enrique Iglesias scored a second number one hit, Be With You.
S32: That was certainly danceable, but bore little relationship to Latin music at all.
S36: Ricky Martin moved quickly in 2000 to generate a second English language LP, Sound Loaded, sold well, going double platinum, but its singles were already starting to seem like retreads, most especially its lead off track.
S19: She Bangs, which missed the top 10, peaking at number twelve.
S42: I will spare you all the version of She Bangs, sung three years later by American Idol hopeful William Hung.
S36: Throughout this multi year wave of crossover hits by Ricky, Jennifer and Enrique. One major Latin superstar, also recognizable by a single name, was waiting on the sidelines.
S43: SHARKIRA had a following in Latin music circles, arguably more impassioned than anyone’s. Like the late Syleena, the Colombian born Shakira Isabel Mubarak repoed was the queen of a well-defined Latin subgenre in her case, a blend of rock crossed with modern pop that echoed the sound of such Anglo stars as Alanis Morissette.
S19: You might say Shakira was built for crossover. In an ironic footnote, Chakiris first big break back in 1993 came at age Chilean Music Festival, where one of the judges was none other than then 20 year old former Menudo member Ricky Martin.
S40: Ricky picked the 16 year old Shakira to win the competition.
S44: She came in third.
S2: By the late 90s, SHARKIRA signed to Sonys Colombian division had sold more than 10 million El p.’s across Latin America, including her mega smashes B.S. that Cosmos and Don Day, a storm lost liberalness. Sony felt strongly enough about her crossover potential that they won her a 1999 appearance on m._t._v.’s blockbuster Acoustic Showcase Unplugged. The televised performance introduced thousands of MTV viewers to Shakira as magnetic, sensual, hip swivelling live presence.
S44: An album of this performance, Shakira. MTV Unplugged sold more than a quarter million copies in America. In2000 softening the ground for her long, just stating crossover.
S3: Chakiris first primarily English album Laundry Service was finally issued in the fall of 2001.
S29: More than two and a half years after the Ricky Martin breakthrough, even more than the other Latin crossovers, Shakira’s was carefully calibrated not to eviscerate her heritage. Its lead off single. Whenever, Wherever, co-written by veteran superstar Gloria Estefan, combined mainstream pop friendly hooks with the distinctly Colombian sounds of Andean flutes and guitar lines played on a shallow angle.
S6: Long, careful setup for Shakira’s Anglo breakthrough worked.
S40: Laundry service debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 in December 2001 and spent more than a year on the album chart going triple platinum. By 2002, SHARKIRA managed to split the difference between more overtly Latin flavored tracks like The New Wave and Tango Hybrid.
S45: Objection. Tango.
S17: And straight up pop balladry like the number nine hit underneath your clothes.
S40: With hindsight, Chakiris breakthrough marked the unofficial end of Latin boom meta version 1.0. The artists who became Hot 100 stars from 1999 to 2001 continued to spin off hits, but many veered further and further away from anything resembling Latin music from the bouncy pop of Enrique Iglesias.
S46: To the hip hop adjacent anthems of the rechristened Jayla.
S19: Ironically, the artist who retreated from Anglo pop as the first wave ended was the man who had kicked it off. Ricky Martin.
S3: In 2003, Martin issued another all Spanish album, his first in five years, and he was warmly welcomed back on the Spanish language charts, topping hot Latin tracks instantly with Karl Vess.
S29: At the time, Martin spoke about wanting to, quote, go back to my center to the beginning. Unquote. Unspoken was the fact that the glare of the mainstream pop spotlight had been more intense on Ricki than for any other Latin crossover star Save, perhaps Jennifer Lopez. Martin was still more than half a decade away from coming out as gay for the rest of the 2000s and 2010s. Ricky Martin scored more than a dozen Latin chart top 10 hits, but he never returned to the pop top 40 in a way, regardless of his personal motivations.
S40: Ricky’s return to musical roots was well-timed because in the 21st century Latin pop, even the songs that crossed over to Anglo audiences was about to go in a more authentic sounding Spanish first direction. And though Martin had nothing to do with it, the backbone of this new trend came from his homeland of Puerto Rico.
S45: It is rare that musical artists both invents the name of a genre and becomes the leader of that genre. But that is precisely what Ramone louis’ a Yallah Rodriguez a.k.a. Daddy Yankee achieved in the 2000s. Daddy Yankee coined the term reggae don for the blend of Jamaican dancehall, Spanish language, street tales and American hip hop that was exploding in Puerto Rico in the late 90s.
S36: The core element of the genre was the Dembo rhythm taken from reggae, augmented by a rap derived snare and kick drum. Daddy Yankee added the Latin suffix taun to reggae to give reggaeton its name and having coined the term. He went on to dominate the genre, scoring what is arguably still its definitive hit just a couple of years into his recording career.
S45: De Wise 2004 single Gasolina not only went top 10 or top 20 in more than a dozen countries worldwide, it also amazingly cracked the U.S. Top 40, peaking at number 32, despite featuring scarcely a word of English. It was the first fully Spanish song to crack the U.S. Top 40 since Los Lobos chart topping La Bamba in 1987.
S36: Practically simultaneously with the rise of Gasolina came another smash reggaeton, single by a rising Cuban American rapper and singer Armando Christiaan Bettis, who called himself Pitbull.
S17: Cuno was Pitbull’s ode to ample posteriors featuring rap punctuation from Atlanta Krunk King Lil Jon. It tied Daddy Yankee’s Gasolina by peaking at number 32 on the Hot 100.
S36: In 2004, the year of Reggae, Thorn’s mainstream breakthrough rappers were not the only artists drawn to the reggaeton rhythm. The following year, Shakira was planning the next move in her global chart Conquest. And once again, she wanted to play on both sides of the street.
S17: In a bold move previously attempted by the likes of Guns and Roses and Bruce Springsteen, Chakiris planned for 2005 was to come back with a pair of simultaneously conceived albums. Unlike those rock stars, however, she would issue the two albums roughly six months apart, and most ambitiously, one would be in Spanish, the other in English.
S19: Both albums would be called Oral Fixation and Volume One would be the Spanish album B has shown.
S17: Overall volume in the lead single of the first album was called La Porte Doodah, a duet about romantic torture featuring Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz and a thumping reggaeton beat in a chart run that lasted all summer long thought Tuta reached an impressive number 23 on the Hot 100 and the fetus yone all out album went gold and eventually platinum. The reason the Spanish language album had been issued first was that Team Shakira had more modest crossover commercial expectations for it.
S3: The second 2005 album, Oral Fixation Volume 2 would be Shakira’s official English language successor to laundry service, and it was widely expected to be the greater blockbuster.
S44: But that’s not how things worked out.
S25: Don’t bother. The lead single from oral fixation Volume 2 missed the top 40, peaking at number 42 by Christmas 2005.
S3: Shakira’s second English album was shaping up as a flop with the potential to not even go gold.
S32: But that’s when SHARKIRA and Sony Music pulled an ace out of their sleep’s Shakira’s biggest popchips ever. Maybe win the top.
S44: Wyclef John, formerly of rap troupe The Fugees, had recorded a song called Dance Like This for the Little Scene 2004 film Dirty Dancing Havana Nights. John felt the song had never lived up to its potential. And when in early 2006, Shakira’s label Epic Records approached him to see if he could help revive Shakira’s latest album. He proposed Remaking Dance Like This as Hips Don’t Lie, given Shakira his own lie dancing style. You might say the reboot was perfectly on brand. Reinvented with a hybrid salsa reggae song, rhythm with sampled Latin trumpets that Wyclef replicated from his prior rap hip. Deja Vu. Uptown baby. The new hips don’t lie. He was a globally minded, hip hop friendly anthem epic. Rush released the single in the spring of 2006 and even reissued the oral fixation volume to c.D to include Hips Don’t Lie. By April, the single was in the Top 40.
S19: Saving the album which leapt back into the top 10 and went platinum. She’s by June. Hips don’t lie. It was number one on the Hot 100, giving Shakira her only American pop chart topper.
S44: For the rest of her career, SHARKIRA would continue to straddle sonic borders.
S47: She would occasionally try her hand at mainstream Anglo pop like 2009’s disco fueled hit she.
S44: But Shakira’s biggest selling global single ultimately came when she, like Ricky Martin a dozen years earlier, was tapped to record a World Cup anthem.
S18: The 2010 track Walk A Walk on this Time for Africa, celebrated the first soccer final held in South Africa. It teamed Shakira with South African group Freshlyground, while the song only scraped the Top 40 in America. It topped charts in more than a dozen countries and ultimately sold 15 million copies for Africa.
S3: Jennifer Lopez, for her part, was also becoming more globally minded at the turn of the tense.
S18: Her smash hit On the floor sampled Kay Elmas 1990 dance Smash Lombardo. Remember that infectious melody? It also included rap support from Pitbull. The song reached number three on the Hot 100 in the summer of 2011 and number one on the dance club chart. Say, for his part, Pitbull had transformed himself from a reggaeton rapper to an all purpose club pop star, even when his singles featured a few words in Spanish. Their rhythms now had more to do with dance floors than street corners. He scored with 2009’s number two Hot 100 hit. I Know You Want Me K.A. Otro.
S3: And 2011’s Give Me Everything, a summer number one smash featuring singers Ne-Yo and Neyer and Dutch D.J. Afrojack.
S48: Do that.
S46: But while SHARKIRA, J-Lo and Pitbull were all attempting to keep one toe on the dance floor and one eye on the hot 100 on Spanish language stations, reggaeton was hybridizing with every Enrique Iglesias had continued pursuing pop hits as late as 2010 with solid success. But by the mid 10s, he had refocused his energies on the Spanish language radio dial, and he began scoring some of the biggest hits of his career. Enrique’s 2014 smash by Landow, not to be confused with his 1999 mostly English hit by lammas Fused a reggaeton beat with Spanish flamenco by Landow, spent 24 weeks on top of Billboard’s Latin pop airplay chart, then a record, and it even reached number twelve on the Hot 100, fueled by both digital sales and airplay on mainstream Top 40 radio stations.
S47: Indeed, the sound of Spanish language music in the 2010s was a hybrid, a combination of traditional balladry from artists like bachata singer Romeo Santos. And of course, reggae thone from rising stars like the Colombian singer who say Alvaro Osorio Balut been known to the world as Jay ballads, these twin forces, Latin balladry and reggaeton finally fused late in the decade, producing the biggest Latin crossover single of all time.
S42: louis’ phone see from San Juan, Puerto Rico was a Latin pop veteran and a sizable star on Spanish language radio.
S47: Indeed, by the mid 2010s, an entire generation of Hispanic Americans probably couldn’t remember a time he wasn’t somewhere on the airwaves. Never especially hip Fancy had been a reliable hitmaker since his career launched in the late 1990s. By the mid 2000s, FLC was largely focused on guitar based love songs such as his Latin tracks, chart topper, Nada Esparza, Siempre Day or Nothing is Forever.
S45: Yet, but sometime around 2015, Falsies got a brainstorm.
S17: What if he could fuse his guitar balladry with the thump of Latin dance music?
S36: He and fellow songwriter Erika Endor at first thought that their experimental track could be a Colombian style cumbia, but eventually they landed upon the idea of pairing their melody with the Dembo beat of reggaeton.
S17: After all, fellow Puerto Rican artist Daddy Yankee was still scoring Latin chart toppers as late as 2016.
S49: Take, take, take, take, take.
S17: In the fall of 2016, Fancy and his producers invited Daddy Yankee into the studio to record the duet.
S36: Fancy had conceived under the Spanish word for slowly, as in taking one’s time, both in love and on the dance floor.
S42: The word was this sparse seed.
S41: The seed has been busy. And then you get those.
S46: Then when the scene was released at the start of 2017, this spicy duck was an immediate smash with Latin audiences.
S47: It topped charts in about a dozen Latin American countries and it was on top of Billboard’s Hot Latin songs chart. By mid February, at this point, despacito could have wound up a hit on the order of Enrique Iglesias by Landow, a blockbuster in the Latin world. But that’s when the story took its most unexpected turn coming.
S50: That letter fuckwitted said that Sprint was wow.
S42: Long tour in Bogota, Colombia. Canadian pop megastar Justin Bieber just heard despacito and was captivated. He contacted Fancy’s management and asked if he could jump on a remake and put it on.
S51: Akino had turned into a never ending on their words alone a baby.
S42: Also making interestingly for the rest of the track, Bieber sings in phonetic Spanish despite having no Latin heritage whatsoever. While the opening English verse is incongruous and slightly hokey on the Spanish chorus, Biebers buttery vocals turned out to be ideal for Latin pop. He harmonized seamlessly with false sede guitar. Just business does, even though this is when despacito exploded in the Anglophone pop world the week the Bieber remix dropped despacito shot from number 48 to number nine on the hot 100. Within three weeks it was number one, the first primarily Spanish number one hit on the big chart since Marco Reyna 21 years earlier.
S52: Dun dun dun dun dun.
S42: True. It took the presence of an Anglophone pop star to make despacito a nationwide American hit. But here was the difference from Macarena and all of her Latin crossover hits from two decades earlier. despacito remained an overwhelmingly Spanish language song with a sound that made little compromise with American pop radio. This was not live in La Vida Loca or Bailamos, Louise Fancy and Daddy Yankee had fused their different corners of very authentic Latin music. But they did virtually nothing to reshape the songs for Justin Bieber. Indeed, it was Biebers who had to learn a bit of Spanish and adapt to the sound of the song. despacito was a watershed in Latin crossover pop. As we told you in our 2010s episode of Hit Parade, despacito was a record setter.
S47: It spent 16 weeks on top of the hot 100, tying a 21 year old record held by Mariah Carey and Boyz to Men. More important for this episode, despacito kicked off what might be called Latin Boo Meta Version 2.0.
S53: And this time, the Latin stars are compromising far less than Ricky, Enrique or J-Lo.
S19: Later in 2017, J. Valdon scored his first major crossover hit with the Willie William duet Mekhennet, already a Top 40 hit by September.
S47: The release of a remix featuring no less than Beyonce say hurdled the song to number three on the Hot 100 and some seconds when Galvin’s Rihanna, they reached this new peak.
S36: It was just two spots below the number one song, Dark Yellow by Cardi B, a rapper who was herself of Dominican and Trinidadian descent.
S18: Khadi made good on that heritage the following summer.
S44: In July of twenty eighteen, Cardi B returned to number one on the Hot 100 with. I Like It, a reboot of Pete Rodriguez’s perennial salsa classic. I like it like that. As with despacito and mewhen pay, this hit showed how far the idea of Latin crossover had come about.
S54: Dunbar me, my husband.
S55: Bang, bang, Latino. That’s because Hardy’s version of this formerly all English song was now half in Spanish. That non English content came courtesy of J. Goudreau and a 24 year old up-and-coming singer and rapper from Puerto Rico, born Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, but known to the world as bad.
S52: But there’s no deal, buddy. Go, baby, be young. A normal day.
S42: The success of B&B run in just the last three years has been remarkable.
S47: Later in twenty eighteen, he got rapper Drake to collaborate with him in Spanish.
S56: No less on the number five hot 100 hit me.
S57: I get what is.
S42: And in February of this year, when Shakira and Jennifer Lopez took the stage at the Super Bowl halftime show.
S47: Also joining them on stage were Jay Belvin and Bad Bunny, two Latin megastars who were crossing over in America without singing much English or compromising their sound.
S58: Bad, bad in a way.
S59: It was a passing of the torch to women from Latin Boomi to version one point oh, showcasing two men who were at the forefront of boom meet-up 2.0 and for bad Bunnie, the impact was massive. One month after the Super Bowl, D&B Bunnies new album debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart all the way up at number 2.
S3: Billboard reported that it was instantly the highest charting all Spanish album in American chart history, by the way, on this track.
S60: See Vale Octu Mama Bad Bunny is interpolating the melody of the bossa nova classic The Girl from Ipanema. Yet again, one more emerging Latin megastar is calling back to a standard from decades ago, six decades after Ritchie Valens and Giorgio Bairstow, and two decades after the breakthrough of Ricky Martin, bad bunny is crossing over. But he is not compromising yet. Where will the newest Latin boom go from here?
S56: Perhaps the answer lies in the name of Bad Bungees new album, which is still in the top three on the Billboard 200 as I speak. The album’s sports a rather cryptic title. It’s just eight letters y h l Q m._d L.G., which stands for the Spanish phrase Yo I go look made their lagana and that sentence translates to I do whatever I want.
S61: I don’t know, but I hope you enjoy this episode of Hit Parade.
S56: This show was written, edited and narrated by Chris Melaniphy. That’s me. My producer is Justin D. Right. And we also have helped this episode from Rosemary Bellson and Osher Solution. June Thomas is the senior managing producer and Gabriel Roth, the editorial director of Slate podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate.com. Slash podcasts. You can subscribe to hit parade wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to finding it in the Slate culture, FT. If you’re subscribing on Apple podcasts, please rate and review us while you’re there. It helps other listeners find the show. Thanks for listening. And I look forward to leading the hit parade. Back your way. OSTAEYEN Thorn says planting a soy XML.
S62: al-Ansi of.