They say history never repeats, but the Latin craze of the early ’00s returned with a vengeance in 2017. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee took “Despacito” to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 by calling on Justin Bieber, while J Balvin and Willy William crashed the top five (and raised a lot of money for charity) by asking Beyonce to add a verse to “Mi Gente.” But it wasn’t only superstar remixes that captured the imagination of the general public.
Becky G landed the most-watched video of the year by a female artist with “Mayores,” Maluma amassed millions of new fans ahead of his inevitable crossover and Anitta established herself as one of the breakout stars of 2017. To celebrate the exploding popularity of Latin pop, I’ve pulled together a list of the genre’s 10 best bops. Natti Natasha & Ozuna’s “Criminal” and Major Lazer’s “Sua Cara” get an honorable mention.
10. “Chambea” — Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny had a massive 2017, collaborating with everyone from Daddy Yankee to Prince Royce. The Puerto Rican newcomer saved the best for last, however, with “Chambea” — the kind of bone-rattling trap anthem that commands you to bounce.
9. “Amarillo” — Shakira
Shakira’s 20-year reign as the Queen of Latin pop shows no sign of letting up. The Colombian superstar’s 11th LP, El Dorado, is a flawless collection of bangers with a sprinkling of quieter, more introspective moments. The best example of the latter is “Amarillo,” a beautifully-understated love song that wouldn’t sound out of place on 2005’s Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1.
8. “Paradinha” — Anitta
Brazil’s Queen of Pop leveraged a feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Switch” to win a loyal (and growing) international following. She appeased them with a handful of English-language releases, but nothing quite matched the pure pop appeal of “Paradinha.” The 24-year-old is destined to have a massive 2018.
7. “Angel” — Juanes
Juanes’ Mis Planes Son Amarte is one of the great Latin-pop albums of 2017 and buzz track, “Angel,” is the standout. This perky earworm deserved to be huge, but it didn’t find as big an audience as I expected. If you like vintage Maroon 5, this is the song for you.
6. “Despacito” — Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber
What more can be said about the biggest hit of the year? It’s slinky, sexy, absolutely inescapable and helped make Luis Fonsi a worldwide superstar.
5. “Felices Los 4” — Maluma
A summery anthem about having feelings for someone else while in a relationship, Maluma’s “Felices Los 4” comes up with a cheeky compromise that involves both couples coming together for some adult fun. There’s a huge surge of momentum behind the Colombian singer (he is the undisputed king of YouTube with billions of views), which means we’re going to hear a lot more from him in the months ahead.
4. “Mayores” — Becky G & Bad Bunny
Becky G’s “Mayores” just pipped Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” to become the most-watched video by a female artist in 2017. I’m sure some of those views are exclusively for the sexy content (our girl is all grown up!), but the majority came for the song — the kind of slinky bop that gets lodged in your brain and refuses to leave. After dabbling in rap and dance-pop, the 20-year-old has found her calling.
3. “Amor Amor Amor” — Jennifer Lopez & Wisin
I was a little miffed when I learned that Jennifer Lopez’s new album was going to be a Spanish-language affair. But then I heard the very-good “Ni Tu Ni Yo” and exceptional “Amor Amor Amor” and realized that a sequel to 2007’s Como Ama Una Mujer is actually long-overdue. From the cover art to the video, everything about J.Lo’s collaboration with Wisin is on the money.
2. “Mi Gente” — J Balvin, Willy William & Beyonce
“Mi Gente” is the gift that keeps on giving. Originally released as “Voodoo Song,” Willy William called on J Balvin for a bilingual remix and scored a worldwide hit. The song then got even bigger when Beyonce agreed to ride the wildest beat of 2017 in the name of charity. This remains the ultimate party anthem.
1. “Me Enamore” — Shakira
The cutest pop song of the year belongs to Shakira. Another highlight from El Dorado, “Me Enamore” finds the Colombian at the height of her powers — delivering quirky lyrics over a beat that would make anyone’s (honest) hips move. The video has racked up more than 500 million views on YouTube, a testament to the fact that the 40-year-old is still one of the biggest stars on the planet.
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