YouTube released its annual list of the most popular music videos of 2017. 6 out of 10 of those videos are in Spanish, but more specifically, they’re from reggaetoneros. How did this happen? I’ll tell you.
First, let’s look at the list:
- Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee
- Ed Sheeran – Shape of You
- J Balvin, Willy William – Mi Gente
- Maluma – Felices los 4
- Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like
- Chris Jeday – Ahora Dice ft. J. Balvin, Ozuna, Arcángel
- Nicky Jam – El Amante
- Jason Derulo – Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)
- DJ Khaled – I’m the One ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne
- Enrique Iglesias – Súbeme a la radio ft. Descemer Bueno, Zion & Lennox
1) So reggaeton is super popular now, huh?
Duh. It’s been mildly popular in Latin America since the late ’80s, but in the mid ’00s Daddy Yankee’s Barrio Fino LP essentially propelled the scandalous genre into the big leagues. I recently covered reggaeton’s mainstream success in this long-ass rant.
2) You knew “Despacito” was gonna be on the list, but how come it’s not the Justin Bieber remix?
“Despacito” was already popular in the Spanish-speaking world way before the Canadian got to it – in fact, I think the song had been out for almost 6 months when Justino Bieberto released his own “remix” (basically the same song sprinkled with some new phrases on top).
If 5 other Spanish-sung tracks made it to YouTube’s top 10 without Bieber’s help, it’s a curious indication that Justin probably helped himself out more than he helped Fonsi-Yankee.
3) How come Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Britney, or any of America’s most popular singers are not in the top 10, since they usually dominate it?
Well, not all of them have released new music. Taylor Swift did, and the fact that she didn’t crack this top 10 is quite interesting.
But also not interesting at all, because maybe, just maybe, audiences might finally be tired of listening to the same 4 Swedish producers over, and over, and over.
Reggaeton is old hat to most Latinos, but to an international audience, that shit is fresh.
4) But, but, but AMUUURICAAA, nationalism, the English language, Trump, white power!
Listen, ever since MTV became a thing, most white teenagers in America want to be anything but white, even if the Trump era appears to say otherwise. Those same teenagers may turn conservative country music lovers later in life – it happened to my skater friends from high school — but, as young bucks, that “urban” lifestyle really titillates white people. That’s why Eminem is, much to the horror of this writer, still a thing.
Point is, reggaeton plays into all of the “urban” aesthetics, plus white America always has a Latin-curious thing going on (see “La bamba,” “Rico suave,” “Macarena,” “Suavemente,” or any other crossover hit).
5) Is reggaeton even reggaeton anymore? Or “urban”? Or whatever the fuck?
Nope. Besides a few exceptions, current reggaeton is basically just regular pop music with a different backup track (drum machine pattern, mostly). The original reggaeton, which was offensive, misogynist, political, highly sexualized and demonized, has been sanitized for mass consumption.
Again, I covered all of that here.
6) Are that many people in the US really, really listening to watered-down reggaeton? Let’s talk numbers.
Yes and no. This YouTube list is a global list, not just an American list. That indicates that a lot of people in the rest of the world also caught the reggaeton fever. But, speaking of numbers, there’s another possible reason as to why this genre suddenly blew the fuck up on YouTube.
There’s over 600 million people in Latin America. That’s double the amount of US Americans, but people Latin America may not be consuming their music the way many Americans do. I speak of iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, etc. Some of those are paid services, and I’m inclined to believe most people in Latin America are not paying for them. Americans probably are.
I hypothesize that people’s personal radio stations in Latin America consist entirely YouTube videos, and not Deezer/Pandora/Spotitidaltunes playlists. All of this means that Americans may be amassing more numbers on paid services instead of just YouTube.
7) How come there’s no women on this list?
Well, check out #3 again, but also know that there’s not that many reggaetoneras, which is a shame.
At some point, Ivy Queen managed to develop an audience, but, sadly, she’s a bit past her prime now, and I really can’t see her making a significant comeback. There’s a few new prospects, such as Tomasa del Real and Ms Nina, but I can’t see them being allowed into the Balvin/Maluma/Yankee/Jam club anytime soon.
There’s also Cardi B., and she sings reggaeton songs in her car, nail salons, and other places, apparently. But she’s not really a part of the reggaeton boom — not yet, anyway. (Give it time, though.)
8) Um, is Enrique Iglesias technically a reggaetonero? Wasn’t he, like, some dorky rich kid in loose sweaters?
Enrique was a dorky rich kid in loose sweaters, but that was back in the ’90s. Later he moved to Miami, started hanging out with Pitbull, Wisin & Yandel, Romeo Santos, and “reinvented” himself as a dorky rich kid with reggaetonero friends. Now he piggybacks off whatever trend is popular in the mainstream, just like most global stars, really.
It’s good for Quique’s career, I guess. But probably not for his lineage, since his dad appears to be ashamed of him. Isabel Preysler, his mom, is dating Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel laurete, so I can’t imagine her being super proud of her use-an-ass-as-a-pillow son:
So now you know.
It’s a thankless job, but would you like to rant for Rictus?
Are you Latino, Latina, or Latinx? If you’re not, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you lived in Latin America, or know Latino culture well. More importantly, do you have a funny, witty, dumb, eye-opening, or virgen María-blessed insight about something? A personal story, a political view, groundbreaking analysis, or dissenting review about a movie, record, city, art show, or something nobody cares about?
Maybe nobody cares about whatever you’re interested in because you haven’t written about it. Share your thoughts with strangers! You may get even some virtual likes on social media, and that’s how people count happiness in 2018, right?
José and I have a lot of fun here at Rictus, but it’s fun to publish contrasting voices. We don’t make any money, so neither will you. This is really just about you loving the written word, as we do.
Some shit to consider:
- Can be as short as 300 words, or as long as you think you can hold people’s attention with your awesome wordsmithery.
- It’s a lot more important — to us, anyway — that you’re funny, insightful, or engaging about whateverthefuckyouwriteabout than a being a super professional writer, so don’t be shy.
- In English, please. We may add a Spanish section later, but, yeah, English werds, for now.
- You can use a pen name. Maybe you work at some conservative think tank and and don’t want to be found out. That’s fine. Use your superhero name.
- You should already have a good pitch. What do you know, or have strong opinions about, that others don’t? Are you mad about something you recently saw in the news? Does your aunt drive you crazy? Have you noticed an interesting pattern in penis owners? Are you a media geek? Do you love celebrities, but hate their dumb looks?
Broke, youthful & repressed: Things you’re too dumb to appreciate in your 20s
Are you trying to get through your 20s gracefully? Then you’ve come to the wrong place — and I don’t mean this website, I mean this planet. But this website too, maybe.
Listen, you will make horrible mistakes during your existence because #youth. But pay attention because, even if you don’t get past your 20s with some grace, you may be able to get by with some dignity.
1) You poor, endearing bastard
Ah, to be young, dumb, and full of cumulative social issues. As a broke twentysomething, you’re usually too self-conscious to realize that your youth, in a strange way, sanctions your destitution. You realize you’re poor — that’s obviously not the issue — but instead of making it your warcry, and finding strength in a nothing-to-lose attitude, you burden yourself attempting to portray the opposite.
Maybe you’re still trying to prove to society — and your parents, most of all — that you’re an independent, responsible, adult-ass person. You really want that vindication, especially if you spent tons of money on getting edumacated. Yet, you’re between a precious little window of time when society is still willing to forgive your poverty, access to influence, and lack of experience.
Ah, but once you reach your 30s? Let’s just say the Eye of Sauron has nothing on people’s judgemental gaze.
There are exceptions, of course, and if you come from money, none of what I just wrote will make sense to you. But in short, youngsters tend to misuse the grace period their youth affords them.
2) Foooreeever young. You’re gonna be, foooreeever dumb.
So you’re a young blood under the impression that your physical and mental machinations will go on forever because you can, like, totally wake up in the middle of the night with tons of ideas and inspiration, even if you got wasted at a party the day before.
And, whatever — you still have a baggie full of coke in your coat, even if it’s 60% baby formula. You can snort it at any point to get an extra kick, but why not save it for the next party? Because your work ethic is just unstoppable, and the thought of physical deterioration seems incredibly foreign.
Little do you know that nature is maniacally cackling behind a crystal ball in a deep lair within your body. It’s waiting to play a cruel joke on your dumbass, and when it’s time — in your 30s — it will begin by sabotaging your stamina.
That’s only the first part of nature’s cruel plan. The second phase is a lot more sinister because, although you’re left with a portion of the physical energy you used to have, a psychological hangup will turn all of your unfinished, half-realized ideas into regrets.
Suddenly, when you’re in the middle of a Netflix ‘n chill session, half-watching the 25th episode of some stupid show you don’t even like, nature will bitingly turn to your formally unstoppable will to say: “Where’s your messiah now?”
Its grim, I know. The point is, if you come to terms with the fact that age will physically slow you down, and you do so when you’re still young, it may push you focus on whatever you think is truly important.
3) Unlike complicated emotional bonds, sex stupid, but fun.
Sex is fun, but incredibly stupid. Stripped of all of the symbolism polite society instills on copulation, either through romcoms, music, books, or coming of age parties (see quinceañeras), the physical act of rubbing genitals with another person is messy and mundane. Conceptually, cooking chilaquiles is a lot more complicated than getting your gross body to secrete fluids.
I hate to go all Sex at Dawn on you, but modern culture has done a number on everybody. Current social taboos still conflate sex with all emotional sensations. A person can be sexually attracted to another while not being intellectually stimulated by them, and that’s fine. But most people still expect every sexual partner to be a perfectly-matched significant other, and that’s dumb.
Very few youngsters internalize a sexually-positive outlook. Their hormones are out of control, just like their clouded, repressed judgement, and too much emotional stock is placed on what could be a fun, pleasing, but ultimately near-meaningless experience — just like cooking chilaquiles.
Deep, rewarding, emotional, or enlightening bonds can be had with just about anyone — your aunt, a garbage man, or even a piece of clothing. You probably can’t have rewarding sex with any of those three — maybe the garbage man, if he’s hot — but you can have good sex with a dumb stranger.
Do it, and don’t feel guilty about it.
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