At a time when reggaeton and Latin trap are dominating the music game, the power of Latin pop appears to have waned. Yet the once-leading genre thrives today with a new wave of Latin-music stars who are redefining pop by pushing the boundaries and embracing today’s top sounds.
Pop is, of course, short for “popular,” so the genre has evolved over the years to reflect the sweep of chart-topping trends. In the ’80s, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine turned Latin music into pop music with the larger-than-life smash “Conga.” In the following decade, Puerto Rican-born Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, of Spanish heritage, embraced the Latin-lover trope to keep the global audience enticed.
At the same time, rock en español was on top, leading to Shakira’s emergence as a pop rockera. With dance music making an impact toward the end of the ’90s as well, dance-pop anthems by Thalía and Paulina Rubio made those artists Latin icons. Then there was the convergence of pop and reggaeton that gained prominence when Nicky Jam teamed up with Iglesias for 2015’s “El Perdón” and, on an even bigger scale, when Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee unleashed “Despacito” in 2017.
In 2021, artists continue to straddle the line between pop and reggaeton, in addition to those still carrying the torch for Latin pop that would make LuisMi in his prime proud. Here is a survey of current Latin musicians finding diverse and inspired ways to blend the music of their people with pop.