If you’ve ever had a friend study abroad, you know that once they return they are particularly intolerable because they never shut up about how amazing those few months were. After spending a semester studying in Spain, I am essentially obligated to tell everyone that the Spaniards do everything better than anyone else. While I was there one of the most glaringly obvious things they do better is pop music – specifically, reggaeton.
The genre actually originated in Puerto Rico in 1991, becoming known as “underground” music because of the venues that played it. It wasn’t until 2004 that reggaeton began reaching America and Europe, largely thanks to artists like Shakira and Daddy Yankee.
Reggaeton has a whole lot more than just Justin Bieber’s “Despacito.” It essentially dominates not only the airwaves, but the club and bar scenes throughout Spain as well. While nearly everyone abroad listens to American music, Americans who listen to music from other nationalities are much harder to find. Part of this is because of our enormously successful entertainment industry – there doesn’t seem to be a need to explore outside of our Spotify daily mixes. While occasionally a reggaeton hit will make it to the radio in the States, like “Despacito” or some other Daddy Yankee song, we are missing a ton of equally entertaining tracks by limiting ourselves to these few.
Obviously not everyone speaks Spanish and is going to understand the lyrics, but if you tell me you listen to the American top 40 for the lyrics, I won’t believe it, especially if you’re at a party or in a bar. The most important aspect is the groove, and reggaeton has that down to a science. Syncopated drum beats drive nearly every song, which only encourage that dancey feeling even more. This groove, known as “riddim,” originates from Jamaican dancehall producers in the 1990s. The form of dancing most commonly associated with reggaeton is grinding (perreo) – I’m sure we all know what that is, and why it just reassures that reggaeton is the perfect bar/club music.
We all have those songs that define our summers. Not only is reggaeton good for a night out, but I can tell you all from personal experience that it is quite good for a “forget that other people can see through your car windows” jam sesh. Why not let the dancey feel and good vibes dominate your summer?
For a playlist of some popular reggaeton right now, check here:
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2K18 Playlist: Reggaeton. Featured image credit: Maya Robinson