Although Billboard‘s Latin Songs chart has long been a crucial indicator for Spanish-language music in the U.S. market, the tune that has topped the chart for the past three weeks isn’t actually in Spanish. The international hit, Michel Teló’s “Ai Se Eu Te Pego,” is the first-ever Portuguese song to hit No. 1 — thanks in part to its popularity on YouTube, as well as with soccer fans.
In advance of the Billboard Latin Music Awards on April 26, Billboard en Español managing editor Judy Cantor-Navas chats with NPR’s Guy Raz about Teló and other artists currently heating up the Latin charts.
WHAT’S HOT ON THE LATIN BILLBOARD CHARTS
Michel Teló, “Ai Se Eu Te Pego”
- Album: Na Balada
- Song: Ai Se Eu Te Pego
This song has been No. 1 on iTunes in 23 countries. In Germany, it broke a record for the most downloaded song, with more than 600,000 downloads. The official video of Teló performing the song has been watched almost 300 million times on YouTube. This all happened because of soccer: Some of Brazil’s best known soccer players, beginning with Neymar, star of the Santos team, and Real Madrid player Cristiano Reynaldo, started dancing to the song at games after scoring a goal. Videos of the players dancing on the field and in the locker room have also been seen millions of times on YouTube. Then fans all around the world started doing it, and it caught on with radio programmers, too. It’s a catchy song — Teló is singing about being crazy about a girl — and it has kind of a frisky, suggestive little choreography that goes with it. It just took off.
Prince Royce, “Las Cosas Pequeñas”
- Album: Phase II
- Song: Cosas Pequeñas
This one has an R&B vibe, mixed with tropical bachata. You can hear that syncopated rhythm, the guitar which is plucked rather than strummed and the bongo beat that characterizes this music from the Dominican Republic. Prince Royce’s sound is usually referred to as urban bachata, a genre that started about a decade ago and was really popularized by the group Aventura. It’s a natural combination for Prince Royce, who’s just 22. He grew up in the Bronx with Dominican parents, and he really broke out in 2010 with a bachata version of “Stand By Me,” which really emphasized that combination of the streetwise American vocal tradition and the tropical music tradition of his heritage. His new album Phase II, which includes English and Spanish songs, is No. 1 on theBillboard Latin Albums chart, and this is the first single.
3Ball MTY, “Inténtalo”
- Album: Inténtalo
- Song: Inténtalo
3Ball MTY is a DJ collective — three guys barely out of their teens — from Monterrey, Mexico. This song has been another social-media phenomenon. It’s electronic music mixed with cumbia and other Mexican rhythms; they call it tribal guarachero. It’s loud, hectic club music that’s meant for dancing, but it’s become mainstream enough that it ought to pop up at a lot of Cinco de Mayo parties this year. What 3Ball MTY is doing is really very similar to what Prince Royce is doing — they’re both experimenting with different rhythms and genres, taking the old and combining it with the new, and it’s opened up a whole new audience as a result. We’re not talking just about a Latino audience, but also the new generation of bilingual Americans who are really doing what comes naturally and changing the definition of Latin music in the process.