Billboard's 10 Best Latin Albums of 2016: Critics' Picks
It might have been the year of urban songs, but Latin pop sure produced some fine records as well. From Joss Favela's Latin Grammy and Grammy-nominated debut album to Carla Morrison's alt-rock love set, our Latin team rounds up their favorite albums of the year.
10. Ricardo Montaner, Ida y Vuelta
Ricardo Montaner’s 23rd studio album was released in two editions: a 19-song Regional Mexican version and an 11-song pop version, and became a tribute to Mexico. The set contains Montaner’s greatest hits, in the voices of different Mexican acts such as Calibre 50, Pepe Aguilar, Julión Alvarez, Espinoza Paz, Yuri, Conjunto Primavera and Voz De Mando. Montaner, who was born in Argentina but is Venezuelan, says Mexico was one of the first countries to fully embrace his music outside of South America. - Suzette Fernández
9. Rosana, En la memoria de la piel
The Spanish singer/songwriter recorded her newest album in the atrium of her house. The resulting set is Latin pop at its finest, with a well-produced, yet beautifully real sound. The real treasure are the songs, one finely crafted hit after the next, with widely-ranging arrangements that go from uptempo tropical to ballads and lyrics (“I can’t forget to forget you”) that make you close your eyes in recognition. - Leila Cobo
8. Intocable, Highway
Intocable’s Highway is an homage to life on the road and the many twists and turns it takes along the way. More important, this rich, textured album puts accordion-based norteño music at a whole different level of musical excellence. Songs like “Día 730,” a story about a the disappeared women of Juárez, are must-listens for fans any genre. - L.C.
7. Carla Morrison, Amor Supremo
Carla Morrison’s heady voice is a joy to listen to, and in Amor Supremo (Supreme Love), she lets it all out in one of the most achingly beautiful love albums in recent memory. Set over lush electronica and strings, Amor Supremo is both ethereal and produced. A sonic treat. - L.C.
6. Roberto Fonseca, ABUC
Pianist Roberto Fonseca’s ABUC is a powerful mash-up Cuban music’s past and present that both swings hard and provides moments of reflection. Fonseca and his dream team of musicians bring the mambo back, get funky, recite poetry, and remind everyone why Cuba is a sonic superpower. - Judy Cantor-Navas
5. León Larregui, Voluma
On born rock star and hopeless romantic León Larregui’s second solo album, the Zoé frontman’s navel-gazing ballads take off on a soaring psychedelic trip suitable for all audiences. - J.C.N.
4. Joss Favela, Hecho A Mano
Worthy of a Latin Grammy and Grammy nomination, Favela’s debut album Hecho A Mano is a beautifully crafted set with personal and heart wrenching lyrics. Whether in love or out of love, this album -- penned, produced & arranged by the 25-year-old crooner -- will help you get through with anything related to matters of the heart. Favorite song on the album: “Cuando fuimos nada" - Griselda Flores
3. Reik, Des/Amor
The Mexican trio’s Des/Amor stays true to Reik’s melancholic songwriting and heartbreaking tunes, but there is also a twist to their Latin Grammy nominated album. Their track “Ya me enteré” has an urban version featuring Nicky Jam -- their first collaboration ever with a reggaetonero. While the urban track may be the best song on the LP, the collection also includes a fusion of ballads with fun folk and groovy beats in songs like “Spanglish” and “Qué gano olvidándote.”-G.F.
2. J Balvin, Energía
Proving to master the art of crafting chart-topping hits like “Ginza” and “Bobo,” J Balvin’s Latin Grammy-winning Energía is charged with irresistible and seductive upbeat reggaetón tempos familiar to Balvin’s style, while at the same time allowing the Colombian singer to show versatility with the acoustic ballad “No hay título.” Recruiting hit-makers like Daddy Yankee, Juanes, Yandel and Pharrell, Balvin’s Energía set the bar high for reggaetoneros. - G.F.
1. iLe, Ilevitable
Ileana Cabra debuts as a soloist after singing backup to older brothers René Pérez Joglar and Eduardo Cabra of Calle 13, and she really shakes it up. Ilevitable is old school bolero and some alternative pop with a touch of funk and genre bending arrangements that make it both current and vintage (and great soundtrack fodder). Ile’s vocals, beautifully exposed, can traverse from torch-singer depth to alt innocence convincingly in this sometimes haunting, sometimes sheer fun debut that’s garnered both Latin Grammy and Grammy nods. - L.C.