CNCO’s Richard Camacho was juggling four jobs in New Hampshire, his bank account “not really popping,” when he won a spot in Latin quintet CNCO on Univision reality show La Banda in December 2015. Within a year, the 21-year-old and his bandmates -- Joel Pimentel, 21, Christopher Vélez, 22, Zabdiel De Jesús, 20, and Erick Brian Colón, 17 -- were opening for Ricky Martin on his international One World Tour, and landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart with their debut, Primera Cita.
“I couldn't believe it,” says Camacho, his hair bleached white-blond and his open jean shirt revealing a tattoo of twin wings, seated with the other members of CNCO at Sony Music Latin’s headquarters in Miami. “I’d never seen that much money in my account, ever. As soon as I got the first deposit, I sent it to my family and told them to move [to Miami].”
In the three decades since Menudo broke ground as the first culturally ubiquitous Latin boy band, few groups have filled the same space until CNCO, which is managed by former Menudo member Martin and signed to Musica, a venture between Simon Cowell’s SYCO, Sony and Haim Saban. While Generation Z boy bands like PrettyMuch (another Cowell effort) and Why Don’t We gain momentum mostly stateside, the act (whose name is a pun on “cinco,” or “five”), has scaled worldwide heights since forming just under two years ago, dodging the TV-show winner trap thanks to its bilingual, multicultural appeal and reggaetón-rooted sound.