Despite Latin Stars, World Cup Songs Fail to Score on Charts

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Maluma, Ricky Martin, Shakira & Jason Derulo

Maluma, Nicky Jam, Carlos Vives and more miss the goals marked by Shakira and Ricky Martin.

Despite promising starts at the World Cup, Mexico, Panama, and, notably, historic fútbol powers Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay failed to score a place in the global tournament finals.  

The teams’ disappointing performances for the region that is home to some of the world’s most dedicated soccer enthusiasts and its most worshipped players (Messi, Maradona, Pelé), has been matched by the poor showing of 2018 World Cup songs featuring some of Latin music’s biggest stars on the Billboard Latin charts.

Despite star power and hype, “Live It Up,” Nicky Jam’s official World Cup anthem; the Latin version of Coca-Cola album “Colors,” which paired Maluma with Jason Derulo; Prince Royce’s “90 Minutos;” J Balvin’s “Positivo,” Maná’s “El Gladiador Méxicano" and Carlos Vives’ “Allá Se Juega, Acá Lo Vives" all missed the mark as far as U.S. Latin radio, sales and streaming services are concerned. All of those tracks failed to secure any position on the Latin charts, and in the majority of cases, did not see Billboard chart action at all.

“Live It Up,” which features Will Smith and Era Istrefi, did debut at no. 13 on the YouTube songs chart (on June 23), its highest position, and it has made a showing on YouTube since then, with over 90 million views. The song appeared on a handful of international charts, with its best place on Austria’s songs sales chart, where it reached no. 3. It has been streamed on demand 11.1 million times in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.

But while the presence of Nicky Jam would have seemed to guarantee the official FIFA song’s appeal for Latin music listeners, it remained on the bench as far as the Latin charts are concerned.

Compare that to “We Are One (Ole Ola),” 2014’s official song performed by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte. Although that song was widely considered a disappointment at the time, it still went to No. 13 on Latin Airplay, and appeared on three other Billboard charts, including the Hot 100, where it made it to no. 59. That song has been streamed on demand 42 million times.

Pitbull proved to be no match for Shakira when it came to World Cup Songs. “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” the Colombian superstar’s 2010 World Cup Song, was no. 1 for four weeks on Latin Streaming Songs, spent 42 non-consecutive weeks at no. 1 on Latin Digital Songs, and rose to No. 2 on both Hot Latin Songs and Latin Pop Airplay. “Waka Waka” is the most popular video for a World Cup song in YouTube history and the 23rd most popular video of all time overall. It has had 177.3 million on-demand streams to date.

Also in 2010, the Somalian-Canadian artist K’naan’s song “Wavin Flag” scored on the Latin Pop Airplay chart, notching at No. 24.

Shakira’s MVP World Cup performance (a winning streak that continued with 2014’s sleeper hit “La,La,La”) followed Ricky Martin’s groundbreaking “The Cup of Life/La Copa de la Vida,” which set the bar for the transcendent potential of World Cup songs back in 1998. In those pre-streaming days, “The Cup of Life” marked at No. 2 on Hot Latin Songs and Latin Pop Airplay and at No. 18 on Mainstream Top 40, and also appeared on five other Billboard charts.

While there was no one song that unified Latin audiences for this year’s World Cup celebration, there were significant musical shows of national pride in the stands and country-by-country successes. Streams of various recordings of the Mexican classic “Cielito Lindo” surged by 1,854%. on Spotify in Mexico. And while it did not make it to the U.S. Latin charts, Maná’s “El Gladiador Méxicano” had impact on the band’s home turf, peaking at No. 10 on the Mexico Pop en Español Airplay chart.

Nicky Jam, Will Smith and Era Istrefi are scheduled to perform at the World Cup closing ceremony on Sunday (July 15), when France and Croatia face off for the final game.


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