Year in Music 2019

Rosalia, Bad Bunny & More Revisit Their 2019 Festival Firsts

Bad Bunny
Timothy Norris/Getty Images

Bad Bunny

As Latin music has increasingly influenced global pop, artists like Rosalía, J Balvin and others secured major first-time slots at international events.

Below, some of the biggest superstars in Latin music reflect on their festival achievements in 2019.

Rosalía: Lollapalooza Argentina was incredible because it was the very first show in the tour, and I had never seen an audience move that way, so in sync with everything happening on the stage. And then, Coachella is a place where so many artists I admire have performed. Since it was the beginning of the tour, I wasn’t sure they would know the songs. But they followed everything I did -- the energy was so incredible, I couldn’t believe it. I left the stage in tears. Up until that moment, the only tour I had ever done was seated alone on a stool.”

J Balvin: Coachella was the beginning, and [headlining] Lollapalooza Chicago was confirmation. Playing there implies a very big level of responsibility because we are representing as Latinos; it’s not just J Balvin -- it’s a culture. It was scary, of course, but it was so successful. We won them over. So many artists wrote me:; Pharrell Williams; Scooter Braun, who wasn’t my manager at the time. Most of the artists who were [at Coachella] came to see me the second Saturday because they had heard so much about the show.

Bad Bunny: I was a fan of [Coachella] way, way before I was successful in music. I always wanted to go. So playing there was huge for me; plus, there were tons of people -- and it was a market completely different from my Latin market. But I felt the support very quickly because there were a lot of Latins in the crowd. I get very nervous before taking the stage, and Coachella was no different, but after I got feedback from the fans, I relaxed. I met a lot of cool people, but the only one I remember was Marshmello -- I met him without his mask.

Karol G: In Spain, [especially at Puro Latino Fest 2019], the energy is amazing. People display this immense respect for the artist -- and for Latin artists in particular -- and it’s a beautiful thing. My challenge in festivals is to make my show stand out from the others, so I talk with the audience -- I get offstage and speak with them, dance with them. Next year, I’m supposed to tour Europe alone. But in a way, I’m almost sorry, because the energy you feel in festivals is so magical and wonderful that I think a part of me will [miss that].”

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 21 issue of Billboard.

2019 Billboard Year in Music