Two years ago, Bad Bunny made Billboard 200 albums chart history when his El Último Tour Del Mundo became the first primarily Spanish-language set to ever top the chart. This week, Bad Bunny sets a new high-water-mark for 2022 releases in any language.
The global superstar’s new LP Un Verano Sin Ti moves 274,000 equivalent album units in its debut week of release — with Bad Bunny not only topping the Billboard 200 for the second time (chart dated May 21), but notching the best single-week performance of the calendar year so far, easily besting the 222,000 units posted by Future’s I Never Liked You in its debut frame the week before. In addition, the album charts 22 of its 23 tracks on the Billboard Hot 100, including four in the listing’s top 10.
Why did this album lap not only all previous Bad Bunny releases, but everything else released earlier in 2022? And what is left for Bad Bunny to still achieve in terms of his stateside stardom? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.
1. Though it’s not his first No. 1 album, the 274,000 first-week number is eye-popping for Bad Bunny, considering his previous chart-topper (2020’s El Último Tour Del Mundo) debuted with less than half that number (116,000). What do you think is the biggest reason Verano was able to score such an even more resounding debut?
Leila Cobo: Many reasons contributed to this success. First, Verano boasts 23 tracks; El Último Tour had 16. Those extra seven songs add streams, especially considering Spotify gave all its free tier users around the world on-demand access to listen to the full album ad-free for a week. It adds up. Beyond that, though, Bad Bunny has relentlessly been gathering traction in terms of fame and recognition globally. His recent foray into acting in Narcos and his upcoming major film roles have also given non fans a reason to discover him. And then, of course, there’s that upcoming stadium tour which is selling out globally. Bad Bunny is currently in an unparalleled position. While historically other Latin artists may have had even bigger name recognition, none had simultaneous success in so many arenas. Bad Bunny is a huge star living his best moment.
Griselda Flores: Two years without a Bad Bunny album seems like a long time compared to when, in 2020, he released three back-to-back albums. These were songs that fans had been waiting for since the beginning of the year when Bad Bunny announced he was working on a new album, and that he’d release sometime this year. The fact that he announced and promoted Un Verano Sin Ti before it even dropped, creat
ted a buzz early on. I think him taking the time to create a promo plan for this album played a huge role in the resounding debut. His last three albums had no warning, they were surprise albums.
Jason Lipshutz: While El Último Tour Del Mundo was Bad Bunny’s third project of 2020, Verano is his first album in a year and a half; the levels of excitement around each full-length were naturally different. Yet in that year and a half, Bad Bunny has also become an even more dominant figure in not just Latin music, but in global pop music – there’s a reason he’s able to headline stadiums in the summer of 2022, whereas he wasn’t quite at that stature yet in late 2020. His enormous profile, plus the anticipation for this new album, yielded his best Billboard 200 week to date.
Jessica Roiz: It’s the first album that he’s actually promoted. YHLQMDLG and El Ultimo Tour del Mundo were released spontaneously and as a surprise, with no more than five days’ notice. Verano, on the other hand, was announced as early as January, and Bad Bunny had an entire conceptual plan (starring actor Mario Casas) leading up to its May release. For four months, Bad Bunny fans have been waiting (and counting down) for this album. Of course, the songs are more appealing and it’s his most varied album yet, but I think it all began with the promotional plan — fans knew it was coming.
Andrew Unterberger: Definitely two calendar years (though really less than 18 months) in between albums played a big part. But also, over that time period, Bad Bunny’s star continued to grow, with countless award show appearances, big looks on SNL and various WWE events, and a steady-enough trickle of new singles and feature appearances for him to be named Billboard‘s No. 10 Greatest Pop Star of 2021 even without an actual album released over that period. He began 2022 with maybe the highest approval rating of any major contemporary hitmaker — maybe not everyone is a superfan, but there’s nobody who doesn’t like Bad Bunny right now. It’s not at all shocking he’s putting up numbers like this.
2. Bad Bunny lands a historic four songs from Verano in the Hot 100’s top 10 this week — “Moscow Mule” at No. 4, “Tití Me Preguntó” at No. 5, “Después de la Playa” at No. 6 and “Me Porto Bonito” (with Chenco Corleone) at No. 10 — making it the most Spanish-language songs to ever occupy the region in the same frame. Which of the four songs seems to you to be the most likely breakout hit from the set?
Leila Cobo: Well, first of all, it merits saying that these four tracks are the first four tracks on the album, so, in a streaming world, the success is not entirely surprising. Having said that, I love “Titi Me Pregunto.” It’s completely refreshing, surprising and ridiculously hooky in the first half, then strangely hypnotic in the second half. I love how this is a song that doesn’t follow any rules, and the lyrics are a fascinating exploration of fame and love.
Griselda Flores: It’s hard to say. They’re all hits in their own right. If I had to choose just one, I’d say “Moscow Mule,” which opens the album and sets the chill tone for Un Verano Sin Ti. It’s also the most quintessential Bad Bunny song powered by an irresistible reggaetón beat. The track’s music video is also really cool, which will give the song an extra push. In the video, directed by Stillz, Bunny appears completely naked. Then, when the camera zooms in, we learn he’s genital-less merman who’s living his best life.
Jason Lipshutz: “Moscow Mule” is the obvious choice, with a lush, summery texture, a hook that transcends language and a title designed for warm-weather imbibing. Although “Moscow Mule” slows down in its back half, the beat picking back up in the final 45 seconds represents one of the most transcendent moments on Verano, and the foundation of a big hit.
Jessica Roiz: My personal favorite is the Chencho Corleone-assisted “Me Porto Bonito” and though I would love to see Chencho earn another No. 1 hit on a Billboard chart, I strongly believe “Titi” or “Playa” will become the album’s breakout hit. “Moscow” and “Bonito” follow Bad Bunny’s edgy reggaetón and hard-hitting perreo route while “Titi” and “Playa” are the more innovative, summer-themed tracks. It’s also the first time Bad Bunny has experimented fully with dembow and mambo, making both of these tracks even more attractive to those who prefer tropical music as opposed to urban.
Andrew Unterberger: I don’t really think there’s an obvious front-runner in the bunch — and his fans don’t really seem to think so either, considering the four biggest hits off the album so far are the first four tracks on Verano. In the interest of picking one, though, I’ll go with “Después de la Playa,” an unpredictable and spectacularly high-energy romp whose mid-song beat switch and summer-friendly lyrics feel like they have high viral potential. Plus, you can cut it with clips of Benito intoning “playa” in those unavoidable Corona commercials with Snoop Dogg.
3. Bad Bunny tries a number of interesting new sounds with a wide variety of collaborators on the new album. Which of Verano‘s 23 tracks shows the most interesting new direction for Bad Bunny — the one you’d most like to hear him explore further in the future?
Griselda Flores: I gotta say that I love his collaborations with The Marías, Bomba Estéreo and Buscabulla. The indie-pop, psychedelic route is really refreshing and showcases Bunny’s authentic versatility, which allows him to thrive in spaces outside of his core urban sound.
Jason Lipshutz: I’m really digging the nu-disco undertones on “Party” with Rauw Alejandro, which offer a subtle switch-up from more traditional reggaetón tracks, and work well with an artist whose “Todo De Ti” was one of last year’s most electric dance tracks. If Bad Bunny dives deeper down that rabbit hole and commits to a full retro vibe, he would find a ton of success with such a song or project.
Jessica Roiz: What can’t this man do? Trap, reggaetón, alternative rock, merengue, bachata, you name it. But there’s something about the collaborations on Side B that I absolutely love, and that’s the vulnerability in the lyrics and the chill indie melodies. I love the feel-good reggae fusions with Bomba Estereo on “Ojos Bonitos,” the psychedelic soul beats alongside The Maris on “Otro Atardecer,” and the nostalgic house rhythms assisted by Buscabulla on “Andrea.” I would enjoy more of Bad Bunny experimenting with these sounds.
Andrew Unterberger: Gotta be “El Apagón.” I love the second half, of course, after the 2 Unlimited-worthy beat drops and the song becomes a skipping, Jock Jam-worthy stadium house anthem — but for my money, the cooler part might actually be the first half, where it’s just Bad Bunny spitting over some minimal percussion and occasionally booming bass, gratifyingly raw stuff for one of our most massive international pop stars.
4. There’s more than one Latin artist making history on the Billboard 200 this week, as Eslabon Armado debuting at No. 9 with their Nostalgia set makes them the first Regional Mexican artist to ever hit the chart’s top 10. Both feats are obviously impressive, but between that and Bad Bunny’s Verano notching the year’s best single-week tally to date, which achievement strikes you as the more notable?
Leila Cobo: Eslabon’s achievement is extraordinary. Such a young group and making music in a genre that has long been niche; regional Mexican music after all is a locale-heavy sub genre of Latin music. It’s not the more universal pop or urban. So, the fact that this very regional music has captured a universal audience is tremendous. But, to me, having an all Spanish-language album top the chart is the biggest success of all. This never happened until Bad Bunny. Our previous global Latin stars — Ricky Martin, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez — all had No. 1s (or close to them) with bilingual or mostly English-language albums. Bad Bunny’s achievement is huge and reflects his appeal as an artist and also, fans’ willingness to listen. It makes me supremely happy and proud.
Griselda Flores: I’ll be honest and say that I expected Bad Bunny to be No. 1 on the Billboard 200. I think we all did. But to see Eslabon Armado in the top 10 was really surprising. Not because their album isn’t deserving, it really is, but because no regional Mexican album has ever done that. As a fan of the genre, this is huge. It further proves that Mexican music is no longer confined to a niche audience. After releasing four chart-topping albums (No. 1 on Regional Mexican Albums chart) in less than two years, placing a top 10 on the Billboard 200 was only a matter of time for Eslabon Armado.
Jason Lipshutz: Eslabon Armado’s top 10 debut is a watershed moment for Regional Mexican music on the Billboard 200, after years of fascinating sounds and palpable expansion within the genre. But make no mistake – Bad Bunny is achieving things that no predominantly Spanish-language artist has ever been able to pull off, in both North America and the world. Kudos to Eslabon Armado, but Bad Bunny’s Verano scoring a massive debut and flooding the Hot 100 is a feat we should remember for a long time.
Jessica Roiz: I would have to go with Eslabon Armado on this one. It’s so remarkable to see this young musical group make Regional Mexican history on the Billboard 200 chart. They’ve definitely worked hard for this achievement, releasing two to three albums per year in the midst of the pandemic, and with frontman Pedro Tovar penning all the songs. It’s a true example of “hard work pays off.”
Andrew Unterberger: It really is hard to go against a Spanish-language star having the biggest album of a year that’s already four-and-a-half months old, when there’d never even been a Spanish-language No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 until Bad Bunny’s previous set. But wow, is that Eslabon Armado debut a head-turner. It was only a few years ago that Regional Mexican’s imprint on the all-genre charts was for the most part minimal, but after a number of Hot 100 entries in 2021 and 2022 — capped by Yahritza y Su Esencia’s stunning top 20 debut a couple months ago — and now Nostalgia having a huge streaming debut and making the chart’s top 10, it’s undeniable that the genre is now a major pop force. It’s a great story that isn’t getting nearly the national attention it deserves.
5. With No. 1 albums and singles and a record-breaking world tour now to his credit, Bad Bunny has checked most of the boxes for unimpeachable global superstardom. What’s one more (or one last) accomplishment you’d like him to notch for him to unquestionably occupy the same rarefied air in this country as the biggest English-language pop stars?
Leila Cobo: I’d love for him to have a huge, solo, global hit that the entire world can sing along to. The kind that new generations will still sing 30-40 years from now.
Griselda Flores: I’d love to see him earn a Grammy nod in the top four categories. Bad Bunny has won Grammys but within Latin categories. He has yet to break out of the Latin field. Would be cool to see him nominated in the album of the year category.
Jason Lipshutz: I believe that Bad Bunny should headline some major North American festivals next year, particularly Coachella, and break barriers in a sector of the music industry that has taken a long time predominantly showcasing Spanish-language artists. He is one of the biggest artists on the planet, and a Bad Bunny headlining set – whether or Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza or another big fest – would be truly historic, and deserved.
Jessica Roiz: It’s true, he’s done it all! He wrestled for WWE, teamed up with brands, produced music for other artists, walked his first MET Gala this year, and he’s set to make his movie debut as well. But it would be cool to see Bad Bunny headline his first-ever Coachella or even helm a World Cup theme song. And although he doesn’t need it, it’d be cool to see him do more collaborations with mainstream acts, as he did with Drake in “MIA.”
Andrew Unterberger: One of these days, a Latin artist is going to have a major top 40 pop hit in America with an entirely Spanish-language song — no noteworthy remix, no featured artists, no English hook. And if you were a betting person, Bad Bunny would have to be the smart-money pick for the artist to land it.