These are the top of the top: The top 10 acts on Billboard’s Top Latin Artists Year-End list.
Yes, it’s a mouthful to say, but, with good reason.
Our Top Latin Artists Year-End list provides the most complete, holistic summary of an artist’s achievements through the year. Our ranking is based on chart performance on the Hot Latin Songs (which includes airplay, single sales, and streaming data) and Top Latin Albums (which reflects album sales), as well as Boxscore touring revenue, Social 50 chart activity and ringtone sales.
Our top 10 acts, led by Romeo Santos, reflect the extraordinary diversity of Latin music in the U.S. They include pop, urban and regional Mexican music — artists young, old and even dead (Ariel Camacho). They include traditional music and groundbreaking beats. They include music in Spanish, music that has crossed over, artists that don’t speak a lick of English and artists who are comfortably bilingual and bicultural.
Here is our top 10. For more of Billboard’s year-end content head here.
1. Romeo Santos: At No. 1 for the second straight year, Romeo Santos is the gift that keeps on giving. Even though his Formula, Vol. 2 was released in 2014 and topped the 2014 year-end charts, it kept right on selling in 2015, ending the year as the second most-sold album behind Juan Gabriel. The album remained active on the chart because Santos also had two singles — “Propuesta indecente” and “Hilito” — place in the year-end Hot Latin Songs Top 10. Of those, “Propuesta” broke the record as the most long-enduring song on the chart, ever. To date, it’s spent 124 weeks on the chart, 123 of those on the top 10. On the streaming charts, Santos was equally impressive. Four of the 10 most-streamed songs of the year are his.
2. Juan Gabriel
The Mexican romantic pop icon had one of the most outstanding years of his remarkable 44-year musical career in 2015. His latest album, Los Duo, a collection of his hits performed as duets with fellow Latin music stars from diverse genres and several generations, is the bestselling Latin album of the year.
The album earned the 65-year-old Gabriel his first No. 1 on Top Latin Albums in 18 years (his last was his collaborative effort Juntos Otra Vez alongside Rocio Durcal that topped the chart in 1997). Los Duo spent a total of seven (nonconsecutive) weeks at No. 1 in 2015. Gabriel crowns his year as the only artist to have two albums in the top five Latin albums of the year. His live album Aniversario comes in at No. 5.
3. Enrique Iglesias:
4. J Balvin
For the Colombian urban act, 2015 represented the beginning of his crossover. Not only did he collaborate on ‘Lean On’ (Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ), he also gave Latin flavor to Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ (remix). His latest song, “Ginza,” replaced Nicky Jam’s “El Perdon” at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs where it has spent 10 weeks so far. Balvin’s success went beyond “Ginza.” His “6 a.m.” and “Ay Vamos” both placed in the top 10 of the Latin Streaming Songs chart. “Ay Vamos” and “Ginza” end the year at No. 4 and 5 respectively on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
5. Nicky Jam:
Nicky Jam had already set precedent with his “Travesuras.” But “El Perdón” with Enrique Iglesias catapulted him to stardom. The track spent 30 weeks at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs, a record only broken by “Bailando.” It became the only Latin video to win in the 2015 YouTube music awards, and an English-language version — “Forgivenes” — helped the song peak at No. 56 on the Hot 100 in September. The track ends the year at No. 1 on the hot Latin Songs year-end chart. Nicky Jam also best exemplified a new breed of Latin artist — one that could gain quick traction on the basis of singles rather than albums. It helped that Nicky Jam had a distinct, a new approach to urban music and pop appeal.
6. Julión Alvarez y su Norteño Banda:
If banda music is the new regional Mexican “it” genre, then Julión Alvarez and Banda Sinaolense MS (see below) are its main flag bearers. Alvarez, brash and romantic at the same time, had a stellar year, placing his El Aferrado at No. 10 on the list of Top Latin Albums. All told, Alvarez had three albums in the top 75, while his single “El amor de su vida” ends the year at No. 12 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
7. Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizarraga
Now up for two Grammys, Regional Mexican millennial favorites Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizarraga has had six charting hits on the Hot Latin Songs chart — including four top 10s.The band’s set En Vivo: Guadalajara-Monterrey spent two weeks at No. 1 on Top Latin Albums this year. The group’s latest single “Solo Con Verte” is climbing Hot Latin Songs, currently no. 8. The video for that song has reached 20 million views on YouTube in one month.
8. Calibre 50
Recently, the regional Mexican band earned their first No. 1 on Top Latin Albums (week of Dec. 12) with Historias de La Calle, that includes a little story of El Chapo’s jail escape on their single “Se volvió a pelar mi Apá” (“My dad escaped again”). The band previously told to Billboard that the fans decide about their music: “We put them out and make decisions based on streams and Youtbue and Facebook. We even ask our fans to comment on the videos. They’re very involved.”
9. Ricky Martin:
For Ricky Martin, 2015 was a busy year. He participated as a coach on The Voice Australia, was executive producer/judge on La Banda (Univision) and simultaneously kicked off his One World Tour. He fared equally well with recorded music. A Quien Quiera Escuchar ends the year at No. 4 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums year-end chart and was the highest-selling debut of the year. And when Taylor Swift performed in Miami, guess who she invited onstage?
10. Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho
Regional Mexican rising talent Ariel Camacho was only 22 years old when he died in a car crash after a concert in Mexico in February. It is, sadly, after his death that he has fulfilled his promise: Camacho, with his band Los Plebes del Rancho is the Top New Latin Artist of the Year. News of his death propelled the group’s already rising track “El Karma” to shoot straight to No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs in March. Since then, five more songs have debuted on Hot Latin Songs, most recently on Dec. 5 with “El Senor de Los Cielos.” The group’s album El Karma has spent 48 weeks on the Top Latin Albums chart. It peaked at No. 4 the week after Camacho died.