The past year was tough, agonizing and unprecedented. But in terms of music, 2020 was our Latin year.
Despite the shutdown of touring, Latin music — defined as music performed predominantly in Spanish — recorded unprecedented consumption growth. It ended the year as the fastest growing genre in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Globally, Latin over-indexed in YouTube charts and Spotify’s fastest-growing user base in the world was Latin America. According to the IFPI’s annual 2020 Global Music Report in April, for the fifth consecutive year, Latin America was the fastest-growing region in the world.
Beyond the stats, however, this was the year in which the world finally seemed to not only hear but also see Latin music, recognizing both beats and artists in unprecedented fashion. Of course, movements don’t happen in a vacuum. Here are the 10 news stories that shifted the lens for Latin music in 2020.
1. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira co-headline the first all-Latin Super Bowl Halftime Show (with Bad Bunny and J Balvin as supporting stars)
For the first time in history, every act on the stage was Latin, a momentous statement that underscored a unique moment in this nation’s history: One filled with divisiveness that this show sought to mend, but also, one full of diversity like never before. Performances were in English and Spanish, full of symbolism, messages and multicultural significance (among other things, the country was officially introduced to Colombian champeta). At the end of the day, Super Bowl ratings increased 1.7% over the previous year, according to Nielsen data, thanks in part, to the Spanish-language simulcast of the game, Fox said.
2. The Black Eyed Peas Go Bilingual (and top the charts)
It took a decade and a bilingual song in English and Spanish for what was once the biggest pop group in the world to get back on the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Black Eyed Peas’ Spanish-titled “Ritmo,” featuring J Balvin, topped Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart and was the lynchpin for the bilingual Translation, the group’s first outing since Fergie’s 2011 departure.
3. Bad Bunny Scores, and Scores Again
Bad Bunny’s surprise album YHLQMDLG, released in February, came in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the highest debut ever for an all Spanish album. Not to worry. Nine months later, he upped the ante, debuting at No. 1 on the chart with El ultimo tour del mundo. It marked a first for Spanish-language music that few people thought could ever come.
4. And on the subject of Bad Bunny…
The Puerto Rican rap/trap star ended the year as the most-streamed artist globally on Spotify, also a first for an act who only performs in Spanish.
5. Maluma tops the Global chart
Billboard’s Global charts debuted in September with Maluma at the helm of the ex U.S. list with his all-Spanish “Hawái.” It was uncontested confirmation that Latin had become global. Two months later, The Weeknd jumped on the song, singing in English and Spanish, also a first.
6. Maluma Goes to Hollywood
And on the subject of Maluma, the Colombian music star announced his stardom in a totally different realm, co-starring next to Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson in the upcoming feature film Marry Me. It is the most prominent role in Hollywood in at least 25 years for a Latin music star. Along the way, Maluma and Lopez graced the cover of Billboard.
7. J Balvin Gets a namesake McDonald’s Meal
The fast-food giant chose Balvin as the second celebrity (following Travis Scott) to get a namesake meal since basketball icon Michael Jordan. Balvin also released a signature Nike Air Jordan 1 shoe. Both accomplishments underscore the commercial and marketing appeal of Latin acts.
8. “Dákiti” by Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez Is the Most Listened-to Song in the Planet
Shortly after Maluma made his Global ex U.S. No. 1 debut, “Dákiti” — an all-Spanish reggaetón jam — came in at No. 1 in the overall global chart. It was another show of global power for music in Spanish.
9. Latin Billionaire Club
In the last week of September, Latin music, defined as music performed predominantly in Spanish, surpassed 1 billion streams in the U.S. in a single week for the first time. The appetite for Spanish-language music was finally in evidence in the U.S. as well.
10. Rosalía Lands Nike Deal and Snags ‘Vogue’ Cover
The rising Spanish star consolidated her global presence with a major Nike deal and commercial campaign as well as landing the cover of Vogue in America, becoming the first music artist who performs only in Spanish to do grace the cover of the fashion magazine.