For years, Mexico has been the major path for Latin pop success in the United States. During the heyday of Latin pop in the 1990s, it was routine for acts like Chayanne and Ricky Martin to spend months on end in Mexico in order to break stateside. That requirement has loosened somewhat as an increasing number of Latin acts — including Romeo Santos, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar and Prince Royce — break from the States.
Having music travel north from Mexico was virtually automatic when a majority of the U.S. Latin population was Mexican immigrants hungry for any connection to home. But the growing U.S.-born Hispanic demo is now seeking its own sound, leading labels to search for a bridge between their Mexican acts and a younger U.S. audience.
Take Belinda, for example. The 23-year-old Mexican pop star had already made her foray into the mainstream with her role as Marisol in the 2006 Disney TV movie “The Cheetah Girls 2,” including appearing on four songs on the movie’s soundtrack. Now, her recently released album, “Catarsis” (Universal), includes the bilingual single “I Love You (Te Quiero),” featuring Pitbull. And in another nod to the U.S. market, Belinda is currently a judge on Mundo Fox’s “El Factor X.”
“Definitely, a hit in Mexico gives you a story to tell and helps with the border and the West Coast,” says Luana Pagani, head of the U.S. offices of management/entertainment company SeiTrak, which handles Belinda. “But it’s essential to have an element that connects U.S. Mexicans who are influenced by local culture with the artist and the music, particularly in markets like the East Coast and Puerto Rico, where there are different cultures [other than Mexico] at work.”
Thalia another big Mexican star, last year recorded her new live album, “Habitame Siempre.” It includes a duet with fellow Mexicans Leonel Garcia, Jesus Navarro and Samo, as well as pairings with Michael Buble, Robbie Williams and U.S.-born Latin artist Royce on her current single.
Indeed, Royce, a young artist born and raised stateside, is an appealing bridge for many acts, beginning with Mexican rock icon Mana, which last year featured him on its remake of “El Verdadero Amor Perdona.” The track, originally included on Mana’s 2011 album “Drama y Luz,” was rerecorded with Royce and became a hit radio single in 2012.