The fact that Reggaeton, Latin, K-pop among others are music are hitting the airways in the US should tell you that there is a cultural shift happening. Not only are radio stations playing them but streaming channels such as YouTube and Spotify (which are uploaded and created mostly by the listener), have largely been Latino artists.
Why the shift?
As it pertains to Reggaeton specifically, it could be associated with the growing Latino population in the US and globalization. Although raggaeton began, in Panama, it was actually in Puerto Rico where it really took off and now it has exploded to all of Latin America.
Like hip-hop (where much of reggeaton style is mixed in) where it spoke of social problems, raggaeton mostly is about poverty and class inequality in Latin America. Although most singers do hail from Puerto Rico, it was in the urban areas of Puerto Rico where they would talk about street violence, struggles of urban life and machismo. It has now turned into very sexual and explicit lyrics and objectification of women.
Although this music is a fusion of reggae, ton and other Latin rhythms the result of this globalization of pop culture and music does stem from American influence.
Yet, beginning in 2016 and 2017, Latin music specifically reggateton and trap have become mainstream and overtaking English songs .Now they are the ones reaching out to the reggaeton artists
Reggaeton took a while to reach Latin America but it has exploded particularly in Colombia. Latin America because of its social and economic inequalities, the listeners resonated with it, Colombian artists have risen to the top of American, and international pop charts via the streaming sites such as YouTube and Spotify.
Although raggaeton itself is a musical fusion of reggae and rap and hip-hop mixed with Latin and Caribbean beats is what makes this style so irresistible to dance to and listen to.
All this coupled with very sexual and suggestive lyrics is a mix that has captured the attention of the urban youth.
Lyrically speaking is another matter altogether.
Given that most are recorded in Spanish, most did not mind not understanding it, since the music is good.
Per YouGov, a market research firm conducted a study in Hispanic music in 2018; they found that 47% of 1210 millennial respondents listened to music in a different language other than English. Of the total respondents 52% stated that Spanish was their language of preference and among Hispanics, it was 89%. (No surprise there)
However, when asked if they have to understand the lyrics to enjoy the song, half of them said they do not need to because they enjoy the rhythm and its fun.
In 2018, the three most views and streamed videos were all Latino reggaeton singers with nearly billion views per video. In addition, if last year’s Despacito was any indication well yes, I can vow for that.
This is quite telling because the US has always been and is for a large part the main exporter of pop culture, movies, music, and sports. Because there are three major companies controlling 80% of the music industry the output through radio stations and charts, music was and is of course mostly in English.
Music at some time was very homogeneous these companies did not believe that a song would not be sellable or likable if the content was non-English. A good example of this was 1984 Nena has hit 99 Red Balloons. This song was already a hit in Europe but before it was released in the US and UK it was translated to English for the American listener.
Yet, beginning in 2016 and 2017, Latin music specifically reggeateton and trap have become mainstream and overtaking English language songs. In addition, they have the streaming companies to thank for that.
Just for fun, I decided to link aa Reddit forum because I thought it was interesting to read what type of music and why they like about foreign music and it is not just about language and lyrics.