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Maluma, the newest Latin music star

Maluma in concert in 2017. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Maluma in concert in 2017. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
If someone gives you the two keywords pop music and Colombia, chances are that you will return Shakira. But if you are more up to date and follow the songs that have gathered tens of millions of views on YouTube, you might rather say Maluma. The views counter of his new song Sobrio, released last July, is at 23 million.اضافة اعلان

The young Colombian singer, now 27, already claims a successful career that started 10 years ago. It is, however, in the last couple of years that his global scale stardom has been confirmed and continues to rise exponentially.

The voice is compelling, and the music superbly produced. The singing is essentially done in Spanish, but this does not seem to deter those listeners who do not understand the language. In the artist’s own words: “So yes, I want to release some music in English, but I will try to keep the balance — songs in Spanish and English.”

Maluma, with his powerful tenor voice, good looks, and stage presence, does bring a fresh image and sound to the Latin scope. The music in itself, however, is not much different from what other artists have already brought us, like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, or Luis Fonsi, artists that Maluma admits have influenced him. He also cites Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson.

The production consists of the same old mix of mainstream pop drumming and guitar patterns, sometimes mixed with salsa, calypso, rumba, or mambo beats. The melodies too, however catchy and pleasant they may be, are nothing new. The instrumental arrangements are also very similar to most Latin music that has been generated since 2010.

The producers have become very clever doing this kind of mix, often coming up with rhythms that are attractive new hybrids, and that end up becoming fashion. In the overwhelming number of cases, they target dance crowds. Which, of course, does not prevent “listeners-only” too to enjoy the songs.

A proof of it: Hawái, a song released by Maluma one year ago, has 100 million views on YouTube and 800 million on the Sweden-based Spotify audio streaming platform. An average 30 million regularly listen to Maluma on the music channel every month. As other examples, Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish are doing better, and are in third and 14th position, with 70 and 52 million monthly listeners, respectively.

Mentioning Maluma, American Billboard music magazine said “Maluma's brand of reggaeton syncs nicely with his image, managing to be both romantic and raw. His sound represents an evolution of the genre.” Not everybody would necessarily agree with the word “evolution”!

Latin music from South America remains an unabated popular trend. From megastar Colombian Shakira to Puerto-Rican Luis Fonsi or Panamanian Erika Ender, to name only a few, the attractive Latin rhythms and exotic flavor keep competing with the more rock-based American-English stream. It is a global phenomenon. The large Hispanic community living abroad, and mainly present in the USA, certainly plays an important role in the trend.

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