The Sound of Latin America

I’ve written lots of posts about what Latin America looks like, what it feels like and what it tastes like. But I don’t think I’ve really said that much about what it sounds like.

The answer to that one is simple. Latin America sounds like reggaeton. For those not in the know, reggateon is a easily the most popular form of pop music across the continent, essentially a Latin form of R&B and Hip-Hop. You hear it EVERYWHERE – on the street, in bars and clubs, in markets, blaring from people’s mobile phones, on the radio in buses, even in pharmacies – and at first I found it pretty annoying. But pretty quickly one tune began to stand out. It worked its way into my brain without me realising it, until one day I found myself singing along to a song I didn’t even know the name of.

I soon noticed the song was everywhere. I was hearing it literally dozens of times a day, a pattern that was to be repeated across the whole continent for the six months I was travelling there. And that song was ‘Llamada de Emergencia’ (Emergency Call) by Daddee Yankee. From Puerto Rico, he’s the biggest star of Reggaeton, and from what I can make out, his latest hit was number one pretty much everywhere. I reckon it earns its success by being a bit more melodic than your average reggaeton number, especially with its infuriatingly catchy chorus.

In the end, I grow to love it (and its similar sounding, and nearly as ubiquitous follow-up ‘Que Tengo Que Hacer’ (What I have to do)) – as did many of the other backpackers I met. On the other hand, there were quite a few who detested it even more. Have a listen (it takes about 45 seconds before the song starts properly in this video) and see which side you come down on…

I have a feeling this is one of those things that’s great while you’re abroad, but probably doesn’t travel home all that well.

One response to “The Sound of Latin America

  1. How times have changed!!My memory of the sound of Peru in 1990 was El Condor Pasa EVERYWHERE on panpipes…was fun at the beginning but at the end..aggghhh..Have never listened to a pan pipe since!

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