What Bad Bunny’s Global Dominance In 2022 Means For Latin Music And Culture - Forbes
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What Bad Bunny’s Global Dominance In 2022 Means For Latin Music And Culture - Forbes

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Bad Bunny performs onstage during his World’s Hottest Tour at … [+] SoFi Stadium on September 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
In a massive year for artists like Taylor Swift and Harry Styles the unquestioned biggest pop star of 2022 was Bad Bunny. The year-end accolades say it all. He was Billboard’s top artist of the year and had the first ever all Spanish album, Un Verano Sin Ti, to be the year-end number one album.
He also scored the top spot on the year-end streaming charts for Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify. Add to that he dominated the touring market with the number one tour of the year, grossing nearly $400 million. And all told the Puerto Rican rapper was the biggest act of the year and it wasn’t close.
Watching Bad Bunny at any of his L.A. shows and you could see his success is about much more than numbers. At his SoFi Stadium shows September 30 and October 1 the number of flags, from all sorts of Latin countries, were astounding. His global success clearly brings with it a great deal of pride. I spoke with singer/songwriter Kelly Vargas and music industry veteran Ophelia Zuniga about what Bad Bunny’s popularity, and the SoFi show, meant to them.
Steve Baltin: How did the show make you feel proud?
Kelly Vargas: It was an absolute privilege to be seated in a famous Los Angeles stadium with over 70,000 people celebrating my culture, music, countries, fashion, dance and passion. An unforgettable and iconic experience for any Latinx person born and raised in the U.S. It made me feel extremely proud to see such amazing appreciation and celebration of my Latin culture and roots.
Ophelia Zuniga: As a Latinx, more specifically Mexican-American, I was extremely proud to look around the SoFi Stadium and see all of the different faces of people proudly waving a variation of Latin American flags. I had a moment where I stood on the edge and just soaked it all in. Tears filled my eyes and I was like ‘This is us, this is beyond Los Angeles, this is the world, this is global… Bad Bunny did this. Bad Bunny gave us this.”
Baltin: What makes Bad Bunny special? What differentiates him from previous Latin stars?
Zuniga: This is something anyone can recognize, even if you don’t speak Spanish or listen to his music. Bad Bunny is a unicorn. He is an artist that just hit us like a meteor a few years ago and around 2018 he had a breakthrough in the general music market, and is in no way slowing down or fading out anytime soon. In my opinion, he is the new general market. Latin music is taking over. When it comes to presentation, Bad Bunny is a fashion icon. He sets no limit and expresses himself pushing boundaries and stereotypes. In a Latin music space where we have seen a lot of ‘machismo.’ Bad Bunny is a breath of fresh-air and has never paid mind to gender norms and has been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Prime example, his “Yo Perreo Sola” music video where he dresses in drag and brings awareness to social issues. But beyond that video, Bad Bunny wears whatever he wants, looks good doing it, and will use it to make social statements. His sound is unique, his voice is one we’ve never heard before. He fuses many of the Latin music genres that we love so much. He even puts some back on the map for these new Generations (Z & Beyond) such as merengue and mambo. The beautiful thing about Bad Bunny is that he is proud of his culture and proud to be a Latino and that is undeniably shown throughout his work.
Vargas: I am currently vacationing in Costa Rica to visit family and friends. I had this conversation with locals about this exact question. Unlike any other Latin artist, the integration and transcendence of countries and cultures that Bad Bunny has brought to the USA and Latin America is like any other Latin artist. He is not just a singer-songwriter or recording artist. He is a unique Latin brand that brings fusions of Latin trap, hip-hop, rap and more traditional Latin genres such as salsa and merengue (i.e “Después de la Playa”). He brought progression, color and change to our fashion, music and communities, something that I haven’t seen much in previous Latin stars. Above all, he has received and reached global recognition and popularity across multiple continents with this unique brand.
Baltin: What was your favorite moment of the show on October 1st, 2022 at SoFi Stadium?
Vargas: He is an emerging and new Latin artist, but throughout this show and his global tour Bad Bunny brought out several important figures from reggaeton’s past, such as Chencho Corleone of Plan B, Jowell y Randy and Ivy Queen. Paying tribute to the culture and history of reggaeton, one of Latin America’s most famous music genres. He also brought out our Cardi B to perform several songs. This was an extremely iconic moment for me as Latinx independent artist who was born and raised in the US.
Zuniga: Easy, when he brought out Ivy Queen as a surprise guest to perform and embrace her. Not just because I am a huge fan of hers, but because he showed her the respect she deserves as the “Queen of Reggaeton.” She is one of the pioneers of reggaeton music and a woman, a combination we didn’t see much. Bad Bunny is currently the biggest star in the world and for him to share his platform and stage with her felt like a service that he did for all of the new generations that did not grow up listening to Ivy Queen. Bad Bunny is deeply rooted and he is not just a performer, he is a true artist and a real compassionate human that appreciates our culture and connects with anyone willing to give him a chance. He has made millions of people feel seen and important, while providing joy or a place to escape. I’m excited to support and experience the longevity of his career.



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