After a week spent ranking the best Latin music of 2018, it's time to get back to recent releases. This time around, our playlist features nostalgic hits by Nancy Sanchez and Bad Bunny alongside exploratory tracks by Natti Natasha and Mula with Sol Pereyra.
This playlist, which you can listen to at the bottom of this page, is part of a series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs, updated weekly on Spotify. Catch our weekly thoughts and hot takes below.
Nancy Sanchez, "Mi Nueva Bici"
Just in time for the holidays, Nancy Sanchez, one of my favorite SoCal jazz-slash-mariachi-slash-soul singers, brings us this melodic meditation on the joy of a new bicicleta under the tree and a Christmas with the familia, including a couple of tias media locas.
The beauty of "Mi Nueva Bici" is in the simplicity of the arrangement and how it reveals layers of memories and emotions. Sanchez is releasing a string of singles these days that show off her formidable vocal talents. The video for this track reminded me of days long past. Did I mention I'm a big fan? —Felix Contreras
Bad Bunny, "Desde El Corazón"
Bad Bunny has an uncanny way of tugging at the heart when you least expect it. Like many kids in Puerto Rico, he grew up watching the Banco Popular Holiday Special, now in its 26th year. This year, he made his first contribution to the special in "Desde El Corazón," an old-school urbano track accompanied by a cuatro that paints a picture in its music video of a young Benito Martinez in Vega Baja, P.R. escaping his homework to listen to Tego Calderón's "Pa' Que Retozen" on his Walkman.
The childhood bedroom pans to the 24-year-old Bad Bunny. He gives a laundry list of the greats of reggaeton viejo that came before him, as essential to the island now as salsa. The song is uncompromising in its loyalty to homeland: "Y yo me quedo en Puerto Rico aunque venga María / En el calentón, esto nunca se enfría," he says, praising "La Isla del Encanto, la tierra bendecida."
"Cuales serán los vientos de mañana?" asks the special's narrator, Puerto Rico's treasured poet and filmmaker Jacobo Morales, following the video. Tomorrow's vientos will be the music of Bad Bunny and all the other kids like us. —Stefanie Fernández
Sol Pereyra featuring Mula, "Antireversa"
The magic of a well-thought-out collaboration is allowing for the magic of spontaneity. This seems counter-intuitive, but it is especially true in music.
In the case of "Antireversa, the combination of Argentina's Sol Pereyra with Mula from the Dominican Republic provides proof of my collab theory. Sol Pereyra mines the space between electronic and hip-hop with a series of albums that feature her sultry voice in a variety of stylistic settings. Mula features the twin sisters Anabel and Cristabel Acevedo who used to go by Las Acevedo.
This track benefits from the perfectly blended vocals but also from the spirit of exploration. A perfect pre-holiday pick-me-up. —Felix Contreras
Natti Natasha, "Me Gusta"
Dominican reggaetonera Natti Natasha became one of the most-watched women on YouTube this year, thanks to the success of her videos for "Sin Pijama" with Becky G, the lovelorn bachata "Quién Sabe," and the coattails of last year's billion-view blockbuster "Criminal" with Ozuna. Next in the arsenal is "Me Gusta," a slow jam about female desire consistent with Natasha's will to take over the world — first, YouTube, next, outer space! — on her own terms.
While it's true that Amazonian women like Natasha don't have a hard time getting any kinds of views from male voyeurs, you don't hit the billions in music videos with just looks. Natasha's lyrics and production are sharp in their own right, indicative of a new wave in female-driven reggaeton. It's about time. —Stefanie Fernández
This playlist is updated weekly.