Possibly you’ve heard, however this longtime weekly column is about to go month-to-month. Whereas I’m excited to combine up my contributions to this website, I undoubtedly couldn’t let a pop-column pivot happen with out a long-overdue tribute to Unhealthy Bunny, who has little question loved essentially the most profitable yr in pop to this point. In truth, final week Billboard declared that the Latin lure / reggaeton innovator’s 2022 album, Un Verano Sin Ti, has overtaken the once-unassailable Encanto soundtrack because the yr’s hottest album within the US. Additionally this previous week, former President Obama added Unhealthy Bunny and Bomba Estereo‘s “Ojitos Lindos” to his 2022 summer season playlist. Not unhealthy for a begin, and the rabbit gap goes a lot deeper than that.
Sure, an Obama cosign is simply barely scratching the floor of every thing Unhealthy Bunny (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) has achieved, each in 2022 and since he discovered worldwide success about half a decade in the past. Unhealthy Bunny is starring in a Marvel pro-wrestling superhero film (one thing a couple of Spider-Man antagonist; I’m significantly shedding curiosity within the ever-expanding Marvelverse). He’s preventing Brad Pitt within the much-hyped Bullet Prepare. He joined Rosalía on Saturday Evening Reside. Again in 2020, Unhealthy Bunny grew to become the primary artist to have an all-Spanish-language album (El Último Tour Del Mundo) high the Billboard 200. Oh, and no huge deal, however he was Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2021.
As anticipated, Un Verano Sin Ti (A Summer season With out You) additionally debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and achieved the most important streaming week for any Latin album in historical past. Final week, the album grew to become the primary since Adele’s 2015 blockbuster 25 to maneuver greater than 100,000 equal album items in its first 11 weeks. Yesterday, it logged its seventh nonconsecutive week at #1.
By way of overwhelmingly constructive statistics, Unhealthy Bunny’s received them. And for a extremely good motive: Along with making actually, actually ridiculously catchy pop music, Unhealthy Bunny — and Un Verano Sin Ti particularly — is consultant of a historic second steeped in cognitive dissonance. On one hand, in 2022 Latin pop continues to reign supreme on the charts, and Spanish-singing performers actually don’t must report in English to see crossover success. On the identical time, the American Latinx group — which is huge and made up of quite a few cultures and traditions — is liable to being lowered to San Antonio “breakfast tacos” by US politicians. (Technically Jill Biden on this case, however that poorly phrased assertion is harking back to the time Tr*mp posed with a taco bowl.) In different phrases, Spanish-speaking group makes up roughly 13.5% of the US inhabitants, and but when a stadium-filling, globally obsessed-over artist like Unhealthy Bunny opts to not sing in English, one way or the other that’s nonetheless thought to be revolutionary.
However, cultural mix is high of thoughts for Unhealthy Bunny on the beach-playlist-ready Un Verano Sin Ti. Upon releasing his fourth solo album, Unhealthy Bunny sat down for a deep-diving profile in GQ the place he spoke about his costume for the 2022 Met Gala. His interpretation of the amorphous-sounding theme “In America: An Anthology of Trend” was to pick out a glance impressed by Latin America. “As a result of it’s America too,” he stated. Therein lies Unhealthy Bunny’s complete creative ethos, and arguably explains his widespread attraction. He’s proudly Latin (hailing from Puerto Rico) however just isn’t reined in by boarders, sonically or in any other case; Un Verano Sin Ti was partially recorded within the Dominican Republic and options a wide array of sounds, drawing from reggaeton, reggae, cumbia, Caribbean (bomba, mambo, bachata), dancehall, dance-pop, and techno. The perfect half? It’s all funneled via Bunny’s futuristic imaginative and prescient. Plus, Un Verano Sin Ti is simply plain enjoyable.
I’m at all times saying (to my husband largely, who’s contractually certain to hearken to me theorize about pop music once I’m not doing it right here) that it takes a steadiness of parts to provide a worldwide pop star: Clearly, you want some core expertise, however it might probably’t go anyplace in a vacuum. It’s a mixture of sensible and artistic. You want an ear for hooks, robust trade relationships, some understanding of social media, in-person charisma, private model — and that you must make all of it look straightforward. Even unintentional. And when you get to the highest (wherever the highest appears like for you), strive to not get complacent. “Possibly, for some folks, it’s completely different in that the upper they go, the much less stress they really feel, as a result of possibly they’re assured that every thing they do can be successful,” Unhealthy Bunny informed GQ. “However I’m the other — the extra I purchase an viewers, the extra I am going up, the extra stress I really feel to maintain going. Generally, I can’t sleep desirous about that. I am going days with out sleeping.”
As his worldwide fame has exploded over the previous six years, Unhealthy Bunny has expanded his subgenres whereas not caving to the presumed stress to sing in English. Each visitor on Un Verano Sin Ti has a Latin background: the reggaeton duo Chencho Corleone, rapper Jhay Cortez, Tony Dize, and Rauw Alejandro (all of whom are Puerto Rican), Bomba Estéreo (Colombian), and Buscabulla (primarily based in NYC however initially from Puerto Rico), and the Marías, an LA indie-pop group who sing in Spanish and English. Unhealthy Bunny has collaborated with the likes of Dua Lipa, Cardi B, and Drake, however one will get the sense that he does these not as a consequence of numbers or necessity however as a result of why not?
Unhealthy Bunny’s style versatility, agile supply, and intelligent wordplay has been well-documented for years, starting with X 100PRE, transferring via the canon-nodding YHLQMDLG, and increasing on the alternative-leaning El Último Tour del Mundo. On Un Verano Sin Ti, we get heat — actually, as a result of it’s completely a summertime album, and figuratively, as each tune exudes emotional intimacy and introspection.
Boasting 23 tracks (essentially the most of any Unhealthy Bunny album), Un Verano Sin Ti can simply get the seashore get together began or wind it down, with its straightforward beats, gentle synths, and celebratory horns, which present up with precise wave crashes on the Obama-tapped “Ojitos Lindos.” There’s sun-dappled pleasure and late-summertime unhappiness on the bachata/tropicale jam “Después de la Playa,” which is each a horn-packed blast with eerie undertones. Like should you transfer an excessive amount of, you’ll dehydrate, go out, and get yanked into the surf. There’s additionally soothing bossa nova (“Yo No Soy Celoso”), sweaty dancehall (“Agosto”), joyful dance-pop (“Neverita”), and grooving reggae (“Me Fui de Vacaciones”).
As Carina del Valle Schorske identified in a 2020 New York Instances profile of Unhealthy Bunny, “Technically, reggaeton isn’t actually ‘from’ anybody place — Jamaica, Panama and New York Metropolis have been all essential websites in its growth within the early ’90s — however it established itself as a business pressure in Puerto Rico, which is uniquely positioned to amplify diasporic music.”
Clearly, borders have by no means meant a lot to Unhealthy Bunny both. By way of each music and trend, his model is continually evolving with each album rollout. This album’s title is equally amorphous. As he informed Apple Music’s Ebro Darden: “I feel ‘with out’ [is] loads of issues. Might be like an individual, might be like pals, might be like one thing that you just miss loads about summer season. This complete album is [the muse, the inspiration comes from] all my summers. The vibe, the sound, even the featurings.” Plus, after we consider a “summer season album,” we have a tendency to think about the music as solely being concerning the good instances: holidays, lengthy days, tans, swimming pools, BBQs, no matter. For Unhealthy Bunny, although, this time of yr just isn’t boiled down to at least one factor, feeling, individual, or place. It’s for all of us, wherever we occur to be.