I swear sometimes that Bad Bunny is like a musical gift – more like a blessing – that keeps on giving. Like most of his fans, I've been consistently listening to Benito since his 2018 album titled, X 100PRE. I even saw him live in concert towards the end of 2019. But my true appreciation for the artist definitely happened in 2020 – when he became a pro at taking his fans off-guard with surprise album drops and single releases. While there are a number of things that helped me get through this dark and eerie pandemic, Bad Bunny's music has undeniably brought so many of us moments of joy when the community has needed it the most. But his new surprise single "Volví" with Aventura, which dropped this morning at 12 a.m. EST was straight-up next level for me. But not because it was necessarily better than any of the other singles he's recently put out. It's the overwhelming sense of nostalgia so many of us seemed to feel hearing the song.
I was in my early years of high school when Dominican-American bachata boy band Aventura dropped their 2002 sophomore album, We Broke the Rules. Their hit single from the album, "Obsesión," completely changed the game when it came to bachata music. It was nothing like any bachata song we ever heard before, with its fusion of R&B and bachata. Even with the group on hiatus (they reunited in 2020 for their Inmortal tour) and lead singer Romeo Santos' career completely taken off and going on to become a musical force in his own right, none of us old-school Aventura fans ever forgot the power of "Obsesión." Turn it on at any party with folks 30 and up and trust people will get hyped. Now put those same people together with this generation of Bad Bunny fans (many who are also Aventura and Romeo Santos fans) and expect everyone to lose their minds. I know far too many people who stayed up until 12 a.m. EST to hear this single and that in of itself speaks volumes about how music ignites our communities and brings us together. It's not just music. It's culture. It's nostalgia. And it's something we can bond over and immerse ourselves in, even if just for a few minutes. Our music gets us through the hard times, and it helps us celebrate and rejoice in the good times.
Right before coronavirus really hit hard in the states, El Conejo Malo blessed us with his studio album YHLQMDLG (which stands for "Yo hago lo que me da la gana"). The album made history on the Billboard charts. It made No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and scored the highest-charting all Spanish-language album EVER. In my opinion, this album was fire enough to stand on its own for the remainder of the year, but that's not how Bad Bunny rolls. In the early months of the pandemic, when so many of us were stuck home, he surprised us with a 10-track release, titled Las Que No Iban a Salir (The Ones That Were Not Coming Out). He wrapped up 2020 with his third album of the year, El Último Tour del Mundo, dropped this past November. I was just finally learning the lyrics to his 2021 single release "Yonaguni" and catching up with his recent collaboration album with Tommy Torres, El Playlist de Anoche, which came out on July 23, when I saw his post on IG teasing an upcoming collab with Aventura. It consumed my entire Monday.
I loved everything about this new song from Bad Bunny's reggaeton raps over classic bachata guitar sounds to the pulsing beats that remind me of the days it was normal to hit up a packed dance club in NYC. The video really reinforced those thoughts for me seeing the band and Bad Bunny in the middle of a crowded room jamming out. I can't speak for everyone, but I sure as hell haven't hit up a dance floor since before COVID. I can't remember the last time I danced bachata, reggaeton, salsa – or anything for that matter – with friends or family in a crowded room. But every single time Bad Bunny has dropped music throughout this pandemic, you better believe I've found someone to jam out with whether it was my roomies I sheltered in place with last year in Harlem, my Dominican parents I've been staying with since last summer, or my friends through FaceTime or Zoom calls. I got my co-workers so pumped up for this collab that it even inspired me to make a Bad Bunny-slash-Aventura playlist on Spotify that I shared with anyone who cared enough to listen.
Music has gotten our communities through this hard thump and it will continue to get us through harder times to come. It gives us hope for a better tomorrow and provides a temporary "better right now" feeling when nothing seems to give. So, while I would have loved for Aventura and Bad Bunny to have dropped an entire 10-track album (I'm still praying that's in the works), this single did what it needed to do, and that's enough for me. If you didn't stay up all of last night to see the music video, check it out above!