SINGER AND FORMER AVENTURA FRONTMAN ROMEO SANTOS EXPLAINS WHY THE DOMINICAN MUSIC GENRE IS THE MOVEMENT TO MOVE WITH
VIBE: Why do you think bachata has crept into the mainstream in the past few years?
Romeo Santos: What really helped the genre is many more artists are jumping to do this type of music. I’ve got a superstar like Usher singing bachata, a tune featuring Lil Wayne. I’m offering people more than just bachata. That captures a new audience that would listen to bachata because Usher is singing.
What was that process like bringing Usher into your world on “Promise”? Did he acclimate easily?
That was actually a big concern. I was like, “Is he going to feel it’s corny?” But it was a really good experience. An artist like Usher who’s just a great contemporary music contributor, it makes it easy because he adapts to anything. And he’s a great dancer—in a matter of minutes, he was already dancing like he’s been dancing bachata for years. [On “All Aboard”] with Lil Wayne, we didn’t do bachata because that would’ve been weird. We stuck with something I was sure he’d nail, and he’s familiar with, which is R&B.
We all remember reggaeton’s considerable, yet brief, takeover of mainstream music. Did you learn anything from that period?
Yeah, that’s a very good example that even something good can be overexposed. I’ve learned that you can do something great, but you have to continue reinventing yourself as an artist. So by the time someone else is copying your style, you have something else to offer your audience. What happened with reggaeton is that many artists kept recycling the same sound. But there are a lot of reggaeton artists that are still in their prime—like Daddy Yankee—because they’ve chosen to continue growing, to offer people more than just reggaeton. That’s where I learned to always be able to try something new and not be afraid.
What’s the most unexpected setting where you’ve witnessed bachata dance?
When I was touring Europe [with Aventura] seven or eight years ago, 80 percent of the audience there wasn’t Latin. They were Europeans, Italians, people from Germany—and they were dancing bachata. I was on YouTube the other night and amazed that I saw these Japanese women in Japan—I guess it was a Latin club—and they were dancing to “Promise.” They were dancing with Dominicans, but that’s just a sign that the dancing is becoming just as popular as the genre.
Victor Cruz—wide receiver of the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants—incorporates salsa in his touchdown celebrations. Think that’s the next Latin craze?
[Laughs] It’s a good start, you know! —John Kennedy