How Romeo Santos’ music embodies the excellence of Hispanic Heritage

Hispanic Heritage month coming to an end, we took some time to shine a light on the “King of Bachata” and his influence on the Hispanic community.

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Just hearing the name “Romeo Santos” ignites joy and adoration in the hearts of many in the Hispanic community. The Dominican American singer, songwriter and producer has made a great mark in the music world since his days as a lead vocalist of the bachata band, Aventura. Santos embodies Hispanic heritage excellence to the max and is the “King of Bachata” for a reason.

Growing up in a Mexican household, hearing Santos’ music was the norm and strikes joy in my heart to this day. I remember the feeling of cleaning the house with my family playing Formula Vol.1 and 2. I remember “Odio” playing at my cousins’ quinceañera, birthday parties, and every other family event. There is nothing like hanging out with family and screaming “Hola, me llamo Romeo” once “Propuesta Indecente” came on the radio.

Like me, many of the Hispanic community grew up with Santos’s music and can testify that there is something truly special about him and his art.

Since Santos was a child, he had a heart for music. He was initially exposed to music by his parents. Yet, Santos later expressed his passion for music through joining a church choir at 13. Later in his teen years, Santos formed a group called “Los Teenagers”, the group that would later become “Aventura”. Aventura would go on to make a name for themselves due to their incorporation of hip hop sounds with bachata.

The idea of mixing hip-hop, a genre that naturally drew in younger, different audiences, and bachata, a traditional genre of music created by Dominican immigrants in the 60’s, is a true genius. This combination provided a relatability to Dominican American youth that was not present before.

As a result of this innovation, it was no surprise when Aventura came to hit big-time success in 2004. Their song “Obsesión” became increasingly popular within the New York-area. The hit sparked national success as well as heightened popularity in hitting top spots in France, Italy and Germany.

Romeo provided vocals and wrote the lyrics for many of Aventura's successful hits. In 2011, Santos announced publicly that he was going solo to pursue other possibilities. He signed with Sony Music and went on to create more music and arguably his most appreciated albums, “Formula Vol.1” and “Formula Vol.2.” He continued incorporating hip-hop sounds and bachata together to maintain his true style. In these albums, Santos collaborated with Nicki Minaj, Santana Drake.

Santos, however, still remained true to his roots. He stuck with the style created by his experience in Aventura even with these collaborations. He even continued to sing and write songs in Spanish rather than adapting his songs to fit the language of his featured artists. He wanted to keep the essence of bachata in his songs.

For the time, this was a speed bump for Santos since there was a great amount of push by radio stations to make English versions of songs if they contained English-speaking artists. Yet, Santos fought against it to keep his music in his image. Santos’s decision paved the way for other collaborations in bachata and other genres of Spanish music. Nowadays, songs like “Despacito” and collabs with Spanish-speaking and English-speaking artists are the norm, with no pressure to change.

Santos also did not shy away from the romance. Bachata is deep-rooted in romantic elements like guitar ballads and danceable rhythms. Songs like “Propuesta Indecente” embody the sensual, charisma greatly. In “Propuesta Indecente”, Santos voices his desire for a one night stand with a mysterious lady. He does not hold back with vulgarity or lust—Santos just sings his hopes for the night enchantingly.

I believe that many songs that make the top ten lists and become trending are purely English. This is surprising because the United Statesis a country mixed with different ethnicities and racial backgrounds. To see English-speaking artists and Spanish-speaking artists collaborate only recently in music throws me for a loop. For Romeo Santos to open that door and remain resilient is honorable and likely the reason artists like Bad Bunny and Ozuna have chosen to collaborate in the same fashion.

Santos’ ability to adapt his romantic and passionate persona is why he is regarded as a sex symbol. Even his songs from the days of Aventura present Santos’s charisma. He combines his attractiveness with his “Romeo” persona and his music’s vulgarity and passion push his sex appeal to the next level.

Yet, Santos continues to be there for his fans and adopt the “Romeo” persona. He even goes as far as pulling fans on stage to dance or singing to them while on tours. His way of embracing his image is another element to be appreciated. Santos once commented that he knew that his fans loved him and believed he was attractive. So as a result, he was going to “try [his] best to make them believe the illusion.”

Santos has gone on to create more music and continue to be a beacon to other Hispanic artists as well as his fans. His albums have racked up great sales and achieved great acclaim. The singer has even sold out Madison Square Garden twice as a testament to his success and talent.

Santos’ music both in his days as lead singer for Aventura and as a solo artist impacts the Hispanic community in the best possible way. These songs strike a chord in the hearts of many and continue to be played despite their age. His career paved the way for innovations in bachata and gave identity to Bronx Dominican Americans.

Romeo Santos, an innovator, a true talent and a proud Dominican American who aims to be genuine both in his music and himself. He is a fixture of the Hispanic music scene and for years will evoke wonderful memories for me and many other Hispanic Americans.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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