What's Hot On The Billboard Latin Charts

Apr 21, 2012
Originally published on April 22, 2012 8:23 pm

Although Billboard's Latin Songs chart has long been a crucial indicator for Spanish-language music in the U.S. market, the tune that has topped the chart for the past three weeks isn't actually in Spanish. The international hit, Michel Teló's "Ai Se Eu Te Pego," is the first-ever Portuguese song to hit No. 1 — thanks in part to its popularity on YouTube, as well as with soccer fans.

In advance of the Billboard Latin Music Awards on April 26, Billboard en Español managing editor Judy Cantor-Navas chats with NPR's Guy Raz about Teló and other artists currently heating up the Latin charts.

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And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. And it's time now for music.


RAZ: This song by Brazilian superstar Michel Telo is burning up the Billboard Latin charts right now. And normally, the list is a guide to the most popular Spanish language music in the American market, but right now, this song, as you might have guessed, is not Spanish at all. Judy Cantor-Navas is the managing editor of Billboard en Espanol. She's with me now to talk Michel Telo and other top tracks on the Billboard Latin charts. Judy, welcome.

JUDY CANTOR-NAVAS: Thank you, Guy. It's great to be here.

RAZ: This song, it's called "Ai Se Eu Te Pego". I think I've got that right, right? Something like that?

CANTOR-NAVAS: Yep. Sounds like you got it. Now, you just need to learn the dance that goes with it.


RAZ: OK. So the English translation is "Oh, If I Catch You." It's the number one song on the Billboard Hot Latin song - charts right now. It is not in Spanish.

CANTOR-NAVAS: And it is actually the first time we have a Portuguese song that hit number one on this chart.

RAZ: And how did it become such a huge hit?

CANTOR-NAVAS: Well, really, it was all because of soccer. What happened was that some of Brazil's - the best known soccer players starting with Neymar, the star of the Santos team, and Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo and some other players, they just started to dance to the song at games after scoring a goal. It became the goal celebration song.

And then they started posting videos of the players dancing to the song on the field and also in the locker room, and these videos have been seen millions of times on YouTube right now. And actually, the video of Telo performing this song has been watched almost 300 million times.

RAZ: Wow.

CANTOR-NAVAS: I mean, it also helps that it has kind of this frisky little dance that goes with it. If you remember the Macarena...

RAZ: Oh, yes.

CANTOR-NAVAS: ...the whole thing, yeah. So it's kind of like that, and it's an easy dance to do. So it's just really spread around the world.


RAZ: It's the Brazilian singer Michel Telo with the current number one hit on the Billboard Latin charts. You've brought us another artist that you've been listening to a lot and been writing about, and his name is Prince Royce. The song is called "Las Cosas Pequenas" or "The Little Things." Let's take a listen to it first.


RAZ: So, Judy, this has like a real R&B vibe to it, and the guy that sings it, Prince Royce, he's actually American. He was born in the U.S.

CANTOR-NAVAS: Yes. He is American. His parents are from the Dominican Republic. He's 22 years old. He's doing a style of music that's become known as urban bachata. It's really mixing R&B with bachata, which is this tropical syncopated rhythm. And I think it appeals to all generations.

RAZ: And that's the thing about him that (unintelligible) that he appeals to a lot of first or second generation Spanish speakers in America because he is bilingual, he's American.

CANTOR-NAVAS: Yeah. Well, he really appeals to young Latinos because he's just like them. You know, he's got R&B, he's got kind of a hip-hop style. And then he grew up in his house listening to bachata and boleros, so he's got it all. And it's not like a forced attempt at crossover.


RAZ: That's the new track from Prince Royce called "Las Cosas Pequenas." Let's move on to the last track that you brought for us.


RAZ: Who are we listening to right now?

CANTOR-NAVAS: This is 3Ball Monterrey. And if you see it written, it looks like 3Ball MTY. What they're referring to is a kind of music called tribal, like tribal music.


RAZ: It's an electronic music, and it's mixed up with cumbia and other Mexican rhythms. They call their particular brand the 3Ball guarachero. And it's - you know, it's loud. It's kind of very fast, hectic.


RAZ: And this has been on the charts, the Latin charts, for 28 weeks.


RAZ: It was number one in March; it's now at number three, but that is - that's amazing.

CANTOR-NAVAS: What was more surprising to me was that it's really found a regional Mexican music audience as well. And - but it's surprising because you think it's more for an electronic music, the dance crowd than the kind of people who are going to usually be listening to corridos or to more acoustic regional Mexican genres.

RAZ: So this is appealing to, like, an older audience and a younger one as well?

CANTOR-NAVAS: Yeah. I mean, in some ways, it's doing a bit of what Prince Royce is doing. It's really crossing generations, and it's also crossing more into the mainstream. And, you know, both of these artists are experimenting with different rhythms and genres. They're mixing up the old and the new. So they're changing music that we're listening to in the United States, and they're really changing the definition of what Latin music is at the same time.

RAZ: That's the band 3Ball MTY. They'll be at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami next week. All three of the artists we've just heard from will be performing at the Billboard Latin Music Awards this Thursday, April 26. Judy Cantor-Navas is the managing editor of Billboard en Espanol. Judy, thanks so much.

CANTOR-NAVAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INTENTALO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.