Reggaeton has been much maligned since it first appeared on the international scene, a scene which it pretty much went on to dominate for a period of two years or so. As Calle 13 put it in their hilarious tune 'Japon', "hasta en Hong Kong se escucha reggaeton-ton". This negative press is I think, a reaction to the sheer ubiquity of reggaeton. There is a near-palpable sense of public outrage that this niche form of dance music, at once both deeply accessible and wholly alien, should have come to dominate our airwaves. Who are these trumped up lotharios whispering sweet nothings whilst grinding up and down on our legs like a sex-crazed chihuahua? Reggaeton lacks the favela chic of Baile Funk (although like its Brazilian cousin it is equal parts working class and mechanised beats), and the implicit threat of Dancehall and Bashment. In my opinion however, it more than makes up for this with its imported Gringo glamour, its unashamed fixation on the ass, and its innate ability to get people dancing. Below are a list of my top 5 tunes.
1. Daddy Yankee - Machucando
Occupying the number 1 spot (as well he should) is THE man of the scene, Daddy Yankee. You may be surprised not to see Gasolina here, which was el hit que pego, but to my ears, this is a far superior song. Baaiiiiilandoooooooo.....
2. Calle 13 - Atrevete-te
Injecting the fun back into the genre, Calle 13 made a huge splash when they first exploded into the global consciousness. Witty, vernacular lyrics (spouted by Latin America's best MC, the Eminem-esque Residente) coupled with snaking, internationally minded beats from accomplished beatsman Visitante, have made for lasting success. Note the cumbia hook on this number which really goes to show how important cumbia is in this part of the world.
3. N.O.R.E & Daddy Yankee feat. Nina Sky - Oye Mi Canto
Aside from Gasolina, this was the tune to make a real splash in the States, probably because a large chunk of it is in English. A truly infectious hook, and a great video make this a guaranteed summer hit.
4. Pitbull feat. Lil' John - The Anthem
Who would have thought coupling reggaeton with Eurorave tunes could work so well. Pitbull truly is one of the GODS of the scene, and quite possibly, one of the scariest looking men I have ever seen. Any tune that samples Calabria is A-OK with me.
5. Wisin & Yandel - Me Estas Tentando
Famous for adding a touch of lovers rock to what can be an at times solely abrasive genre, Wisin & Yandel offer up a slice of more soulful reggaeton. Is it me or does this share a passing resemblance with Timbaland's The Way I Are?