As we melt into the thick of the summer's second half, Latin artists of every genre are gearing up to soundtrack the golden hours of late summer. Kim Viera's "Como" with Daddy Yankee is a yearning celebration of fleeting summer love that reaches from "right now to forever." Arcangel released his long-awaited fifth album, Ares, with some surprising genre twists. Dillon Francis devotes a whole album to the concept of the "Featured Latin Artist." And a rising Mexican regional singer pens a traditional song for the future of immigrant youth.
This playlist is part of a weekly Spotify series of NPR Music's favorite Latin songs that will be updated every Wednesday. Catch our weekly thoughts and hot takes here.
Kim Viera feat. Daddy Yankee, "Como"
Nuyorican newcomer Kim Viera's first major single hits like your fifth shot of the night at the precise moment when you lose all fear. "Como" follows a simple pop-reggaeton formula, with a breezy guitar riff and gentle backbeat punctuated by sporadic "sube, subes" from none other than Daddy Yankee, and its video is liquid gold. "You wanna come ride my wave like the ocean / You wanna kiss on my skin like the sun," Viera sings. The Spanglish chorus of "show me como" is a colloquialism made shiny and industrial at a moment when the concept of the crossover artist is feeling antiquated.
The magic of great pop songs lies in making you feel grand things with simple tools. The thick of July imbues us all with a little madness to relish the abandon of new love; "Como" urges you to squeeze the jugo out of every magic moment, in spite (or because) of its impermanence. — Stefanie Fernández
Arcangel feat. J Balvin, "Corte, Porte y Elegancia"
This is one of the funkiest songs of the summer. If you had told me on first listen that Arcangel had collaborated with Pharrell Williams to make "Corte, Porte y Elegancia," I would have believed you. This isn't the first time La Maravilla collaborated with the popular Colombian reggaeton singer, having worked on tracks like "Ahora Dice" and "Dime," but it certainly is the first time either of them released anything that reminds us of disco rather than dembow. This is a song your mom won't give you a hard time for listening to. — Coral Murphy
Latin Bitman feat. Jesse Baez and Juan Ingaramo, "Truss Me"
Latin Bitman (Jose Antonio Bravo) has led an interesting life, and it's reflected in his music in a very direct way. He used to be a professional surfer in his native Chile, what he's described as "Olympic level." Music was his way of dealing with the separation from surfing when he decided he was done riding the waves. His music has always reflected the intensity of man versus big waves in one way or another.
"Truss Me," which features Jesse Baez and Juan Ingaramo, has the quiet intensity he has developed over four releases. (The video was recorded in his home town of Arica, Chile.) His productions are remarkable for their integration of electronic music, funk and hip-hop, as well as Brazilian and other Latin American cultures. Add slow seductive R&B into the mix and you have the all sounds of the new single. — Felix Contreras
Dillon Francis feat. De La Ghetto, "Never Let You Go"
Given the early glimpses of Dillon Francis' upcoming Spanish-language album Wut Wut, it sure seems like Francis is hopping on the wave of the Featured Latin Artist. "Never Let You Go" is a classic dance track (is moombahton still a thing?) that we'd expect from an EDM artist like Francis, but his partnership with reggaeton artist De La Ghetto makes it far more interesting, blending romantic Spanglish lyrics and catchy samples (with the requisite Miami music video). The track is more radio-friendly than Francis' single "Sexo," a collaboration with Residente and iLe. Although De La Ghetto and Residente are two very different reggaeton artists, Dillon Francis found a way to weave both (not to mention Arcangel) into a promising project. — Coral Murphy
Victoria "La Mala," "Corazón Valiente"
Amid the rush of musicians lending their voices and their instruments to the movement to protect immigrants and reunite families, a handful are brave enough to speak from experience. The rising Mexican regional singer Victoria "La Mala" emigrated to New York City when she was 18 years old and experienced the same fear, obstacles and violence that immigrant youth often encounter. When DACA came under fire earlier this year, she wrote "Corazón Valiente," a traditional Mexican son jarocho transformed into a skin-and-teeth hymn for immigrant youth. "Corazón valiente," she howls with a rasp that cuts like a knife — "brave heart" — "No te rajes nunca / Que un guerrero lucha con las uñas y los dientes." "Never give up / because a warrior fights with their fingernails and teeth." But don't take my word for it; hear what Victoria has to say about the song in her own words. — Stefanie Fernández
This playlist is updated weekly.