This week, the music got intense. With "Pienso En Tu Mirá," 24-year-old flamenco singer Rosalía is proving to be one of the most inventive young players in Latin music ahead of her second album El Mal Querer, a more polished and produced genre experiment than her strictly acoustic debut album, 2017's Los Angeles. Brazilian pop star Anitta is putting Brazil back on the global pop charts with "Medicina." Balún released a dreamy new album Prisma Tropical and Puerto Rican trap star Anuel AA released Real Hasta la Muerte just hours after his release from prison.
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.
Rosalía, "Pienso En Tu Mirá"
Rosalía's May single "Malamente" was the first chapter of songs from her upcoming second album El Mal Querer, and she stamped it with the alternative title of augurio, an omen. On "Pienso En Tu Mirá," she shifts her focus toward celos, or jealousy. In the video, the flamenco singer finds herself alternately surrounded by gentle and violent imagery. At one moment, she is enveloped in the caress of female hands or among the stillness of Lladró porcelain figures; at another, she is surrounded by men with weapons aimed at her, the Lladró smashed as a red wound flowers in her chest.
"Pienso en tu mirá, tu mirá clavá es una bala en el pecho," she sings; "your gaze is a bullet nailed in my chest." A bulería flamenco infused with Rosalía's signature hip-hop and pop sensibilities, "Pienso En Tu Mirá" is an old-world lament of love sung from an Andalusian celosía window for a new world of young women breaking out. — Stefanie Fernández
Anuel AA, "Hipócrita"
After taking on a pioneering role in the Latin trap movement from prison with songs like "Thinkin" with Spiff TV and his feature on Bad Bunny's "Tu No Metes Cabra" remix, Anuel AA dropped his 12-track album Real Hasta la Muerte the same day he was released from behind bars last Tuesday. "Hipócrita" shows Anuel's friendlier (or more commercially-inclined) side with relatively tame lyrics and cheery beats. Zion, who sings with Anuel on the track, probably has something to do with how danceable it is. "Hipócrita" reminds us of that person we know we need to stop texting, but still do. Are we moving on from the "Te Boté" vibes? Guess not. — Coral Murphy
In the most recent iteration of a Latin explosion on the charts, women in reggaeton have for the most part been ignored. At only 25 years old, Brazilian pop star Anitta is on the fast track to be a frontrunner of the genre, with her 2017 singles "Vai Malandra," "Paradinha" and "Downtown" featuring J Balvin garnering her the first spot held by a Brazilian on Spotify's global charts. "Medicina" is a step further into the Latin mainstream, with a singable da-da-damelo otra vez chorus and reliable backbeat. The video's visual cues of children all over the world might be the enterprising pop star's subtle message of aiming for world domination before 30. — Stefanie Fernández
Balún, "Años Atrás"
We're going hasta abajo with Balún's new album Prisma Tropical released Friday. "Años Atrás" encapsulates what Balún is best known for: what they call Dreambow (dream pop + dembow). The mix makes it easy for anyone to enjoy, whether you're by yourself having a regular bout of introspection or in an intimate party at your friend's loft. Angélica Negrón's soft voice, repeating the words "prisma tropical," soothes for days, over-layered with the classic reggaeton beat that keeps you dancing, a coded message for the Puerto Rican community that faced Hurricane Maria.— Coral Murphy
This playlist is updated weekly.