Albums Of The Year: Bad Bunny Soundtracked The Globe On 'Un Verano Sin Ti'

The Puerto Rican superstar embraces the melodies and rhythms of the Caribbean and pushes reggaeton into new directions

This is the third of five essays MTV News will publish this week honoring our 2022 Albums of the Year. See the first and second.

With his fourth studio album, Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny gave the world the soundtrack of the summer while proving that success in pop music is not limited to the English language. Across 23 sun-kissed tracks, the Puerto Rican superstar embraced the melodies and rhythms of the Caribbean while pushing reggaeton music into a refreshing and alternative direction. Meanwhile, he smashed records throughout the year while proudly singing in Spanish with his Boricua slang. With his position as this year’s most global pop icon, he also used his platform to highlight causes that were close to his heart.

In May, Bad Bunny released Un Verano Sin Ti as the follow-up to the dark and industrial El Último Tour Del Mundo, which made history in 2020 as the first all-Spanish language album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Instead of sweating about the pressure to keep the momentum going, Benito pulled out a lawn chair to bask in his wins while giving his fans a post-pandemic musical getaway. He returned to his reggaeton roots and borrowed from the dembow and merengue genres of the Dominican Republic. In the explosive house music anthem "El Apagón," Bad Bunny sings in Spanish, "Now everyone wants to be Latino / But they lack seasoning, drums, and reggaeton." Un Verano Sin Ti was that spice that pop music lacked. As such, with Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny became the first artist to send two all-Spanish-language albums to the top of the chart. The feel-good LP spent an impressive 12 more weeks at the summit.

Un Verano Sin Ti is divided into two sides. On Side A, Bad Bunny gives his fans the perreo-ready jams that were lacking on El Último Tour Del Mundo. "Dákiti" continues to revamp reggaeton music with a touch of electronica in the mix. On the club banger "Party," he teams up with fellow Puerto Rican star Rauw Alejandro. He also regroups with his "Dákiti" collaborator Jhayco for the hypnotic "Tarot." (“Take it easy / You know that I’m a Pisces and I fall in love easily,” he sings later on the album.) Reggaeton past and present collide in the album's perreo-de-résistance moment "Me Porto Bonito" with ex-Plan B singer Chencho Corleone. On one of the sexiest songs of the year, Bad Bunny also slyly nods to women’s reproductive rights when he sings in Spanish, "If you want me to, I'll make you a baby or bring you the Plan B." His lyrical punchlines can pack a political punch when he wants them to. The swaggering playfulness is signature Bad Bunny.

The artist’s tour de styles pays homage to traditions from around Latin America. The monstrously massive "Tití Me Preguntó" opens with a bachata sample of Anthony Santos's "No Te Puedo Olvidar" before exploding into a dembow-driven anthem. Like on Lou Bega’s iconic "Mambo No. 5," Bad Bunny playfully name-checks the women he fell in love with. His knack for fusing genres also comes through on Side B, the adventurous half of the album. The lo-fi edge of The Marías collides with reggaeton in the sultry "Otro Atardecer." The Colombian coast’s brassy horns and tropical sounds by way of Bomba Estéreo beautifully meld with Bad Bunny's part of the Caribbean in the dreamy "Ojitos Lindos."

At the heart of the album — one with a literal heart on its cover, no less — Bad Bunny celebrates his native Puerto Rico. The alluring "Andrea" embraces Afrobeats alongside contributions from the duo Buscabulla. "And even if she's near crumbling down on the inside / She gets ready and looks fire," Bad Bunny sings in Spanish about the resilience of Boricua women both on the island and on the mainland United States. "El Apagón," while a jubilant ode to his home, also references the intermittent power outages that Puerto Rico faces, most recently due to September’s Hurricane Fiona, which hit four months after the album’s release. In the music video, Bad Bunny puts all eyes on the island with a 20-minute documentary titled Aquí Vive Gente that spotlights various social and economic issues, including the displacement of native peoples on the island and the gentrification that occurred under Acts 20 and 22.

Indeed, one power of Un Verano Sin Ti is how it extends beyond the actual music. Beginning in August, Bad Bunny embarked on the World's Hottest Tour where he sold out stadiums across the U.S. — including Yankee Stadium, as highlighted during the 2022 VMAs — with ease. He brought the Puerto Rican shores to every venue and turned them into massive house parties. The joy and freedom behind the LP soared as he floated over the audience on a palm tree or danced with his fans onstage. During his triumphant concerts in Puerto Rico, he brought out special guests Villano Antillano and Young Miko, queer reggaeton artists on the rise. Young Miko playfully performed her sassy hit "Riri" while Antillano ripped through the fierce bars of her Bizarrap collaboration "Music Session #51." Bad Bunny shared his shine with them.

As the World's Hottest Tour works its way through Latin America, Bad Bunny has become the first Latin artist with the highest-grossing tour of a given year. The impact is clear: Un Verano Sin Ti is the first Spanish-language LP to be nominated for Album of the Year at the 2023 Grammy Awards. His success proves that Latin music is pop music. When it comes to Bad Bunny’s creativity, artistry, and success, there simply are no borders.

See MTV News's other 2022 Albums of the Year:

Beyoncé: Renaissance

Seventeen: Find The Sun

Rosalía: Motomami

Wet Leg: Wet Leg

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