Karol G, Bad Bunny, and the New American Mainstream by Nikki Lopez

Karol G and Bad Bunny now belong to a very exclusive club. As of Sunday, the Latino artists are collectively responsible for the only four all-Spanish language LPs ever to top Billboard’s album chart. Bad Bunny’s ‘Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana’, which dropped October 13, marks his third consecutive album to debut atop the chart, while Karol G’s 2022 ‘Mañana Sera Bonita’ was the last all-Spanish album to hold the spot. 

Both stars are having an incredible year – gracing the covers of some of America’s most celebrated music and lifestyle magazines (Karol G for Rolling Stone in September and Bad Bunny for Vanity Fair in October); headlining the country’s biggest music festivals (Karol G at Lollapalooza and Bad Bunny at Coachella); and making some major television appearances (Karol G’s Today Show performance broke the show’s all-time attendance history with more than 15,000 fans flocking to Rockefeller Plaza to catch a glimpse of the Columbian songstress, and last Saturday night, Bad Bunny played both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live).

True to form, he was 100 percent Benito, delivering a hilarious monologue almost entirely en Español through the help of his “interpreter” Pedro Pascal. And the only closed captions needed simply read, “speaking in a sexier language,” in a playful nod to his February GRAMMY performance that sparked a viral moment when the show producers embarrassingly captioned his song as, “singing in non-English.” In numerous sketches, the multi-hyphenate star showed natural comedic timing, and in a particularly memorable sketch, he played opposite Marcello Hernandez and Pascal showing the many nuances of growing up in a Latino household (especially with a Latina mamá and tía.) As a Latino, it was hard not to feel “seen” in these sketches, like we were all in on the same joke. 

Earlier this year, Karol G contributed to the soundtrack of one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, “Barbie” with her song “WATATI” – making her one of only two Latinas featured on the soundtrack. And this summer, she kicked-off her first-ever stadium tour, the ‘Mañana Será Bonito’ Tour, where she played to sold-out crowds in major cities across the U.S.

We continue to see the influence of Hispanic culture shape all facets of the U.S mainstream, and these artists are just two of a rapidly expanding roster of entertainers that are leading this cultural transformation. 

So, why does this matter and what does it mean in a larger context for multicultural marketers? Let’s break it down: 

  • There’s something special about Hispanic culture that makes you feel connected. We lift each other up. There’s a certain warmth, care, and an unmistakable feeling of inclusivity that is shared broadly across our culture. Whether it’s inviting your neighbors to the carne asada, or your mom insisting on feeding all your friends every time they come over, or your tío opening his home for everyone to watch the game – there are countless examples. But we have an unspoken way of making anyone feel like familia. 
  • Hispanics are natural leaders and change agents. Karol G and Bad Bunny are just two examples of how we’re seeing it happen in music, but the same cultural change is sweeping across TV and film, business, politics, beauty, fashion and sports. As the MLB World Series kicks-off tonight, keep an eye on the many Latino players leading the charge. One to watch is Texas Rangers slugger and this year’s American League Champion Series MVP, Adolis García, whose consistent bat helped lift the Rangers to their first World Series appearance since 2011. 
  • Through representation on stages, in film and in sport, these stars are helping to rewrite the script about the Hispanic experience in the U.S. According to a recent survey by LATV, 71% of young Latinos (Gen Z and Millenials) said they feel represented in mainstream, English-speaking media outlets in the U.S. But 44% said that U.S. mainstream English-language or Spanish-language media still don’t “get” Latino cultural nuances. 

This is why it’s so important that we continue to push for Latino representation in the media (and across all industries), but ensure accurate and authentic representation. This is especially true for brands that are looking to embrace the changing face of culture to future proof their businesses for the long term. Now and in the future, brands that win must lead with heart and authenticity, anchored in the many nuances of Hispanic culture to build loyalty and trust with multigenerational U.S. Hispanic audiences. 

Afterall, Hispanic stories are American stories, and we’ve captured everyone’s attention.

Follow BODEN Agency for more views on the forces shaping Hispanic America, including music, sports and more! 

Nikki Lopez, Senior Vice President