How Did 'Bailando' Become A Spanglish Crossover Hit? Enrique Iglesias' catchy song went to No. 1 on the Latin streaming charts before jumping to the Billboard Hot 100. It's hardly the first crossover hit — but demographic shifts might be at play too.
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How Did 'Bailando' Become A Spanglish Crossover Hit?

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How Did 'Bailando' Become A Spanglish Crossover Hit?

How Did 'Bailando' Become A Spanglish Crossover Hit?

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If you've been listening to American pop radio in the past, I don't know, five months, you've heard this song.


SEAN PAUL: (Singing) Enrique Iglesias.

RATH: "Bailando" and Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias debuted at number one in the Latin streaming charts. Before long, Iglesias released a Spanglish version of the song. And that broke into the America pop charts. Twenty-one weeks later it's holding steady at number 15.


ENRIQUE IGLESIAS: (Singing) You look at me, girl, you take me to another place.

RATH: Gary Trust is Billboard's Associate Director of Charts/Radio.

GARY TRUST: Enrique himself told Billboard that even he thinks there's something - and the word he used was addictive - about this song. It's romantic. It's sensual. There is - I think addictive is actually a perfect to use for how the song totally comes together.

RATH: Of course, Spanglish crossover isn't new. It just doesn't happen very often.

TRUST: They happen occasionally. Shakira has had some crossover hits with "La Tortura" back in 2005.


SHAKIRA: (Singing in Spanish) Ay amor - fue una tortura. Perderte.

TRUST: "La Bamba" back in 1987 and that of course was Ritchie Valens.


RITCHIE VALENS: (Singing in Spanish) Para bailar La Bamba se necessita una poca de gracia - una poca de gracia.

TRUST: Decades before that - "Macarena" - 1996. As much as people might chuckle, that song now - it was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks.


RATH: "Bailando" crept into American markets last February, by way of Latin radio stations in Miami. It got a ton of air time and it scored high on Shazam and iTunes.

So Republic Records guessed that "Bailando" would survive the leap from the Latin market to the American market. But they added a rap by Sean Paul just to be safe.


PAUL: (Singing) Baby girl, you are the bomb bomb, the drop drop, killing it with the one drop. The way you move, girl, let me heart beat want stop.

RATH: "Bailando" has rocked other Latino hubs like New York and Los Angeles. It's even taken hold in the Midwest.

TRUST: For it to be working there, again, is another sign that the song really doesn't seem to have any boundaries at this point.

RATH: Of course, you have to wonder if "Bailando" is just the latest "Macarena" or "Rico Suave." Meaning, will it be another one to six years before the next Spanglish crossover? Have things really changed? Gary Trust thinks they have.

TRUST: The Latin American audience is rising. And yeah, I would think as that audience grows, it would make perfect sense that music targeted to that audience would cross over as well.

RATH: Today, a quarter of this country's youth is Latino. Even now, the market is so diverse, Latino artists don't have to pick just one language - or even two. There are actually four versions of "Bailando" out there, including a couple in Portuguese.


IGLESIAS: (Singing) I want to be contigo. And live contigo. And dance contigo.

RATH: But hang on a second, Enrique Iglesias - he's been on the scene for almost 20 years. How is he getting the whole nation dancing? Gary Trust says never underestimate Enrique.

TRUST: I don't think it's even that surprising that Enrique is having a hit now this big 15 years into his career. The guy never ages. Apparently, he must age. But he doesn't look like he's aged. That must be a wonderful thing to have that trait.

RATH: This week, the Spanglish "Bailando" is number 15 Billboard's Hot 100.


IGLESIAS: (Singing) I need your love. I need you closer.

PAUL: (Singing) Because me need it, baby girl.

IGLESIAS: (Singing) Keep me begging, keep me hoping that the night don't stop.

PAUL: (Singing) Rock that body 'cause we don’t stop party.

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