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Best Of 2012

Top 30 Latin Albums

by Rachel Devitt

Top 30 Latin Albums


It’s always kind of a weird project to shape some kind of meta-narrative for the year out of your list of its top albums, isn’t it? Especially when -- as was the case with Latin music this year -- no prominent meta-narrative jumps out. Actually, no prominent, massively mind-blowing album jumped out this year. In fact, the lack of a dominant story/album/artist kind of is the story of Latin music in 2012. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything good to listen to.

See, one of the biggest trends in Latin music this year was a kind of blurring of the lines between trends, between styles, between genres and audiences and demographics that had been formerly somewhat stringently demarcated. Regional artists became pop stars, pop stars did regional guest spots, reggaeton overlapped with EDM-fueled dance-pop merged with bachata 'n' b, mainstream hip-hop stars guested on reggaeton albums, alt rock gave way to electro-pop, electro-poppers went folklorico, everyone did a bachata version, everyone switched back and forth between English and Spanish (often on the same track), and the biggest Latin pop hit of the year may just have been a Brazilian country tune.

We’re not trying to imply that Latin’s many, varied genres are becoming fewer and less varied. Rather, it seemed that both Latin artists and their fan bases were branching out, trying new things, testing the borders of their genres and reshaping their sounds. Since it’s all still in the experimental stages and appears to be happening across the board, no album or story just completely took over this year.

What we did get, however, was a big ol' bunch of good, solid albums from across the Latin spectrum, so many that our year-end best-of list contains a whopping 30 of them. From that list, one can detect a few mini-themes for the year -- or, at least, which mini-themes caught our ears: swaggalicious regional crooners (see: Gerardo Ortiz, El Bebeto, etc.); beguiling up-and-coming pop stars (Deborah De Coral, Bebe); indie poppers/rockers with a penchant for knob-twiddling dance pop (Jotdog, Bomba Estereo, Xenia Rubinos, Alex Ferreira); salsa revitalizers (N’Klabe, Ruben Blades); South American hipsters (Alex Anwandter, Astro and Gaby Amarantos, who’s Brazilian, but made a pop-oriented, Latin-friendly dance album); and political rabble-rousers (Mexican Institute of Sound and Ana Tijoux, who took our No. 2 and No. 1 spots for their searing social critiques of Mexican and Chilean politics, respectively). Start listening and write your own story for 2012!

30) Wisin y Yandel, Lideres
29) Prince Royce, Phase II
28) Cosculluela, War Kingz
27) Beto Cuevas, Transformacion
26) Fidel Rueda, Sinaloense Hasta Las Cachas
25) Jotdog, Turista del Amor
24) Pablo Alboran, Tanto
23) Alex Anwandter, Rebeldes
22) Ivy Queen, Musa
21) Roberto Tapia, El Muchacho
20) Selena, Enamorada de Ti
19) Joan Soriano, La Familia Soriano
18) Gaby Moreno, Postales
17) Astro, Astro
16) N’Klabe, La Salsa Vive
15) El Bebeto, Ese Soy Yo
14) Ruben Blades and Cheo Feliciano, Eba Say Aja
13) Xenia Rubinos, Magic Trix
12) Pitbull, Global Warming
11) Gaby Amarantos, Treme
10) Daddy Yankee, Prestige
9) Monica Lionheart, Indian Summer
8) Bomba Estereo, Elegancia Tropical
7) Gerardo Ortiz, El Primer Ministro
6) Deborah De Corral, Nunca O Una Eternidad
5) Cafe Tacvba, El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco
4) Alex Ferreira, El Afan
3) Bebe, Un Pokito de Rocanrol
2) Mexican Institute of Sound, Politico
1) Ana Tijoux, La Bala