Playlist: Essential Bachata
The always popular—and free—¡VAYA! 63 dance party, presented at the David Rubenstein Atrium in collaboration with the NYU Music and Social Change Lab, continues Friday, November 16, with an evening of bachata, featuring Bronx-based Andre Veloz and an opening set by DJ Youngeun. Start practicing your dance moves now with these essential tracks, hand-picked by Youngeun herself.
"Qué Será de Mí (Condena)" by José Manuel Calderon (1967)
The first recorded bachata artist, and his notable piece from the era of bachata's birth. Calderon's music from this time is closely related to and often regarded as its precursor, bolero. In this song you can hear the sounds of güira instead of maracas, which is one of the main elements that distinguishes bachata from bolero.
"Tu No Eres Varon" by Aridia Ventura (1975)
One of the very few female bachata artists who's also one of the early pioneers, Ventura often gave voice to women's anger in situations of infidelity among others, offering a rare women's point of view. In this song she condemns a former lover and declares to leave him, while listing out his faults. While the tone of the lyrics is discontent, the song itself is quite up-beat and bouncy.
"Bachata Rosa" by Juan Luis Guerra (1990)
In spite of its name, "Bachata Rosa" is more of a bachata-inspired bolero and musically distinguished from the mainstream bachata at the time. Slow and romantic, with sophisticated melodies, this song is loved widely by the international Spanish-speaking population.
Bachata was once stigmatized as being part of low class culture, but Juan Luis Guerra, regarded as one of the most prestigious musicians of the Dominican Republic and worldwide, is credited for aiding to break that stigma with his contribution to the genre.
"Pena por Ti" by Luis Segura (1991)
Nicknamed the "Father of Bachata," Luis Segura sings with a melodramatic impact that pierces the core theme of bachata: amargue, which is bitterness, sadness, and tragedy, often caused by romantic love.
"Voy pa'lla" by Antony Santos (1992)
Antony Santos made his name with this song, one of the most well-known modern bachata songs that has become a classic. The prominent use of electric guitar marks the modern era of bachata. A dancer's favorite.
"Loco de Amor" by Luis Vargas (1994)
Another classic, this one by Luis Vargas, with very high energy and a fast pace. Vargas doubles as a lead guitarist as well as the vocal. You can really appreciate the "crying" of lead guitar in this song, along with the sobbing vocals of Vargas, which came to be core characteristics of bachata of this era.
"El Hombre de Tu Vida" by Joe Veras (1996)
A remarkable piece for a slower paced bachata. Joe Veras didn't break any "rules" or revolutionize the genre, he just did it supremely well.
"Vocales de Amor" by Joan Soriano (1998)
Joan Soriano's music is a unique blend of authentic and new sounds of bachata—while preserving the roots, he expands on it with his own flavor, which may explain his popularity outside of the Dominican Republic and with an international audience.
"Hasta el Fin" by Monchy y Alexandra (2004)
Female-male duo Monchy y Alexandra sing together in most of their songs, going back and forth in a conversational manner themed around romantic love.
"Por un Segundo" by Aventura (2009)
Based in New York with members mostly made of second-generation Dominicans, Aventura successfully popularized bachata across many borders by adding elements of pop music. Their major hit "Obsesión" was the first bachata track I ever heard. This song is from their last album before the band went "on pause" for each member to pursue their own path.
"La Diabla" by Romeo Santos (2012)
Former Aventura member Romeo Santos continues to produce bachata that resonates with the younger generation by infusing R&B and inflections of hip-hop, among many other things. Despite the polished urban feels of his music, Santos keeps the traditional elements alive and well, from the spoken introductions to the instrumental setup.
"La Pendeja" by Andre Veloz (2018)
Bronx-based Andre Veloz is a unique persona in the world of bachata. Paving her own way in every aspect of her career, she dabbles with jazz and blues in her music, sings with a soulful dedication, and captures the audience with her playful charisma.
A South Korean implant in NYC, Youngeun started DJing from the love of hip-hop culture—from turntablism to breakdancing. After many years of cultivating relationship and knowledge with Latin music and dance, she has been hosting dance and music events around the city.