At American Airlines Arena this past weekend, some of the biggest stars of the reggaeton world ushered in the newest crop of hitmakers.
While most of the music world's attention was fixed on Beyoncé's return to the stage at Coachella, Miami threw its own party. MiamiBash, now in its fifth year at the AAA, has built a reputation for bolstering the careers of rising Latin-music stars. Past performers have included J Balvin and Maluma, whose career has skyrocketed since his appearance at the inaugural bash in 2014. He'll headline at the arena next month. J Balvin performed at the festival last April before dropping his global smash hit "Mi Gente" later that summer. The song landed on Barack Obama's personal end-of-the-year playlist and garnered a remix feature from Queen Bey herself. When J Balvin returned to MiamiBash last night, it was as the festival headliner.
The lineup, curated by DJ and rising Latin-music star Alex Sensation, kicked off with J Alvarez, who was already a major name when he performed at MiamiBash in 2015. He's recently seen further success with his latest song, "Esa Boquita." Fellow Puerto Rican duo Jowell & Randy followed with "Dandole" and "No Te Veo."
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Before OGs Pitbull, Luis Fonsi, J Balvin, and Daddy Yankee hit the stage, they made room for Brazilian singer Anitta. Her performance was a jarring contrast to those of her more globally successful peers. Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, and J Balvin can galavant onstage while safely relying on the infectious beats that drive their hits, but Anitta is lesser known in the United States, and she had to win over the crowd of almost 18,000 people — while singing in Portuguese no less. And she matched her backup dancers beat-for-beat. By the time J Balvin brought her out for their collaboration, "Machika," the crowd's reaction let her know she had garnered thousands of new fans.
Though Alex Sensation, Pitbull, and Daddy Yankee followed him, Luis Fonsi was far and away the most compelling performer on the MiamiBash stage. He opened with the Demi Lovato collaboration "Echame la Culpa" — just two weeks after making a surprise appearance to perform the song with Lovato on the same stage — and sang a pretty faithful rendition of the Police's "Message in a Bottle" before closing with "Despacito."
MiamiBash set out to cement its future as a leading Latino music festival, attracting the biggest superstars of the genre in its fifth year. But while established acts such as Daddy Yankee are the main draw for audiences, its organizers' knack for booking newcomers will keep the festival interesting in the coming years.