Bad Bunny, the world’s biggest star, charms at SoFi

Bad Bunny didn’t have to strap himself to a fake palm tree and just fly over the heads of his audience on Friday night for anyone to feel close to him.

To be clear, that’s exactly what the Puerto Rican singer-rapper did towards the end of his sold-out concert at SoFi Stadium — a fine piece of stagecraft in a roadshow that hasn’t been wrongly dubbed the World’s Hottest Tour, which also included fireworks, smoke cannons and a pair of giant drone-powered inflatable dolphins.

But Bad Bunny’s special sauce as a pop superstar is the intimacy of the bond he shares with his fans, many of whom call the 28-year-old by his real first name, Benito. Through his quirky charm, his far-reaching notions of gender and sexuality, his devotion to the needs of his homeland — and of course his music, which feels deeply personal while also being attuned to the story — Bad Bunny has created an international following whose intense devotion has a kind of close-knit family atmosphere. persons knows him (or think they do); more important, they think he she knows why SoFi erupted calling out some of the many countries — Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba — where members of the crowd could proudly trace their roots.

What’s even more remarkable about this sense of mutual belonging is that it’s only grown along with Bad Bunny’s fame since he landed his first chart hit in 2016. Friday’s show was the first of two at the cavernous SoFi to wrap up the US leg of his tour before heading to Latin America for a few dozen more stadium dates to be behind his latest blockbuster studio album, Un Verano Sin Ti, which By far the biggest LP of 2022 and the reason Bad Bunny is the most nominated act at next month’s Latin Grammy Awards. (“Un Verano Sin Ti” — which is composed of reggaeton, bachata, hip-hop, dembow, synth-pop, mambo and reggae — is widely expected to earn a nomination for Album of the Year at the 2023 non-Latin Grammys In this case, it would be the first Spanish-language project to be nominated in this category.)

This week, the LA City Council even declared October 1st as Bad Bunny Day, with councilman Kevin de León saying that the artist’s “cultural impact will have a tremendous and positive impact on future generations and will promote Latino culture in Los Angeles for will redefine the coming years .”

That level of fanfare can make a guy go all Bono. Before flying and pyroping, however, Bad Bunny began Friday’s 2½-hour performance relaxing in a beach chair next to a simple red-and-white cooler on a set designed to resemble a beach. Throughout the night he dressed casually but with enough swag to show he’s privileged to have his fans admiring him; his smooth baritone vocals – which he delivered into a microphone adjusted to resemble the sad heart character on the cover of “Un Verano Sin Ti” (whose title translates to “A Summer Without You”) – had a conversational quality , as if he were exchanging confidences with tens of thousands of his closest friends.

He once sat on stage with about 20 dancers – men and women of different races and body types – and passed around a bottle of wine while singing “Yo No Soy Celoso,” a winning acoustic ballad about romantic jealousy. Moments later, Bad Bunny was back on his feet, hopping around to quick snips of his harder Latin trap oldies. In both modes, his light-hearted aura made the stadium seem somehow small, even as the bad bunny bracelets his team handed out sparkled to the roof.

A Latin American singer/rapper performs on stage

bad bunny

(Raul Roa/Los Angeles Times)

What does Bad Bunny use this special closeness for? He challenges conventional notions of masculinity, as in a great rendition of “Ojitos Lindos” about someone rediscovering their feminine side, for which he is accompanied by the song’s lead actress, Liliana Saumet of Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo was wearing a pink coat decorated with a cloth vagina.

He lays out a clear musical lineage – especially valuable at a time when digital streaming has made it easier than ever to take an ahistorical look at pop. (Think of “Un Verano Sin Ti,” alongside Rosalía’s “Motomami” and Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” as key artifacts in an evolving push among A-list stars to show their trust in the work of trailblazers.) At SoFi Bad Bunny brought out several important figures from reggaeton’s past: Chencho Corleone of Plan B, Jowell y Randy and Ivy Queen, the last of whom he gave the stage to make a brief appearance of her own.

He is also – and perhaps there is a hint of Bono here – campaigning for political change. For his penultimate song, Bad Bunny performed the throbbing and raving “El Apagón” (or “The Blackout”), which he wrote after a private company took control of Puerto Rico’s vulnerable power grid last year — and which felt the most Friday is all too relevant given the island’s recent power outages following Hurricane Fiona. The song is a furious critique of colonialism and its legacy, and Bad Bunny followed suit by inviting a live drummer and horn player to help him close the show with an extended jam on “Después de la Playa” — a smashing one Post-Swim-Come- at which the musicians and the audience found ecstatic solidarity. Bad Bunny, the world’s biggest star, charms at SoFi

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