The worldwide success that has been attained in recent decades by certain Spanish-language hit songs, and especially by the chart-topper “Despacito” in 2017, has led some to conclude that there is a newfound recognition of Latin or Latin-American culture on the world scene. This can be interpreted as a much-needed slap in the face for “Trump’s America” and the imperialism of its cultural production, which always seems to relegate Latinos and Latinas to subaltern roles. However, when the arrangements of this music and the relations between its lyrics and melodies are examined, this optimistic interpretation can be called into question. In effect, the Spanish language, which is used with and in the same way as other musical semes in the arrangement, is largely reduced to a signal that merely conjures up the chimerical stereotypes typified in the “Latin” genre.
- popular music
- Theodor Adorno