If you’re like me, you first heard the name Bad Bunny as a contributor on the song I Like It, from Cardi B’s album Invasion of privacy in 2018. When the song exploded Bad Bunny’s star began to rise, and debut album X 100pre was released in 2019. Later that same year, however, a collaborative album Oasis was released with J Balvin. Most recently Bad Bunny came out with another solo album, Un verano sin ti in 2022, which has done very well on the charts.
But why should he have been so successful, and be so beloved? Well, as it turns out Bad Bunny’s public image is positive and nuanced; as the first non-English language act to be Spotify‘s most streamed artist of the year in 2020 and 2021 he has made a massive contribution to Spanish-language music becoming popular in the US and worldwide markets. In terms of his visual look, Vanessa Rosales of CNN has opined that “in pink, florals and short shorts, Bad Bunny champions a new masculinity”. Moreover, in a 2020 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bad Bunny stated he sees sexuality as fluid. He said, “At the end of the day, I don’t know if in 20 years I will like a man. One never knows in life. But at the moment I am heterosexual and I like women.”
He has been an LGBTQ advocate in other ways as well. During a performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in February 2020, he called attention to the murder of transgender woman Alexa Negrón Luciano in Puerto Rico by wearing a shirt with the words “They Killed Alexa. Not a Man in a Skirt.”, referencing news reports that had misgendered the victim. Ricky Martin has stated that Bad Bunny “has become an icon for the Latin queer community” due to his outspoken support of gay and transgender Latinos as well as his embrace of drag culture. And he’s also been a general activist for his native Puerto Rico. Bad Bunny was openly critical towards the lack of humanitarian aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island of Puerto Rico. He established the Good Bunny Foundation, which distributes toys to children living in poverty in Puerto Rico.
Studies have shown that Gen Z and younger listeners care not just about musical style and content but also ethics and accountability, which means the answer to my question is that Bad Bunny is so popular because his lifestyle and activism back up his catchy and infectious musical work. Whether you’re a longtime fan, or newly curious about this international icon, you should give his albums a try, available today from your Rivershare library.