Songs of Survival

By: Marcelo Báez

Yesterday, a friend posted a cell phone screenshot showing Wisin, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin standing next to each other. It was the cover of “Adrenalina,” Wisin’s new single off El Regreso del Sobreviviente, a follow-up to 2004's El Sobreviviente. I’m a curious person, so I took a gander at Wisin’s artist page on iTunes, where practically the whole record can be heard before its March 18 release.

“Adrenalina” is essentially a generic EDM club banger. The elements all are there: stereo synth pads, predictable lyrics about losing your mind when somebody makes love to you (J. Lo’s bit in the song), an auto-tuned chorus, a beat that stays in the 120 to 130 BPM mark. Everything is so predictably boring that having two of the biggest names in music—Ricky and Jennifer—in the same song comes off as nothing but a gimmick. 

If you’ve never visited the Latin pop-music planet, then you’re probably completely oblivious of Wisin’s stature within the industry. I’ll be brief: Wisin and his partner, Yandel, are two of the biggest names in the reggaeton genre. They sell out stadiums in Latin America and arenas in the US, and that’s why it’s no surprise to see 50 Cent, Chris Brown, Pitbull, Sean Paul and Michel Teló as guests on El Regreso del Sobreviviente.

But then again, every one of these collaborations—chances to do some musical role-playing—safely keeps the guest in their comfort zone. That is, 50 Cent’s track uses an ordinary rap beat, Michel Teló sings over a pseudo-Brazilian melody, and Franco de Vita croons over a cloying ballad. Wouldn’t it be much more interesting to have heard boring-ass Franco trying his hand at rapping? Or 50 Cent on a baby grand, dramatically singing about sipping Bacardi at some club during someone’s birthday? You bet.

Wisin doesn’t have a great voice, either, which isn’t a problem for many artists (just ask Madonna), but he happens to scream almost everything he enunciates. That makes his gravelly voice come off as aggravating, not tough or hard (which is probably what he’s going for). Still, because they’re his bread and butter, the hard reggaeton tracks on El Regreso del Sobreviviente are the only ones I would personally dance to if I had to rub my ass against a stranger at a club. “Mucho Bajo” and “Heavy Heavy” will, without a doubt, make many nalgas tremble. They’re not exceptional, but they sound less forced than the rest of the experiments that shape the “return” of this “survivor.”

A return that makes you wonder how much musical life Wisin has left in him.

Wisin’s El Regreso del Sobreviviente, out March 18

Marcelo Baéz is a writer, DJ, and musician based in NYC. When he's not producing "Rico Suave" parties, he releases music under P3CULIAR.