The theme was composed at sea, aboard a ship, off the coast of Miami; it is its only holiday connotation. However, Couple of the year, by Sebastián Yatra and Myke Towers, is nominated, according to radio announcers and music industry professionals, as a candidate for song of the summer this 2021. Atypical aspirant: its melancholic lyrics, its synthesized violin arrangements (based on reggaeton, that yes) and his dark video, shot inside a theater, contrast with the light-hearted ease that is presupposed in any piece destined to put on a revelry in July and August.
Only a few of the hundreds of songs published in Spain each week stand out from the rest and play as candidates for the soundtrack of the summer. In many cases (especially in the field of Latin urban music), there are not really big differences between them. The antecedents reveal several elements that facilitate the summer break: a simple and easy-to-remember letter, a lively rhythm, perhaps a little dance that even children can execute. But there is another factor as or more important: the moment.
Not before January, not after April
Curiously, Yatra previously published another much more summery single, entitled Ideal girl, in duet with Guanyaa. His video radiated sunshine and joy: there was a party, a pool, beautiful people in swimsuits. But it was released in October last year. Couple of the yearInstead, it was launched in early April. “If you want to make a summer hit, don’t wait for the last week of June,” says record executive Marta Vall. “You have to create success first and then sustain it, which takes a while. Years ago, we began to distribute singles two or three months before the summer among disco DJs, so that they would start playing it ”.
Toni Sánchez, director of LOS40, judges the moment when the song is published as key. “A great deal of success depends on that,” he says. “It is something that is measured very well. When summer comes, it has to be a done hit. It is like meat: it must be at the right point; If you wait a little longer, it will burn you and it is something else. In this case, there is no time for another to come out. I might arrive late”.
SlowlySong of the summer of 2017, it was released in January of that year; in 2019, the star theme of the holidays, Counting moles, by the Canarian rappers Don Patricio and Cruz Cafuné, also premiered in January. It narrated the gawking reaction of a group of kids to a “beautiful and stay“, That” he threw himself pilot purposely ”into the water to splash them. “With no competition in winter, it was the only fun one, hesitates. People wanted to catch the beach atmosphere. The Canarian expressions in the lyrics were also funny, which nobody understood ”, Don Patricio tells us.
In spite of everything, it was not a song designed to sound in summer. “I composed it in Malaga, while I was studying, and at the beginning it had a non-summer rhythm,” says Don Patricio, a native of El Hierro, who studied Audiovisual Communication in Salamanca and a master’s degree in the Andalusian city. When Cruz Cafuné joined him, and especially when they discussed the concept of the video (animation) with the production company, they saw clearly that the beach component had to be exploited. “‘Let a lot of polka dot bikinis come out!’ We said to the director,” adds Patricio. 148 million visits accumulates since then.
You have to believe Sebastián Yatra when he swears that it was not his intention with Couple of the year make a summer hit. This station is not made for whining about falling in love with the wrong girl. It arose when Mauricio Rengifo (member of the duo Cali & El Dandee) invited him to spend a day on his boat and put the basis of the song on his laptop. Yatra immediately improvised a melody above and outlined the lyrics, which includes phrases such as “depression”, “suffering” and “crying with grief.” “I just thought about telling a story,” he says. “It is a love song with a different point of view. Success comes when you sing about what comes from within you, not when you do something forced ”.
In addition to the song and the moment, there is the artist. Universal is keen to make the handsome Yatra a star. The Colombian has been competing with other reggaeton artists for a couple of years to conquer the Spanish market without breaking the bank. He now resides in Madrid while participating as an actor in the filming of the series Once upon a time … but not anymore, from Netflix. At the end of June a mini tour for Spain with tickets already sold out in Madrid (day 26) and Barcelona (27). In September he will enlist in a tour of the United States with Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin.
For the same reason, even a treacherously composed song for the summer like the one half recorded by Bertín Osborne and Carlos Baute (To simmer) handicap part. “It could be the song of the summer,” says Toni Sánchez, “but it is true that the protagonists are usually young people, who are in the ointment”.
It would deserve scientific analysis to count the times that the song of the summer pierces the ears of the average listener on vacation. It will chase you in beach bars, swimming pools, shops, fairground attractions … Conquer familiar territories, which advises simplicity. “It has to be simple,” decrees Toni Sánchez. “Songs like Dancing, by Enrique Iglesias (2014), or The bike, by Carlos Vives and Shakira (2016), they do not have a sophistication in their message. They are very easy to learn. That’s why the whole family like them: even the smallest in the house will be able to repeat the chorus. It must have that special magic that makes the grandmother, the boy and the girl, the father, the mother like it… It is part of their summer ”.
A tradition of decades
The summer song is a tradition in our country practically since there are songs. The RTVE Audiovisual Innovation Laboratory dates the first in 1939: it was The brunette in my coupletby Estrellita Castro. From the sixties, national pop hits, humorous monsters, childish dances, commercial eurodance and caderazos Latinos have alternated with religious punctuality. Titles such as Maria Isabel, from Los Payos (1969), A ray of sunshine, from Los Diablos (1971), Eva Maria, from Formula V (1973), the many ineffable creations of Georgie Dann, The dance of the birds, from María Jesús y Su Acordeón (1981), Lambada, from Kaoma (1989), Yellow tractor, from Zapato Veloz (1991), Saturday night, from Whigfield (1993), Bomb, from King Africa (2000), Hanging on your hands, by Carlos Baute and Marta Sánchez (2008)… In the last decade, the torrid Latin hymns have taken the cake: The enjoyment, from Gente de Zona and Marc Anthony (2015), Slowly (2017), The waist, by Álvaro Soler (2018), Counting moles (2019) …
“When summer approaches, for those of us who work in music it is almost a challenge to attend to what their song will be. It is a milestone that has been repeated for so many years that the professional is waiting for it ”, explains Toni Sánchez. “Although there are international artists with much greater dimension, the truth is that the song of the summer has been Latin for a long time.”
Internet as a shuttle
In the past, radio and television were the media that helped make a summer hit. Now, the Internet stands as an essential instrument. Don Patricio limited himself to uploading the video of Counting moles. “Within a few days, footballers, soccer girlfriends were sharing it …”, he says. TikTok was still too new to be decisive. But the repercussion of Couple of the year is largely based on a new reality: challenges, that is, challenges.
A challenge it is a call to repeat an action (a gesture, a dance) in the videos of others. On April 17, Sebastián Yatra uploaded to this application an easy choreography accompanying the chorus of his single. He mimicked as if he were playing the violin and in the most dramatic part he pretended to wipe a tear away. A good percentage of his 15 million followers on the social network, not a few influencers and celebrities like Carlos Baute imitated him. Currently, the # ParejaDelAñoChallenge is around 150 million views.
“You have to use all the tools available for the song to go viral,” acknowledges the singer himself. The same is the opinion of his boss at Universal: “Today, platforms like TikTok can act as a shuttle for a song. The industry has to be very aware of how the street user consumes to be able to mount strategies. The artist himself prepares his challenge, upload it and invite your followers to participate. It is contagious, it goes viral… To make a number one you need all the tools and that they are in continuous movement ”.
Radio also participates in the repetition tactic. As the director of LOS40 declares, “if you play a song three times a day, you’re hardly going to get a hit; if you put them seven or eight, you have a better chance. Radio continues to be a medium that uses the formula of repetition when it thinks that a song is going to appeal to its listeners. Repetition is also on the Spotify charts: the song of the summer is going to be on all Latin music playlists. If it is not there, the one who has made that list makes a mistake. If a station does not program that song, it will not reach a super wide audience. “
However, summer song it is not an official title; every year, in fact, several themes are in a position to be awarded the honor. They all pepper the listener with similar intensity. So such a name is subjective: each person has their song of the summer. Toni Sánchez’s favorite for this year is Ungovernableby C. Tangana with Gypsy Kings. “We are going to hear it everywhere this summer, but it is a different profile,” he admits. Others who will also harass the vacationer are Children with you, by Lérica and Mau and Ricky; Magic, by Álvaro Soler; o Solo, by Omar Montes, Ana Mena and Maffio. In the end, and although they share excipients, others will not succeed and only three or four will be the winners. “This is like baking a cake,” argues Marta Vall. “With the same ingredients, one day is super good and another not so good. There is no exact formula ”.