Romeo Santos Is Bachata's Playboy With a Heart of Gold

Romeo Santos Is Bachata's Playboy With a Heart of GoldEXPAND
Photos by Marco Torres

Romeo Santos
Toyota Center
June 3, 2015

There's no way around it: Romeo Santos is fucking lovable. Not only is the guy a supremely talented singer, but he looks like the quintessential Latin playboy taken straight from the cast of a Hollywood movie (he did play a small role in Furious 7). With his perfect hair and designer clothing, the guy has a lot going for him. And to top it off, he flashes his pearly white smile more than a Southern Baptist preacher yells "hallelujah!" It's easy to see why he has so many devoted fans. The seats last night at Toyota Center were almost all sold out, and the screaming from his audience left my ears ringing all the way home.

One thing is for sure, the guy relishes his role as "El Rey de la Bachata" (The King of Bachata Music). The set was full of props that resembled a castle, complete with a throne, chalice (aka pimp cup), and a microphone stand made to look like a royal scepter. The title is most certainly his. As a member of Aventura, he helped introduce and popularize bachata music to a whole new generation by combining traditional Latin rhythms with pop, hip hop, and R&B sounds.

As a solo artist, Santos has taken what he started with his band exponentially further by experimenting with flamenco, EDM, reggae, and dancehall, as well as collaborating with superstars such as Drake, Enrique Iglesias, Carlos Santana, Usher, Pitbull, Nicki Minaj and Marc Anthony. From the outside listening in, its easy to say that all of his songs sound the same. I agree that bachata has a familiar sound dominated by syncopated guitar and repetitive beats. But when you really listen in, the music can be quite complex, although still fun and lively.

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Santos began the night with "Inocente," a song that puts him on trial as a playboy with a heart of gold. Right way, the screaming began, and as I surveyed the crowd behind me, all I could see was an arena full of fans holding their smart phones high in the air, hoping to capture a small portion of their Romeo to take home with them. Santos was backed up by an impressive ten-piece band and two capable back-up singers, all of whom played with heart and ferocity to match their frontman. He followed his opening set with "Loco", a smooth ode to love that he shares with fellow Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias. 

One of the most comical aspects of Romeo Santos are the catchphrases that he is known for. Every time he says "So Nasty", "I Know What You Like", or "Let Me Find Out", the females go crazy! Hey, if it works, do your thing, sir! It's also fairly hilarious when he walks around the stage humping the mike stand, the stool he was sitting on, and then air humping towards the crowd. He also always seems to find a couple in the crowd to "play" with. "Is that your girl?" he asks a guy in the front row. "Don't you find it funny that you paid money for your girl to see another man!" He follows this banter with a wink and a smile into the song "Los Infieles".

Later on in the set, he brings a girl named Nelly onto the stage. "Tell your boyfriend to close his eyes, cuz he's not gonna like this!" he tells her. He sings "Un Beso" as she hugs him and almost gropes him "down there". He also sneaks in a few kisses on the lips, all the while mischievously begging for forgiveness from Nelly's boyfriend, flashing his smile as his immunity.

I've gotta say, the set list was a long one...almost two full pages. Romeo definitely gives his fans a full show. One of the highlights of the night was "Odio," one of my personal Top 10 tracks of 2014. His backup singer did a phenomenal job as he sang and rapped Drake's verse on the song perfectly. He ends the night with his mega hit "Obsesion" from his Aventura days, and then comes back to encore with "Propuesta Indecente," complete with a king-sized bed and a lovely lady by his side.

"Escuchen las palabras... de Romeo!"

Its gotta feel good to be king.

Personal Bias: Dancing with beautiful Latinas to songs by Aventura during my college years are some of the best nights that I've ever lived.

The Crowd: Dressed up and dolled up ladies hoping to be the lucky girl selected to take the stage with Romeo. Proud Latino dudes who hoped to benefit from Romeo's sex appeal later that night.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Good thing we brought an extra pair of panties!" — one of my Facebook friends who attended the show with her best friend.

Random Notebook Dump: Props to the güira player in Romeo's band. I sometimes play that instrument at the Bombón parties, so I know that to play it well takes more skill than people expect. This guy did stuff that really made me appreciate the güira so much more.

When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston Music scene and beyond. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.

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