Now Latino

The hit-filled, long-running Now That's What I Call Music! series went Latino in 2006 with Now ¡Esto Es Musica! Latino, a 20-song compilation of popular Latin music assembled by Sony BMG. It's easy to criticize these sort of CDs for being so across-the-board and randomly sequenced. But if you accept it for what it is, Now ¡Esto Es Musica! Latino is a fun listen -- well, most of it, that is. The first three-quarters of the compilation are exhilarating, lining up one big superstar hit after another -- from Daddy Yankee to Don Omar to Juanes to la 5ª Estación to RBD to Kumbia Kings -- bouncing back and forth from reggaeton to Latin pop. However, Now ¡Esto Es Musica! Latino begins to run out of energy during the final quarter, and the end run of emotive balladry -- Reik, Sin Bandera, Alejandro Fernandez -- brings the fun to screeching, weeping halt, unfortunately. Still, as far as these Now CDs go, Now ¡Esto Es Musica! Latino is especially cohesive and free-flowing, and above all, it's well selected. This is so because it focuses almost exclusively on Latin pop and reggaeton, eschewing other popular Latin styles like regional Mexican, tropical, Brazilian pop, New York salsa, Latin jazz, and rock en español. Such a limited focus no doubt will upset some people, but truth be told, these CDs are about popular music and there are no styles more popular than Latin pop and reggaeton. Some of the bigger names here are represented by lesser hits -- Juanes' "Para Tu Amor" and Thalia's "Seducción," in particular -- but even these songs are fun to hear in a context like this. Other highlights include "Rompe" (Daddy Yankee), "Ella y Yo" (Aventura with Don Omar), "Daría" (la 5ª Estación), "Na Na Na (Dulce Niña)" (Kumbia Kings), "Llame Pa' Verte (Bailando Sexy)" (Wisin & Yandel), "Malo" (Bebe), and "Estoy Perdido" (Luis Fonsi). ~ Jason Birchmeier

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