It’s finally arrived! The day that marks the ultimate watershed moment for the #bachatapocalypse—the release of Romeo Santos’ possible magnum opus, Formula Vol. 2. It’s an event we’ve anticipated at length, since Santos first announced the project. And some of those predictions prove true.
After a first listen, this could be bachata’s big leap—even past Santos’ already-charted inroads—into crossover potential. And why not? Even Anglo pop’s once-good kids have gone bad (hi Bieber) so someone else needs to keep the ladies satisfied with the sweetest of melodies.
So let’s talk about the essential tracks here and see if they’ve got, uh, the wining formula – rimshot! We’ll rate it by soaked hankies because at its essence bachata is all about the heartbreak, man.
“Intro Vol. 2”
Alrighty, this isn’t an actual song but it sets the tone for the rest of the record. When you listen to this intro sketch, leave aside the fact that it’s a string of voice mails and, it’s like, who even leaves voicemails any more? It’s almost rude. But here are voicemails from DJ Clue! Kevin Hart! And other! People! Who All! Want to Hear! Formula Vol. 2!
The messages are more in English than in Spanish though, so this is how you know it’s not going to be your average bachata album. In fact, Kevin Hart’s riff feels like a manifesto for the rest of the album. In it, he chides Romeo for giving his album an English-language title: “You’re supposed to be big with the Spanish community; you should go with some Spanish s***, man!”
But he didn’t, Kevin! THIS IS ABOUT THE BACHATA TAKEOVER. EN INGLES.
Soaked hanky rating: 0. We’re just getting warmed up for the real action here.
This probably won’t be a single, but here’s where things start cooking – not only does the song open with a flourish of proper pop production, but the lyrics here are JUICY. While most pop music currently consists of a chorus over and over—and maybe a bridge—Romeo still favors a narrative arc. This one’s different—this time, he’s not a man trying to explain to a woman why he’s wronged her. Instead, he’s gently, but firmly, informing a friend that the latter’s wife is cheating on him. He saw her entering a hotel and kissing her “cousin” on the mouth! Spicy!
Soaked hankies: 4, for the other dude to whom the song is addressed
Here’s the piece de resistance otherwise known as the DRAKE bachata. You can read our detailed breakdown of just this song here. This probably irks a few bachata purists, but between the Rico Love production, the killer main melody, and Drake’s smooth, bilingual contributions, this is a home run.
Soaked hankies: Cinco (in Drake phonetically pronounced Spanish voice)
“No Tiene La Culpa”
“This is not a gay record,” Santos says, breaking into English about halfway through this deep album cut. “This is a reality song.” That sums up what might be the world’s first (??) pro-LGBT bachata, a sweet number that speaks out against hatred and bullying and in favor of accepting everyone however they were born. Awwww!
Soaked hankies: 4, this should give you feels
When we heard Nicki Minaj was guesting on this album, we got super excited to imagine how she might adapt to Santos’ style. It’s a bit of a bummer to hear her stay in one of her usual lanes on this track, though. “Animales” ditches bachata in favor of a pop-dancehall riddim laced with Nicki rapping in that light patois she likes to take on occasionally. Still, where this really works is to hear Santos on a more generally “urban” (lol, hate that word) pop style ‘cause even without bachata he still kills it.
Soaked hanky rating: 1, there’s not a lot of sadness here, only hope between the two narrators that they can get it on ASAP
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.