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Why I hate bachata

Mi Vida Latina

Photo: Jessenia Martinez

I first caught wind of the bachata craze in the two or three years before I graduated high school. Most of my friends were Mexican; the only people I knew who danced bachata were Mexican; so naturally I thought it was a Mexican dance. My initial acquaintance with it came from seeing a few eyes light up whenever a certain song was played at the surreptitious pachangas I attended. I liked bachata. It was racy and provocative.

Ten years later, bachata has lost most of its appeal for me. To my ear, the new hot song tends to sound just like the last hot song. The singer – any number of people mimicking prepubescence – whispers how he really likes some cute girl and how everything’s perfect. That’s when I genuinely consider pouring fire ants into each ear.

The problem’s not just with bachata. The same thing’s happening in most genres of contemporary music, especially hip hop and R&B. Most hip-hop artists rhyme (in a way that makes Dr. Seuss look like Royce da 5’9”) about how baller they are. R&B singers squeal about how they’re going to have sex with every girl in the club between the ages of 18 and 23. And both groups of “artists” seem to draw material from each other.

The music I enjoy most was made before my parents got the urge. My iPod’s filled with music older than 1979 (which according to my friends was the same year dirt was invented). A lot of the music I like is even older than my parents; some of its older than their parents. Like a recent Woody Allen character, I gaze back to what I judge to be the golden age of music, when music was inventive and truly moving. The artists and the works they produced don’t come within a mile of the stuff bombarding our ears today, and regularly listening to classic songs reminds me of the ingredients that go into making good music.

“Without old school music,” Being Latino Engagement Manager Nelson Figueroa explains, “there would be no foundation on which to base new stuff on. Without La Fania, Marc Anthony would just be an old freestyle singer. Without the Soul era, Adele would probably be a brokenhearted spoken-word artist.”

Nowadays it seems as though everybody in the biz (I thought it was art) is only looking to discover what works so they can ride it till exhaustion.

“It’s very shallow and generic,” Figueroa adds. “When money is the number one goal, catchy phrases and trends are fed to the consumer in favor of deep content.”

I feel like a Roman circa 5th century, arriving to the party just after the barbarians sacked the place and carried away all the good stuff.

But maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m already over the hill at the tender age of 27. Maybe I have what little Stan Marsh was diagnosed with in the South Park episode appropriately titled “You’re Getting Old”: “cynical asshole” syndrome.

I hope there’s a pill for that.


(An early crossover classic. Enjoy.)

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Bogie says:

    I get the frustration – but at the end of the day it’s preference ~ I also am one who listens to stuff and say it’s not like the old days and where is the substance – and I am the very over the tender age of 41 and actually (Dirt was discovered 3 days before my birth) but the easy part is changing it or is it ? It might need to be changed by not buying into it and trying to have the newer generation know what the previous generations options where. Funny thing is I grew up in the begining of Rap with all the names you always here Run D Mc,CurtisBlow,Bambata and many more – went thru the freestyle era which I loved and to this day the songs never go old – mainly becuase I am sure you have had the conversation that music is a time machine and you can almost remember where you where or what you where up to. I am a Salsero by no choice it’s in me and I hung out with MArc Anthony in his Ride on the Rythm days becuase I knew someone who knew him – and we saw the backstages of clubs like the limelight – the building EMerald City thanks to riding on his rythim no seeing him do anything else and now he was a product of his creative mind – and became our Elvis or MJ however you see it – but the reality is that music is not so much music as it is noise in some cases – I hope they keep the old songs in some form of publication becuase some of this new stuff is just stuff – I will not put on headphones and blast my music so these young kids go what’s that ? maybe it sparks someone’s interest. I appreciate your article becuase it brings to light a music Lovers dilema, Do I give this new stuff a chance ?

  2. Daniel Ruiz says:

    I completely agree. I have always hated bachata, it always sounded like someone was abusing a ukelele. I used to think it was the worst music in the world until they started playing Norteno music in NYC and NJ. That crap is torture to listen to.

    Sadly salsa is nearly dead. Even Marc Anthony has never been a true salsero as all his longs are about love and salsa is more than love songs, salsa is about everything in life. The only complete salsa album he ever had was his cover of Hector Lavoe. Its not just him, the entire industry has been hijacked by clowns pretending to be Salsa singers. The only ones still doing it right are El Gran Combo. Some blame raggaeton for taking young talent away from salsa, but I blame the radio and music industry for making Salsa into 1980s glam rock. Raggaeton is basically the grunge rebellion of PR and Tego Calderon is the its Kurt Cobain. Classics like Plastico by Ruben Blades or Rebellion by Joe Arroyo would not be played today. Think about it, when was the last time a popular Salsa song really spoke to you?

  3. I believe it starts at the top. The big record labels and the major radio stations won’t take any chances with new music. Its easier to copy a formula in the studio of a song and make a quick buck. Its a Musical McDonalds. Fast Food Music without any real substance for those that just dosen’t care enough.

  4. I hate it too!

  5. Bachata has grown. What are you talking about. It’s expanded into two different categories.

  6. I feel the same way!

  7. VERY TRUE! I went to a Prince Royce concert recently and all of his songs sound exactly alike. Where’s the variation?

  8. I thought I was the only one that hated bachata. All the songs sound the same. I think I hate it more because the noisy neighbors that I used to live underneath used to blast it incessantly. To this day, that image comes to miind when I hear bachata. Traumatized, lol.

  9. This is a Bachata Free Zone!

  10. Not all of the new bachata is bad, I think there is a misunderstanding of what bachata is and where it comes from. This article didn’t make it for me in so many ways but most of all how can we start talking about bachata, say it’s Mexican, never to clarify it is Dominican, and say it is a dance…of course you would hate bachata with so little knowledge of it. Also, I have always said that if I only consume mainstream music, I will only get what the author of this article is mentioning, very bad music…there are out there excellent interpreters of good music…And then he puts in a Latino FB page, in a article talking about bachata a video of Frank Sinatra singing Girl from Ipanema, c’mon!!!!! identity issues, have we?

  11. It’s kind of funny reading the article. Yeah some of the mainstream music may sound similar but you have to remember that that is not the only music out there. I stopped listening to the radio and just look online for music to listen to. I actually post this link up before I saw this post:

    It’s about downloading and sharing non-mainstream music. Maybe if people look close enough, they can find what they’re looking for and open up music to it’s original intent and not the business it is now.

  12. I don’t even listen to the Radio anymore for that same reason. All I listen to is some old school Javier Solis, Frank Sinatra, and lots of trios. they know all about romantic songs

  13. So sorry, but I have NEVER liked bachata. It is too twangy and country….I know a lot of people like it but I just don’t get it.

  14. All music has lost it

  15. I’m reading this as they play bachata after bachata LOL!

  16. Anabelle, the author didn’t say it was of Mexican origin. He said he was introduced to it by Mexicans and so he originally THOUGHT it was Mexican music.

  17. Bachata is so skanky. The name even sounds nasty.

  18. Nelson, but he left it as that…

  19. The truth hurts here comes the pain Our people are lost listening to garbage infact many are becoming garbage it’s time to clean up Our music and Our People!!!

  20. I don’t mind bachata, but feel Latinos are pushing it to be too much like “our R&B.” I really feel that Romeo song with Usher is embarrassing for Romeo. Usher sings SOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than that guy and really makes him sound like a 12 year old choir boy. I too enjoy older music, but feel not all new music is bad. It’s just a change in times. I think we can all be that old cynical music critique to one extent. This argument will always/has been around forever, so might I suggest a topic for a more moving article: Brown and Black: the merging of two cultures and how we are doing it all wrong!

  21. I rather listening to bachata than to the stupid regay-ton or the pop music by lady baba or justin gayber.

  22. There plenty of good music out there just gotta know where to
    look, dont just rely on corporate radio.

  23. cupcake lady says:

    I have never liked bachata! It’s soooo irritating and all the songs sounds exactly the same. They are “copy and paste” songs since each singer can’t come up with his own stuff….the new music now in days is just terrible! It’s all fake and not original.

  24. that’s like all music made for young people today.

  25. I’m not a fan but there’s so much more music out there…and it does sound Tex-Mex-ish.

  26. I chose “Girl from Ipanema” because it’s brasileno, chill and poetic.

  27. The biggest problem in music today is the lack of new talent on the airwaves, not the subjective battle between genres.

  28. I believe it starts at the top. The big record labels and the major radio stations won’t take any chances with new music. Its easier to copy a formula in the studio of a song and make a quick buck. Its a Musical McDonalds. Fast Food Music without any real substance for those that just dosen’t care enough.

  29. All I listen to is old school salsa… The heck with the rest

  30. Music that moves my soul and body – that’s what I like!

  31. Ernie Alegria says:

    Bachata is great music. I learned to dance it and really enjoy the scene here in the San Francisco bay area. I do agree that today’s bachata is not the same as it was years ago when I started listening to it. It has evolved into a mainstream genre that trades originality and substance for popularity and record sales. I listen to the current music at the clubs. I listen to the good stuff at home.

  32. Delia says:

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    ——\\\\ Inter’RciaL`=Chat`S.=C`0’M /////——?
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  33. I agree with you. Also, you have to take into account that anything derived of something already done does not necessarily have enough substance to withstand the test of time. The origins of great music will live forever, whereas, some of the newer stuff is just a fad that will fade with time. It’s not that you are old, it’s that your taste of music has become highly refined. All the songs on the radio sound the same after a while. You have a true appreciation of great music. Some of the music you hear on the radio may be appealing at first but like most people I find myself saying after hearing a few times, “This song has been played out.” Yet, I can listen to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” or Celia Cruz singing “Azucar” over and over again.

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