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Romeo Santos "Formula, Vol. 1" Review

Bachata for the people

Bachata for the people

Bachata is an acquired taste and while through the 90s -when the all boy band Aventura brought the musical idiom from the Dominican Republic, to mainstream Latin American popular music. If you go to Latin American music for Salsa, Merengue, Flamenco -for dance music, even the best of Bachata is gonna sound wimpy and this sounds really wimpy.

When I saw Romeo’s brother Henry Santos a couple of years ago, I was surprised by the lack of  propulsion on both the singing and the drums: this is a quiet ballad type sound and 2011’s smash hit by Romeo himself Formula Vol 1 didn’t quite cut it at all. In a world with Grupo Mania, why bother with these bongo drummed mid-tempo tracks?

A smasherino of course, Romeo sold out MSG twice and released the live from MSG The King Is Still The King in 2012. Formula Vol. 2 entered the public consciousness with the Drake featured nothing much “Odio” and the catchy “Cancioncitas de Amor”. Romeo preceded the release with news that he will be headlining a gig at Yankee Stadium.

But this is not crossover, not with Santana featured, not with Drake or Minaj, and not with Marc Anthony: this is too laid back for mainstream, it is too slow and Santos voice… well, I guess it helps being 6’2″ and handsome when selling such lukewarm stuff.

The highlight is “Necio” where Carlos Santana saves the day with every single guitar break, straddling the line between western rock and Latin American pop with ease. But elsewhere, it just isn’t hitting on all cylinders, for every nearly there “Hilito” -all acoustic guitar picks and bongos, there is a “Inocente” where the tasteful playing can’t save the song.

The best song of the album is the deluxe only “Trust” with Reggaeton star Tego Calderon, where things speed up a little. And the second best a song Romeo wrote when he was only 13. Suggesting, well, suggesting that there has to be more to DR than this stuff.

Still, if you like Bachata this will certainly do the job and will cement Romeo Santos as the King Of the Hill… if you love Bachata…

Grade: C+

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