10 Years Later, We Remember RBD, Our Favorite Novela Band

Art by Alan López for Remezcla

10 years ago, the Mexican pop group RBD ran out of things to rebel against. The band – manufactured from their characters on a teen telenovela – had a phenomenal five year run before disbanding. In the mid 2000s, RBD defined a generation that exceeded all expectations and extended to fans across the globe, in spite of any language barriers.

The concept of RBD came from one of the plotlines on Rebelde, which found Mexican actors Anahí, Dulce María, Maite Perroni, Alfonso “Poncho” Herrera, Christopher von Uckermann, and Christian Chávez cast together in a musical group created by showrunner Pedro Damián. Outside of the drama of Elite Way School, the made-for-TV band channeled its angst into the Rebelde album in November of 2004, with the rabble-rousing title track and the puppy love anthem “Solo Quédate en Silencio.” On that album, Anahí also turned her character Mía Colucci’s “Qué dificíl Es Ser Yo” shtick into the emotional ballad “Sálvame.” RBD dominated Latin America upon impact and recruited more rebeldes in the U.S. and beyond.

Striking while the iron was red hot, in September 2005 RBD followed up with the album Nuestro Amor, which amped-up the band’s pop-rock sound. The title track was a dreamy ode to the power of love, while the electronica-driven “Tras de Mí” was a goodbye to comfort zones. Though even with these strong singles, the novelty of RBD’s TV beginnings wore off by the time the group was nominated for Best Pop Album by Duo/Group with Vocals for Nuestro Amor at the 2006 Latin Grammy Awards (Spanish band La Oreja de Van Gogh’s Guapa ended up taking the prize that year).

The title for RBD’s third album Celestial captured the magnitude of RBD’s skyrocketing success. Released in the U.S. on Black Friday 2006, the album reached No. 15 on the Billboard all-genre 200 chart with less than a week on shelves. That was a major feat for a Latino act that didn’t break into the states with an English-language record. The playful lead single “Ser o Parecer” impressively hit No. 84 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.

RBD’s rise coincided with reggaeton music’s first mainland breakthrough, and the two came together on Luny Tunes’ and Tainy’s Mas Flow: Los Benjamins. They traded verses about bumping and grinding on the dance floor on “Lento,” a perreo-function-ready banger. RBD brought more of that música urbana sound on “Money Money,” another Luny Tunes production on their English-language album Rebels, which also included bilingual reggaeton songs “Cariño Mio,” and “Wanna Play” produced by a pre-Lady Gaga RedOne.

After Rebels underwhelmed audiences (except in Japan where it hit No. 2), it was back to the drawing board for RBD. The group began anew with 2007’s fittingly-titled Empezar Desde Cero, where the least heard voices in group (Herrera and von Uckermann) managed to get co-writing credits. Reflecting on the pressure in the spotlight, lead single “Inalcanzable” lovingly reconnected RBD to their fans. Another underutilized voice in the group, Perroni, took lead vocals on the album’s title track and knocked it out of the park. The cute pop bop went on to become one of RBD’s biggest hits and landed them in the Best Pop Album category again at the 2008 Latin Grammys (where they lost to fellow Mexican act Belanova’s Fantasía Pop).

In 2007, pictures surfaced of Chávez getting married to his boyfriend. It was groundbreaking for a high-profile Mexican artist to come out at the time, but his bandmates and RBD’s fans embraced him fully.

After the group’s second TV Show, RBD: La Familia flopped, RBD announced in August 2008 that they would split up with the release of 2009’s Para Olvidarte de Mí. With virtually no promo behind the album, the band’s swan song title track and assorted goodbye bops (including the new wave-inspired “Mírame”) went out with a whimper.

RBD’s brief time on top saw the group reach places far and wide, even achieving huge success in Brazil thanks to the Portuguese versions of their albums.

And though nostalgic fans might still cling to hope of a reunion, for now at least, it seems as though we’ll still have to wait a while to be rebelde once again.