Juan Ingaramo has a mission: to take pop music back to the elite status other genres enjoy. The Cordoba, Argentina-born musician used to sing in a band, Globo, but after growing tired of rock’s boundaries, he embraced pop as a flag to carry. “It seemed more rebellious at the time. Everybody was making rock, and everybody had that rock look,” he told Indie Hoy in November 2016.
His intentions and development are evident in the names of his three albums. First off, Pop Nacional (2013). (In English, National Pop.) A very clever and meaningful wordplay that’s intended to express his vision and to provoke rock purists. “Rock nacional” is the frequent term used to refer to the collective of historical Argentine bands. Rock nacional is everything: Soda Stereo, Los Redondos, La Renga and more. A rebranding of the term was a statement — an antithesis. In that album, he presented himself as a cotton-candy pop star that could make radio friendly songs with catchy melodies while not relying on clichés.
In 2016’s Musico, intentions were also clear from the start. This time, he counted with the help of Miguel Castro and Argentine legend Adrian Dargelos, frontman of Argentina’s most versatile band, Babasonicos. He showed some new sounds in songs like “Tus Letras” and “With You.” His formula was doubled. The album included the hit single “Matematicas,” which featured Dargelos in what was one of the biggest songs of that year in Argentina. This was his first banter with the mainstream, and soon the album started building a bridge his next release would finish.
In the coming years, urban music started expanding in South America. In Argentina, the freestyle park competition El Quinto Escalón boosted the hip-hop movement all over the continent. It’s viral nature made rap battles reach every teenager’s feed, and YouTube clips of the battles garnered over millions of views. This exposure was used by some artists like Duki, Paulo Londra, Lit Killah, and more to reach stardom, and thus a new sound and identity was ruling Argentina: trap music.
“I love auto-tune; it’s way more than just an effect pedal,” he told Silencio in May 2019. Ingaramo had little to nothing to do with what was happening in the hip-hop movement. But as someone who doesn’t believe music genres matter anymore, he once again embraced new sounds and methods to create his best work to date, Bestseller (2018). Yet again, the name of this album had a message: this is it. His pop sense grasped elements of trap, R&B and dancehall and delivered a masterpiece, which included some of the most prominent faces in Argentina’s urbano scene. Ca7riel, Dakillah and Neo Pistea are all featured. Pistea validated Ingaramo as a pop star that f•cks with urbano now. This morph resulted in Ingaramo’s crowning, which led to him to selling out venues all over the country, playing international shows, a handful of songs that now play regularly on mainstream radio, and six million Spotify streams for “Fuego y Pasión,” a classic cuarteto hit by coterie Rodrigo which he turned into a reggaeton smash.
Bestseller’s impact became tangible. “Fuego y Pasión” has 1.5 million views since uploaded on YouTube 11 months ago, making it his most viewed on the platform despite it not being a video clip. But his latest single, “El Campeón,” reached the million in two months. It’s no coincidence.
Either measured by streams, radio plays or sold tickets, Ingaramo is reaching an undeniable status, while treating Latin pop music more seriously than most do. This new found success gives Juan the full credit to expand, explore and play with the essence of a genre that has been bastardized over the years. He’s said it himself: he is militating pop music. Showing that it’s more than a formula, rather an idea that can be taken to many places to do very creative things. “Romeo y Violeta,” a bachata single with his signature all over, showed once again how willing he is to experiment with other sounds and makes us wonder where he’s going to go from here.
“That’s what I like about pop: it has no limits. Next, I could do a symphonic album with strings, try and dig into reggaeton, or flirt with folklore. Pop is free,” he tells me over WhatsApp audio, while in Miami preparing for his upcoming New York show on July 13. Whether he sticks to urban sounds or tries to cross music borders again, there’s one thing for sure: Latin American pop music has in Juan Ingaramo both a savior and a preacher.