Latin and K-pop artist collaborations have come a long way since seemingly random pairings like the first of its kind with (both now defunct groups) CD9 and Crayon Pop. Now, these music partnerships are occurring a lot more organically, with artists of equal standing working together. Such is the case with Guaynaa and Chung Ha, emerging talents aiming for global exposure, or local superstars like Reik and Super Junior who teamed up for “Otra Vez.”
Plus, as we phase out of the pay-per-feature-and-bounce collabs and into ones where both camps bring their own value and benefit off each other’s artistry and exposure, the tracks have only gotten better.
Bridging the two worlds could’ve only happened in a post-Bad Bunny era on BTS’ internet, when music sung in English is no longer the standard to have a U.S. or worldwide hit and recognition. And, with both almost polar-opposite movements turning the global music industry over its head in the last few years, it was only a matter of time before artists on both sides broke cultural and language divides through music collaborations.
While the Latin side brings the genre rapport and everything’s-a-party vibe, the K-pop side offers the world-class production aspect–from the actual track to the music video visuals and styling. The results are always genre and language-thwarting productions and multicultural celebrations. While few, the collaborations between Latine and South Korean artists have been impactful, and fans throughout Latin America and the Latinx diasporic communities around the world have embraced them with open arms.
Here are some of the most recent and notable ones, with some K-pop stars even taking on the challenge of singing in Spanish themselves:
Chung Ha & Guaynaa – “Demente”
K-pop superstar Chung Ha lived in Dallas in her youth and said it was there that she learned some Spanish via her Mexican friends—something that came in handy when she recorded “Demente” with the Puertorican artist Guaynaa. Though it’s common to sprinkle words and phrases here and there on K-pop songs, Chung Ha was the first soloist to sing an entire song in Spanish, and she did so adroitly. Meanwhile, the “Rebota” singer is one of the very few rappers to venture into K-pop territory thus far.
Mozart La Para, Jay Park – “Son Malas”
Korean-American multi-hyphenated artist Jay Park and Dominican star Mozart La Para, both signed to Roc Nation, joined forces on “Son Malas.” Produced by el movimiento’s resident producer Tainy, the trilingual dembow track flows well between Mozart’s hoarse voice and Jay’s more melodic flow and few korean phrases, making it an even more of a rare, authentic gem among the glossier productions on the list.
j-hope ft. Becky G – “Chicken Noodle Soup”
J-hope, of BTS (perhaps the most popular band in the world), featured Mexican-American starlet Becky G for his solo release, “Chicken Noodle Soup.” The track is a remake of Webstar and Young B’s from the mid aughts, with both artists singing about their respective roots and the work they put in to get to where they both are: at the top of their games. “Where I was born, no one thought a woman would stand out,” Becky G raps in Spanish as she showcases her dancing abilities—also J-hope’s forte and the genesis of the song.
VAV ft. De La Ghetto & Play-N-Skillz – “Give Me More (Un Poco Más)”
In line with the moombahton-infused pop wave that dominated global music a few years back, the male outfit VAV hopped on the trend in 2019 with “Give Me More (Un Poco Más).” They tapped Dominican-Puertorican crooner De La Ghetto as well as Argentinean-Venezuelan production duo Play-N-Skillz for the summer banger.
Ricky Martin ft. Wendy from Red Velvet – “Vente Pa’ Ca”
Being one of the biggest Spanish-language hits of 2016, Ricky Martin released a handful of remixes for “Vente Pa’ Ca” including an English version with Wendy from one of the top K-pop girl groups, Red Velvet. An unlikely pair in theory because of musical differences and age, Wendy’s input gave the popetón song a more tender, youthful touch. This version ended up reaching No. 1 on one of South Korea’s top international music charts.
Monsta X & Sebastián Yatra “Magnetic”
When Colombian singer Sebastián Yatra teamed up with K-pop heartthrob ensemble Monsta X for “Magnetic,” the result was a celebration of each artists’ strengths. The group’s signature hard-hitting cadence was mellowed out by Yatra’s romantic, sensuous vocals, which in turn was one of the “Traicionera” singer’s more experimental ventures into EDM. “There’s nothing more beautiful than crossing borders and being able to take my voice to new horizons,” Yatra told Remezcla in a statement in 2019.
Super Junior ft. Leslie Grace & Play-N-Skillz – “Lo Siento
The golden standard for K-pop and Latin collabs: Dominican-American singer Leslie Grace and Play-N-Skillz didn’t only hop on Super Junior’s “Lo Siento,” they also went on tour with the Hallyu wave icon throughout Latin America. A first of its kind, the trilingual song debuted at No. 13 on Billboard’s Latin Digital Song Sales chart—the first K-pop group to appear on a Latin chart. “Ever since we debuted, we had a big following in Latin America and they loved us from the beginning, so we always wanted to find the right opportunity to collaborate and sing in Spanish,” the group’s leader Leeteuk told Remezcla in 2018, explaining how “Lo Siento” was a gift for their Latin American fans.