When Latin American boy band CNCO formed in 2015 during the first season of La Banda (a Spanish-language version of American Idol), fans of the show wondered if the group could reach the kind of success American boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NYSNC did back in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
For Teen Vogue’s latest cover story, writer and Remezcla contributor Lucas Villa breaks down how CNCO has been able to take their “bad boy reggaetón edge” and translate it for the global masses. Since breaking out five years ago, CNCO members Richard Camacho, Zabdiel De Jesús, Joel Pimentel, Erick Brian Colón and Christopher Veléz have worked together to create three studio albums, including their latest, 2021’s Déjà Vu, and gained international fame with their single “Reggaetón Lento (Bailemos).”
It’s probably safe to say that at this point, CNCO, as Teen Vogue puts it, can “stand alongside the J Balvins and Malumas of the world.” If you haven’t kept up as much as you’d like with CNCO’s chart-topping music and impressive musical collaborations, now is the time. Here are five cool things Teen Vogue tells us about the group:
They (Sort of) Performed With the Ninja Turtles
Forget about Vanilla Ice’s “Go Ninja Go” song from the 1991 sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. If you want a song that could be synonymous with anthropomorphic, crime-fighting mutants (we jest) choose CNCO’s “Tan Enamorados,” the song they sang while riding on a float with the turtles during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While their audience wasn’t as big as they probably would’ve liked due to the pandemic, CNCO put on a good show and had the turtles dancing out of their shells.
They Share a “CNCO Type of Slang”
Since all five members of CNCO come from different backgrounds, their Spanish tends to be a little different at times. Camacho is from New York City with Dominican roots; Vélez was born in New Jersey and grew up in Ecuador; Pimentel is from California with Mexican heritage and identifies as Chicano; meanwhile, Colón was born in Havana and relocated to Miami and De Jesús is from Puerto Rico. “Between our five cultures, we have learned a lot about each other,” Pimentel says.
One Member Wasn’t Fluent in Spanish During "La Banda"
Although all of them now consider themselves fluent in both Spanish and English, Pimentel competed on La Banda without the bilingual skills he has today. That led him to be more “closed-up” during the production of the show because everyone was speaking to each other primarily in Spanish. “That was definitely a challenge,” he says. “I was focused on the show, and afterwards, I learned more Spanish with the guys and from traveling around Latin America.”
Fans of the Group Are Called CNCOwners
Taylor Swift has her Swifties, Katy Perry has her KatyCats, Selena Gomez has her Selenators, Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters and Beyonce has her Bey Hive. Inevitably, someone had to come up with a nickname for fans of CNCO, right? Hey, at least the name is better than Ed Sheeran’s Sheerios.
How Do We Feel About A CNCO-BTS Collab?
The group says they are open to singing in Korean with a K-pop boy band like BTS. “We’re super down to make good music with them,” Camacho says. Vélez adds: “There’s going to be a lot of people onstage, but we’ll figure it out. We’ll make a good team.” In the past, CNCO has recorded music in Portuguese and Japanese to reach a larger audience.