Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Exploring K-pop and Latinx musical collaborations, starting with DJ Snake’s “SG”

The latest crossover featuring Lisa from BLACKPINK provides an opportunity to look back at past partnerships between the two cultures.

Graphic of musical collaborations

DJ Snake’s latest ambitious crossover has arrived! “SG” features Ozuna, Megan Thee Stallion and Lisa from BLACKPINK. The song is Lisa’s first solo international collaboration and has already seen great success. It reached the #1 spot on iTunes charts in 44 countries less than a week after its release. Lisa’s choreography even sparked dance challenges as well as a few memes.

The track is the third collaboration between BLACKPINK and Latinx artists. Last year, the K-pop girl group also worked with Selena Gomez and Cardi B on their first full-length album, titled “THE ALBUM.”

Clearly, “SG” is far from the first musical crossover between the two cultures. Here’s a look into K-pop and Latinx song collaborations through the years.

‘Ice Cream’ - BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez

“Ice Cream” is BLACKPINK’s first single to debut within the top 20 on Billboard Hot 100. The partnership came to fruition at the 2018 New York Fashion Week, where Selena Gomez met Jisoo and Rosé for the first time. However, another notable artist has an unseen collaboration on the song; Ariana Grande is credited as one of the songwriters.

‘Chicken Noodle Soup’ - j-hope and Becky G

By now, the astronomical plays on the tracks above show that people already know and love K-pop and Latinx musical crossovers. Still, there’s another layer of collaboration: original K-pop songs sung entirely in Spanish.

“Si Fueras Mia” - D.O.

D.O.’s sultry tone is legendary in the K-pop world, and hearing it take on an emotional ballad in Spanish is a transcendental experience. The poetic beauty of the lyrics comes through when he sings, “En tus ojos me ahogo y no hay salvación,” which translates to “I drown within your eyes and there is no salvation.”

“Lullaby (Spanish ver.)” - GOT7

On GOT7′s “Present: YOU” album, the 7-member boy group released their title track in four different languages. Notably, this marks one of the first times in K-pop that a group has released a title track in Spanish.

There is also a history of K-pop idols paying tribute to some iconic Latinx tracks.

“Sabor a Mi” - EXO

“I came across EXO’s cover of ‘Sabor a Mi’ a few years ago and I was really struck by the emotions and the passion with which they sang the song,” says José Luis Gomez, who is of Mexican descent. “I was also really moved by their commitment to the lyrics, and I just felt really respected by their approach. It just felt really nice to see that exchange.”

Taemin’s cover of “Despacito,” NCT 127′s cover of “Ai Se Eu Te Pego,” and Super Junior’s cover of “Ahora Te Puedes Marchar” are just as legendary.

“Despacito” - Taemin

Just when “Despacito” verges into the overplayed territory, Taemin breathes a new life into it. Fans praise his pronunciation, which the top commenter of the video claims is “clearer than [their] future,” and his 13 years in the K-pop industry show in his gorgeous vocal runs.

“Ai Se Eu Te Pego” - NCT 127

The iconic Brazilian track, “Ai Se Eu Te Pego,” took Latin America by storm after the release of the 2011 Michel Teló version. In fact, it became the sixth best-selling single in the world in 2012. Here, NCT 127 creates their own choreography to accompany their cover. Watching them enjoy their time on stage, it’s almost impossible not to sing and dance along.

“Ahora Te Puedes Marchar” - Super Junior

These K-pop and Latinx crossovers venture into numerous languages as well. Hearing English on these songs isn’t unusual, especially when some of these singers are well-known to English-speaking audiences.

“Vente Pa’ Ca” - Ricky Martin and Wendy from Red Velvet

Ricky Martin is widely recognized as the artist who helped Latin pop break into English-speaking markets with the release of “Livin’ la Vida Loca.” Since then, Martin released multiple English albums, along with an English version of his immensely popular 2016 Spanish track, “Vente Pa’ Ca.” Red Velvet’s Wendy, who grew up in Canada and the U.S., is the perfect choice to complement Martin on this version of the song.

“Bet You Wanna” - Cardi B and BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK now has a number of collaborations with some of the most popular women in the music industry, from Dua Lipa to Lady Gaga. As a result, this collaboration with Cardi B was more expected than speculated. Although it is a side track, it has garnered outsized attention due to the artists’ talent and reputation.

“Magnetic” - Monsta X & Sebastián Yatra

Monsta X made a significant effort to break into English-speaking markets in 2020 with the release of their album, “All About Luv.” Meanwhile, Sebastián Yatra’s discography is almost entirely in Spanish. The two musical groups combine both languages in a bilingual song on “Magnetic,” with Monsta X even incorporating a bit of Spanish in their lyrics.

Still, songs featuring the combination of Korean and Spanish lyrics are the best way to bring both cultures to life.

“Demente” - CHUNG HA & Guaynaa

This track with Chungha and Guaynaa goes down in history as the first Latin and K-pop collaboration between a Latinx artist and a Korean woman soloist. Chungha sings in both Korean and Spanish throughout, making “Demente” the first time Chungha recorded in the latter language.

“Lo Siento” - Super Junior & Leslie Grace

This song marked the first time a K-pop group appeared on Latin Billboard charts when it debuted in 2018. It was a part of Super Junior’s concerted effort to break into Latin American markets and came just before a tour with Argentina, Peru, Chile and Mexico stops. What’s more, it was a true collaboration between both Super Junior and Leslie Grace.

“For the lyrics, the song, the dance, for everything about the project, we tried to incorporate as much input as possible [from Leslie’s team] to appeal to a culture we’re not familiar with,” Super Junior leader Leeteuk told Forbes. Their care paid off, since the track is a masterful mesh of both sounds that lingers long after it ends.

The list of K-pop and Latinx musical collaborations is only growing. Just last week, Daddy Yankee posted a mysterious tweet saying “Good morning” in Spanish, English and Korean.

The tweet garnered excitement and curiosity among fans of K-pop and Latin music alike. While they will have to wait for more news, at least they have catchy earworms like “SG” to tide them over for now. In the meantime, there is no harm in speculating. What collaborations could be coming next?

Listen to these songs and more on our Spotify playlist here