The full title of this music review by Mikael Wood (Los Angeles Times) is “Bad Bunny, Latin pop’s buoyant, flamboyant chameleon, dazzles at star-studded Calibash.” Wood underlines that “this 25-year-old from Puerto Rico [. . .] beloved for his flamboyant style,” is “the most exciting artist in the closely connected worlds of reggaeton and Latin trap” and an obvious choice to headline the Calibash concert.
Bad Bunny bounded onstage Saturday night at Staples Center in what looked like a very cozy pair of pajamas. Over his matching pants and shirt he wore a long, black puffy coat; his signature eyeglasses were rimmed with sparkly rhinestones. And around his neck hung a thin silver chain with an iPhone in the spot where most rappers would put a gaudy medallion.
But then Bad Bunny isn’t most rappers.
Perhaps the most exciting artist in the closely connected worlds of reggaeton and Latin trap, this 25-year-old from Puerto Rico is as beloved for his flamboyant style as he is for the many hit records that made him an obvious choice to headline Calibash, the annual all-star concert presented by L.A.’s Mega 96.3 FM.
His clothes and his brightly colored hair challenge the conventional ideas of masculinity enshrined in so much hip-hop; so too does his voice, which can flip between a low, rumbling bellow and a singsong croon so tender it hurts.
For all his appealing eccentricities, though, Bad Bunny understands the value of a propulsive beat and an addictive melody. There’s an essential sturdiness to his music — from his smash collaborations with the likes of Cardi B (“I Like It”) and Drake (“Mia”) to the flirtations with emo and ’80s R&B on his Grammy-nominated debut album, “X 100PRE” — that explains why he’s become a leading figure in the recent boom in this country of Spanish-language pop.
On Saturday, instead of asking people to wave their illuminated phones as he sang his ballad “Caro,” he simply reached for the one dangling against his chest and demonstrated what he wanted them to do — a practical application for such a left-field wardrobe flourish.
Bad Bunny wasn’t the only prominent weirdo at Calibash, which also featured Rosalía, Anuel AA, Karol G and Lunay, among others. (The sold-out show was due to repeat Sunday at Staples before moving to Las Vegas with a slightly different lineup on Jan. 25.) [. . .]
[Photo above by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times: Bad Bunny performs Saturday night during Calibash at Staples Center.]