Romeo Santos

Formula, Vol. 2

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For an artist who has released only two studio recordings, singer and songwriter Romeo Santos has logged a whopping 17 nominations in 14 different categories for the 2014 Billboard Latin Music Awards. Formula, Vol. 2 has benefited enormously from three straight number one pre-release singles on the Latin Airplay chart, including "Propuesta Indecente" and the startling "Odio" featuring Drake. Santos doesn't deviate much from the new bachata style that established him, though he does extend it considerably when he involves other guests. Comedian Kevin Hart helps out on the intro, which is an off-kilter move because Santos throws the listener into the depth of his art with the flamenco-tinged "Inocente," which almost drips with a sultry tenderness. Guitar ace Carlos Santana adds his trademark tone and style to the grooving cumbia in "Necio." Marc Anthony duets on the sizzling salsa of "Yo También," and rapper Nicki Minaj delivers a verse on the sexy "Animales." Reggaeton legend Tego Calderón appears on the skittering bachata meets EDM of "Trust." But Santos' solo numbers are every bit as resonant -- and perhaps more so -- than his duets. Some of those highlights include the slippery, graceful "Eres Mía," the knotty cumbia cum bachata of "No Tiene la Culpa," and the infectious Caribbean dance-pop of "Obra Maestra," with its son touches. Santos' songwriting (he wrote or co-wrote everything here), the production, and the inspired performances offer a portrait of modern pop bachata at its very best. Santos proved himself an up-and-comer on Vol. 1, but on Vol. 2 he not only delivers on the promise, but emerges as a fully formed innovator. His collaborations underscore his reputation as a pop star, but that's just a natural byproduct of his talent and artistry.

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