Even though many still insist on throwing an exotic gaze, it’s becoming increasingly undoubtful that electronic music made in Latin America is just electronic music. This is not in any way a reductionist point of view nor an intent to undermine anything recorded with FL Studios in makeshift studios in Panama or heavyweight productions teaming up with Latine producers in London or Miami. It’s rather an assertive statement: Latin America is part of the world’s dancefloor today—and this list celebrates this world where thump has become punchis.
This landscape covers a wide sonic spectrum. Stars of the global music industry like El Jefe and Farruko have navigated quite easily from pop arena stages to hidden, small venues ruled by underground DJs. Farruko, to say the least, was omnipresent in 2021 with “Pepas.” The guaracha-EDM hit concocted by him, IAmChino, and Victor Cárdenas was one of the biggest songs of the summer, bringing loads of tribal drums and irresistible drops to a world that was in need of a party. It was inescapable, playing everywhere from clubs to radios to your friend’s Instagram stories. Riding the same wave, well-known names like Ivy Queen and her “Camuflash” or Rauw Alejandro and his “Cosa Guapa” invaded the club banger playlists.
Music makers often associated with the tag “electronic” have also found a larger spot in the music industry this year. Arca hasn’t lost grip on her iconoclastic, future-bending approach, burning to the ground every song canon with her “Incendio.” Not far from that, Berlin-based producer LSDXOXO reshaped vogue and gender with “Sick Bitch,” while Sango, once again, revisited baile funk only to bring the sunniest vibes to the darkest clubs.
Below, a deeper analysis of 2021’s electronic music, endearingly called punchis punchis, as seen and made through Latine lenses. Both the songs and order were based on the input of the Remezcla editorial team and our music writers.
10. Cornetto, Guelo Star – “A Beber”
Wearing a pink helmet wasn’t the only thing that made this Colombian DJ stand out from the crowd. By injecting EDM with digital guaracha—compiling decades of tradition into a neat sound—Cornetto gave the genre a much-needed spin, which made for an addictive listen as heard on this hedonistic track. Aided by Guelo Star’s as hype man for the hard-drinkers, “A Beber” proved to be party-stopper par excellence. Who knew what 2021 really needed was a well-placed guaracha drop? – Marcos Hassan
9. Ivy Queen – “Camuflash”
With over 20 years of crafting club-ready anthems of empowerment under her belt—and in a genre where overt and unchecked displays of male bravado prevail, at that—trailblazer Ivy Queen continues to dominate the conversation on where reggaeton is in its current state and where it’s headed. While voguing-worthy “Camuflash” toggles between the steady, fist pumpable pace of electronic dance music and a perreo-worthy slowdown, it still captures the true essence of La Queen herself–that unwavering boldness that has solidified her place as the ultimate disrupter who also manages to get everyone on the dancefloor. It also coincidentally works as the ultimate clap back to the particularly disgraceful and disastrous “Perra” released earlier this year. – Nayeli Portillo
8. Musaraña – “Munchie Sexual”
Imagine camp king John Waters, the iconic Celia Cruz, and the legendary Walter Mercado are exploring the inside of the surrealistic Venezuelan artist Luchita Hurtado’s “Untitled…” Well, that’s one way of conveying what “Munchie Sexual” sounds like. Musaraña, a duo composed of Maria Laboy and producer Andres Rigau, smashes together plena, merengue, funk, and salsa, then accents the chaos-made-cohesive with psychedelic, futuristic flourishes. It is absurd, and it is totally intentional. Laboy wants us to question unjustly pigeonholing tropes—here, that of the hypersexual, exoticized Latinx femme—while also embracing our right to embody them if we so choose. – Jhoni Jackson
7. Randy, The Martinez Brothers – “Remember”
Randy’s new album, Romances de Una Nota Vol. 2, contains its fair share of dance-infused tracks, but none more catchy or irresistible than “Remember.” A co-production with established DJ duo The Martínez Brothers, the song transports you to a place where cares are nonexistent, and even the sappy lyrics are sung with a wink and dose of flirt. The beat insists on nothing less than bouncing along ’til the end, and Randy’s notably adaptable voice fits like a glove onto the tempo. Less rave and more vibe, “Remember” is the perfect tune to unwind and groove to. — Juan J. Arroyo
6. Farruko, El Alfa El Jefe, Axel Rulay – “Si Es Trucho Es Trucho (Remix)”
What started as an inside joke between Axel Rulay and his crew, “Si Es Trucho Es Trucho” featuring Verbo Flow and produced by El Jay Mundial became a viral hit that even got El Conejo Malo cantando, and finally propelled into the stratosphere when Farruko and El Alfa hopped on the remix. This is a party anthem for those who like their night outings drenched in narcotics of all kinds. It’s a danceable delirium that guarantees to get Axel Rulay’s name tattooed in everybody’s brain. So, when the children’s choir lamenting the passing of time joins in, of course, it makes perfect sense. Everything goes in a night where “Si Es Trucho Es Trucho” plays. – Cheky
5. LSDXOXO – “Sick Bitch”
2021 has been a whirlwind for LSDXOXO, club-hopping from New York to Berlin and scoring a coveted slot on Lady Gaga’s Chromatica remix album, Dawn of Chromatica. But it was their scandalous pounder “Sick Bitch” that set the tone for a year of throbbing bacchanals; weaving circuit party beats with grimy synths and hypnotic vocals boasting about throat gymnastics that would make Cardi B blush. – Richard Villegas
4. Rauw Alejandro – “Cosa Guapa”
Until recently, incorporating EDM into your songs was an idea with little traction. Now, every artist under the sun is all-in with the concept. To great success, fans have embraced the sound—and Rauw Alejandro can count himself as a contemporary pioneer. Zigging when others zagged, Rauw laid down the blueprint and continues it with “Cosa Guapa.” Urgent drums kick in at the halfway mark and take the track to a whole new level. Nevermore versatile, Rauw even switches up the lyrics and peppers in some English. The brisk rhythm transforms any setting into a euphoric dance floor. Zeal like this guarantees no end in sight for this welcome fad. – Juan J. Arroyo
3. Javiera Mena – “Diva (feat. Chico Blanco)”
For the last few years, Spain has been home to Chilean indie pop queen Javiera Mena, who in 2021 found fresh inspiration in underground raves strewn across the Iberian Peninsula and poured her most hedonistic experiences into soaring dance anthem, “Diva.” Joined by club-trap whiz Chico Blanco, the uncontainable banger ramps up the BPMs unfolding like a tale of dance floor seduction bathed in strobing lights. – Richard Villegas
2. Diego Raposo, Sango, mediopicky, Esty – “Work That $hit”
Motivational in every sense, “Work That $hit” compels the body to move as much as it revives las ganas to do whatever you wanna do with this life. Dominican producer Diego Raposo brought in artists and fellow Dominicans Esty and Mediopicky, plus American producer Sango, to round out a track that feels Caribbean, feels like hip-hop, and, in its lyrical ethos especially, feels punk AF. The promise of meritocracy has proven itself to be devastatingly false, but “Work That $hit” also subliminally reminds us to recalibrate what it means to win. This is the soundtrack to striving for success—your own version of it. – Jhoni Jackson
1. Arca – “Incendio”
Only weeks before the demise of 2021, Venezuelan star Arca blessed us with the remaining four installments of her KICK series, set off last year with the release of the mind-bending KiCk i. But back in September, when we were oblivious of the avalanche coming upon us, Alejandra Ghersi dropped a bomb called “Incendio,” a track sent to destroy all dancefloors. Co-produced by Mike Luva, the KicK iii single is proof of Ghersi’s tremendous gift of creating entire vivid fantasy worlds we can inhabit any time we want, this time by conjugating an explosive funk carioca-referencing beat and a whole lot of badass attitude overflowing her intricate rap —Caraqueña style, of course. It’s the kind of art we can draw power from to feel invincible, even if it’s only for three minutes. – Cheky