Book Review: Decoding “Despacito”: An Oral History of Latin Music by Leila Cobo

This post has my personal opinion and you are invited to provide any comments at the end.

How I got the book?

I heard about this book in the Podcast “All The Books” a Podcast from Book Riot which is a weekly book podcast of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases.  In this particular episode this book was presented and I got super curious about it.  I am from Panama and I love Latin music, from spanish rock all the way to Salsa and Reggaeton, so of course, when I heard about it, I immediately bought the book from Barnes and Nobles and went to pick it up.

I truly enjoyed the way this book is written as it breaks down 12 songs that profoundly impacted Latin Music, each song includes an introduction as well as interviews with the Artist, songwriters, Record Label Directors, Video directors, and other key personnel that had an input in the song. 

The songs are presented in the order they were launched.  Going from 1970 all the way to 2018 providing a clear view of the Latin Music movement, changes, innovations, fusions, and collaborations. From Selena to Carlos Vives to Daddy Yankee and Juan Luis Guerra, this book includes all Latin Music genres and goes deep in the impact of the songs in their time it was release, the efforts to make it happen, the creativity of the artists, and the good luck of being at the right place at the right time.

I am Latina and grew up listening to Latin Music and with the years I have built a solid collection of Latin Music, from Juan Luis Guerra to Ricky Martin, my heart and soul are just full of joy every time I put a record in our home.  So I quickly realized this book would become part of my book collection that I can revisit over and over and read it with the same excitement and nostalgia that I would fee when I put an old Miguel Bose record on.

My Personal Opinion:

This book captivated me from the very beginning. The immense impact of the Latin Music is clearly visible in this book.  Also we can clearly see how Music distribution has changed through the decades, and the importance of social media and music accessibility platforms like Spotify and Pandora has impacted how music is widely displayed around the world. It is clear that there are barriers when it comes to music and as the times goes forward different collaborations that includes different music genres from different countries yield to unique music styles that continue to brake barriers and unify music lovers everywhere.

In the book we see the story behind these 12 songs, what inspired them, how the melody was created, how the album or record where put together, the struggles and the many “no”  that gave a “yes” at a later stage.   We can see how music is develop and how it is a team effort in order to have a Mega Hit (along with genuine talent).

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is its content. The choosing of the songs and the artists that were interviewed and provided their view of the song and how it was created.  It is the perfect combination of Latin Music and History.

The Negatives:

The book, although the content is incredibly interesting from all angles, can be a bit of a journalistic and therefore at times can be a bit robotic in the writing. Although I understand the reasons behind it, since I do prefer Fiction and Poetry books, this type of writing can be a bit dry for me. 

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 302
  • Publisher: Vintage Book Orinal
  • Publication Date: March 2021
  • Category: Non Fiction, History, Musical
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? Would you like a personal review to a book? Let me know! I am always looking for recommendations and suggestions to add to my reading list.

Enjoy reading!!!

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