J Balvin: Is He Still Relevant?

Regarding the criticism that J Balvin received for his poor participation in the Estéreo Picnic Festival, we analyze if the Colombian is still relevant for urban music

J Balvin during his presentation at the Grammy Awards

Photo: YT-Recording Academy

LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa Romero

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Leer en español: J Balvin: ¿sigue siendo relevante?

With a career that began in 2007 and was consolidated in 2010, the musical artist J Balvin has gradually built a foundation on which both his music and his fame sit today. The 36-year-old Colombian achieved international fame that has allowed him to be one of the most recognized urban artists, with the most collaborations around the world. His music has spread to places like Japan, where he received acclaim for his concert on the promotional tour of his album "Vibras" in 2018.

However, and despite the apparent strength in the consolidation of his career, J Balvin is criticized today for having disappointed his audience in his presentation at the Festival Estéreo Picnic, in Bogotá, Colombia. Precisely because it was in Colombia, it was expected that this would be a concert not to be forgotten. It seems that the premise will be fulfilled and this concert will not be forgotten, but not in favor of J Balvin, since it was so disappointing that it has received criticism on all social networks and 3 weeks after it was presented, there is still talk about it.

What happened at the FEP?

The Estéro Picnic is the largest music festival in all of Colombia, and after being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, much was expected of the event this year. Many of the festival's fans were surprised when the artists who would perform were published, since the headliner for Saturday, which is normally the most anticipated day, was J Balvin. This festival is recognized for bringing high caliber international artists representing genres such as indie or techno. Although the presentation of a Colombian artist was applauded, it was criticized that this artist was J Balvin, representative of the urban genre. Even so, the presence of the artist managed to break attendance records for the event on Saturday with more than 40,000 attendees.

However, as the presentation progressed, people began to move away from the stage and once the concert ended, a wave of bad reviews flooded social networks. Many mentioned that this was his worst concert and that most of the songs he performed were collaborations with other artists, so J Balvin, instead of singing, only encouraged his fans to follow the lyrics of the songs, which made him look more like a re-enactor than a singer.

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Is J Balvin still relevant?

With this event a question remained in the air, is it still relevant? Without a doubt, J Balvin has managed to create a career that puts him on top, but unfortunately he has not been able to maintain it, or not in the way that would be expected. In musical and technical terms, J Balvin's contribution to the urban genre has been minimal, almost nil, since he has chosen to follow what the industry expects of him, and this is what has given him success.

On the other hand, the relevance it has today does not sit on a musical base, but on a media base. The artist does not stop being mentioned in both national and international media due to the number of scandals in which he finds himself. One of the best known, of course, is his fight with Residente, one of his biggest and strongest critics. This rivalry began with Balvin's statements against the 2021 Latin Grammy Awards. His attempted boycott caused great controversy, since what broadly seemed like a criticism of the industry was actually a tantrum for not having obtained a large amount of nominations as expected.

Likewise, Balvin has been strongly criticized for the way in which he has approached his mental health, using it as a tool to sell his documentary "The Boy From Medellín".

On the other hand, in December of last year, the artist received the Best Afro-Latin Artist of the Year award from the African Entertainment Music Awards (AEMA) in the United States. This happened precisely after the release of the video for her single "Perra", in which black women are tied by the neck with chains. Evidently J Balvin is not an African artist and does not represent this community in any way, so the criticism that rained down on him was enormous.

In contrast to Balvin we find an artist like Bad Bunny, who has shown his versatility both in music and in the talents he has. Although he is an urban genre artist who responds to the "styling" of the time he lives in, he also respects its bases and stays away from absurd scandals like the ones Balvin has. Despite Balvin's fame and success, his relevance is saved by the media, which shows that he is an artist in a tailspin, at least when it comes to music.

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