Last Night a Boy Band Changed My Life

Last Night a Boy Band Changed My Life
Image:Cindy Ord (Getty Images)

The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards took place Sunday night, mostly remotely, and mostly without any events of note—save for a sprightly set pre-show from CNCO (pronounced C-N-C-O). They are Ricky Martin and Simon Cowell’s latest boy band experiment (founded on the first season of the singing competition television show La Banda), a quintet of Latinos poised to become the next great Spanish language boy band if they’re not already there. Prior to Sunday’s performance, I considered myself a casual CNCO fan in the way that I adore all boy bands, but now, I’m all aboard and plan on spending the next few days learning every conceivable fact about the boys. It’s all over for me; I’ve fallen for them and I don’t want to get back up.

Joel Pimental, Richard Camacho, Erick Brian Colón, Christopher Vélez, and Zabdiel De Jesús began their first-ever live rendition of their latest hit, “Beso,” behind the wheel of various cars before popping out to perform a socially distanced, drive-in concert for a few lucky fans in Greenpoint, Brooklyn along the East River. Other acts, like Lady Gaga and Doja Cat, leaned into Y2K-era MTV aesthetics in their performances with retro video footage, but only CNCO fully embodied the spirit of the era: matching looks, impeccably coordinated choreography, a swaggered spirit fitting of the more muscular boy bands of the time. (Think 98 Degrees over, like, the Backstreet Boys.) Watching them made me wonder about an alternative universe where, in 2000, Latin acts weren’t forced to “crossover” by re-recording their songs in English to benefit an intolerant American music market. They deserved better.

Regardless, I’m glad to have CNCO now, performing sexy songs about smooching without pandering to an Anglophonic audience and as a result, losing their indelible charms. It’s clear that the quintet is continuing a tradition laid forth by other Latino boy bands: Martin’s Menudo, Mexico’s Magneto, and bachata greats Aventura—I only hope they can manage to reach One Direction-sized heights. If Cowell’s done it before, surely now is the time to do it again? Ballads recorded in Spanish simply sound better, after all…

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