'Golden' touch: Romeo Santos talks world tour, #MeToo and the song that makes him emotional

by Victoria Moll-Ramírez /  / Updated 
Image: Romeo Santos performing on the TODAY show
Romeo Santos performing on the TODAY show on April 27.Anthony Quintano / TODAY

It’s his third solo album, his third solo world tour, and he sold out three nights at Madison Square Garden — again. In Romeo Santos’ world, this third go around is a result of a single constant: Santos has an incomparable ability to create endless chart-topping songs, as we see in his new album, "Golden."

His U.S. tour, which kicked off this week in New York City, goes overseas, followed by Latin America and ending in the Caribbean.

Santos' career has spanned nearly 20 years, and his voice is instantly recognizable in a genre he helped bring into the mainstream. The "King of Bachata," as he is known, has incorporated different musical fusions while not losing the overall sound of bachata, a gentle, soulful, genre that originated in the Dominican Republic. “I love experimenting and I love the fusion of always showing evolution.”

Yet he remains true to its roots. "You can’t have a successful career or proclaim to be a King of Bachata if you don’t have records that are just that, bachata. Just pure hick, soulful, you know like the bachata our parents used to listen to. And I wanted to include that in 'Golden.'”

The soft spoken and somewhat timid Bronx native has 11.8 million followers on Instagram alone. His latest video for his song “Sobredosis,” featuring reggaeton sensation Ozuna, reached nearly 4 million views in its first 48 hours.

His creative process is comprised of a simple concept, follow the beat. “I let the music be a very organic process. What I mean by that is that I usually let instruments, sounds, inspire me to write. When you hear me sing about love it’s because that’s what I felt had to be the theme.”

When asked whether he’s ever gotten emotional while writing his own songs, he let out a big laugh and said, “Nah! That [expletive] be awkward. No, I’ve felt different emotions, I’ve gotten goosebumps and that happens a lot. I’ve never quite cried.”

However, Santos shares a moment when he did. "I cried hearing a Ricardo Arjona song called ‘Mi Novia Se Me Esta Poniendo Vieja.’” Arjona is a widely successful Guatemalan singer and songwriter who has sold over 40 million albums.

The song is one big analogy where Arjona discusses how his girlfriend is getting older, she doesn’t dance like she used to, how she’s overprotective. At the end of the song you realize that his “girlfriend” is actually his mom.

Santos said it gets him every time. “I’ve always tried on occasions to write a song to my mom and it just doesn’t happen. To me it’s just one of those perfectly written records and I’ve been wanting to have a moment, a one-on-one, with Ricardo Arjona to thank him for writing that song. It was just genius.“

#MeToo and female empowerment

Most of Santos’ songs are about women, whether it be an admiration for their physique, the way they break hearts or the way they love, and he is unabashed about his love for them. He also acknowledges he owes his career to them.

“When Aventura (his original group) started in this industry, men weren’t too fond of us,” Santos said. “Women always, they backed us up. When you would go to an Aventura show in the early 2000s, I would say that probably, 95 percent of the crowd was females and that other 5 percent were just dudes that were being dragged by their girlfriends.”

On #MeToo, Santos says he on board. “I embrace anything, any corporation, any organization that has to do with with women power. I feel like there should be equality so, yo mil porciento apoyo eso (I one-thousand percent support that).”

"I don’t think it’s a secret that women are more intelligent than men. They calculate better, they’re more patient," said Santos, sure to please many of his fans.

The personal impact of Hurricane Maria

Though he is known for bachata, a Dominican music style, Santos’ mother is from Puerto Rico.

He has multiple family members across the island, from San Juan to Humacao —aunts, uncles, cousins and even his own grandmother, “The first few days of the tragedy it was very devastating, because I couldn’t communicate with them, and I didn’t know what to think, so that was pretty stressful for me and my family.”

He said his family in Puerto Rico was okay, "under the circumstances.” Physically, he said, everyone is fine but their homes suffered structural damages after Hurricane Maria, and he has been helping them rebuild.

Santos forms a part of the “Somos Una Voz” humanitarian initiative that was started by fellow artists Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. “Morally I had to do something, and I’m glad that I was part of something that helped; we need to do more.”

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