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The top Latino moments, trends and memes of 2021

From Latino TikTok recipes and memes to an iconic Mexican band's reunion and Messi's move, these moments made us laugh and maybe cry and kept us going.
Illustration of Bad Bunny, "Latino, Latina, Latinx," and Sen. Bernie Sanders in a Virgin Mary poncho.
NBC News; Getty Images; Twitter

Amid the tense and ongoing headlines about Covid-19, politics and the economy, memorable events related to music, people and trends kept us smiling this year. Here's a rundown of some of our favorite 2021 moments.

The summer's hottest Latin tour

Earlier this year, the legendary regional Mexican band Los Bukis generated reunion speculation during a livestream concert held by the band’s frontman, Mexican icon Marco Antonio Solís. A few weeks later, the group released a new music video for its hit “Tu Cárcel,” further adding fuel to the rumors. On June 14, Solís and Los Bukis made headlines by announcing their reunion tour, Una Historia Cantada.

For the first time in 25 years, all the original members of the band hit the stage together. The sold-out show was at SoFi Stadium near Los Angeles on Aug. 27. Nine shows and six cities later, the band’s reunion ranked sixth on Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart, selling more than 350,000 tickets and grossing almost $50 million.

“This is historic for us,” Solís said in an interview with People in June. “The parents of young people listen to Los Bukis and connected with sentiment and the songs.”

Fittingly, a trend caught fire on TikTok in which children gifted their parents reunion tour tickets; because of Father's Day, many dads had heartwarming reactions.

Time to try abuela's cooking — on TikTok

From tortas de asada (roast cakes), jibarito Puerto Rican sandwiches and Cuban crackers, Latino TikTok users shared their culinary and cultural prowess on TikTok.

The first year of the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions indoors, shut down restaurants and bars and prompted Latinos who had extra time to jump on the platform and share their favorite recipe from their family or country of origin.

Users such as @latinduckskitchen (Andrea Nicole), @jennymartinezzz (Jenny Martinez) and @robegrill (Roberto Morales) shared some of their favorite dishes, helping them amass millions of views and followers. It was wildly popular, and it kept us going in 2021.

Memes, Latino style

What’s more fun than memes that have been Latinoized?

Perhaps one of the most memorable memes originated from President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was spotted sitting on a folding chair, his arms and legs crossed, wearing oversize mittens — and it generated thousands of memes on social media.

Many Latinos circulated one meme in particular: Tío (Uncle) Bernie is seen wearing a Virgin Mary poncho. The caption said, "Tápese (Cover yourself) Tio Bernie." It was one of many classic memes that transpired that day.

The monumental Messi's historic year

For the many Latinos who live and breathe soccer — think the great "Ted Lasso" line "Fútbol is life!" — it was a big deal when, after more than two decades, Lionel Messi's tenure with FC Barcelona came to a dramatic end.

In the end, the club couldn't afford the Argentinian phenom, though both sides tried to work it out. Messi finished as the club's all-time leading goal-scorer, netting 672 goals. He assisted in 288 and helped lift 35 trophies — which is just a short summary of his record-breaking résumé.

In August, Messi found a new home in France, joining a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain team on a two-year deal and reuniting with his former FC Barcelona teammate and close friend Neymar Jr. The forward opted to use the No. 30 jersey instead of the No. 10 he'd used for the majority of his career. The new number represents the first he wore at FC Barcelona.

Despite Messi's shocking, emotional transfer, he finally saw international success. With a 1-0 win over South American rival Brazil, Argentina lifted the Copa América 2021 trophy, sealing Messi's first international title, a feat he lacked in his illustrious career.

Messi ended 2021 by winning his seventh Ballon d'Or — widely regarded as the most prestigious individual award a soccer player can receive — putting him two wins ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has the second most. For his legions of fans, he didn't disappoint.

Bad Bunny's streaming dominance

For the second consecutive year, Puerto Rican musician Bad Bunny was the most-streamed artist on Spotify, the world's largest streaming service, with more than 381 million users.

Spotify's annual Wrapped campaign revealed that Bad Bunny led global streams, with more than 9.1 billion in 2021, beating out Taylor Swift and South Korean K-Pop band BTS for the top spot.

Bad Bunny recently held his first live performance in over a year in Puerto Rico, celebrating his success and Boricua culture. Early in 2022, fans will be lining up to see him tour North America for El Último Tour del Mundo, which is also the name of his 2020 album.

Latinx: Love it or leave it?

In a year full of diversity and inclusivity, there was much debate around the word "Latinx." The gender-neutral term has been used since the early 2010s and aims to replace the more masculine and feminine terms "Latino" and "Latina."

While many young people, progressives and other people have readily adopted the word, it's become the subject of numerous discussions — and surveys.

A recent poll found that 40 percent of Hispanic voters said the term bothers or offends them and that it could even decrease voter turnout among some Latinos if a politician or political organization were to use the term. The president of the League of United Latin American Citizens recently advised the organization to drop the term from its communications, saying it's "very unliked" in the Latino community.

But it may not be as polarizing as it seems: While a summer Gallup poll found that only 4 percent of Hispanic adults said they prefer Latinx, 57 percent said they have no preference.

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