If any Anglophones are thinking about attempting to say her name out loud, it’s pronounced E.V. Queen.
Jonathan Bogart: It took me a while to warm up to “Peligro de Extinción.” With that title, I’d been expecting a reggaetón rager excoriating the systems of oppression and erasure that threaten Puerto Ricans and Latinos everywhere. But what’s in danger of extinction is “true romance,” “like in the days of old.” So rather than wait around for a Romeo to find her on her balcony, she’s taking the reins and chasing him down herself — which is itself quietly revolutionary, that even in the middle of an old-fashioned love song lamenting the death of old-fashioned love, she’s demanding agency. And Edison Rey’s sweet accordion skillfully threads between the twin romanticisms at the far ends of Latin America, tango and conjunto norteño. It’s perhaps the prettiest single Ivy Queen has ever released (or at least tied with “Dime”), largely letting the reggaetón beat alone in favor of lighter, more swaying cumbia and vallenato. And so what once passed in one ear and out the other when it first leaked back in May now moves me to tears. Of laughter, when she gives the guy That Look in the video, and of sentiment, when the harmonies come lushly in.
Anthony Easton: The accordion is just gorgeous, plus I have always loved Ivy Queen’s voice. In fact, all of this slowed down and stretched out, with less gymnastics required, we have more time to work through what the voice means, and how it sounds — that privilege attached to the accordion just makes it better.
Edward Okulicz: Well, you’ve got to love the sound of an accordion in its natural environment (i.e. not boy band club bangers or Romanian Eurovision entries). And Ivy Queen sings with a real, impressive sense of authority, nearly as regal as the name would imply. That authority and presence is undermined slightly by the beat which drown them out to some extent, though if it were quieter it wouldn’t encourage the hips so much. The trade-off wouldn’t have been worth it.
Will Adams: My first and only exposure to Ivy Queen before “Peligro de Extinción” was this quite funny video, so I went into it expecting something fun. The music is bright enough to inspire early-hours dancing, but the unfamiliar structure and minor key leaning take away some of the fun.
Iain Mew: “That was then. This is now.” An excellent portentous opening, but the song doesn’t end up sounding like the definitive statement that it promises, hanging back too far from embracing dance banger status. The gorgeous squeaky flutter of the accordion is strong compensation.
Josh Langhoff: To say a reggaetón song inhabits multiple musical worlds at once is to say precisely nothing, since (my friend Wiki tells me) “blending” and “taking influences” and “Spanish reggae” have always been part of the point. So instead I’ll say, man, that accordion solo halfway through sounds like a guitar solo — a single line, triplets, repetitive melodic figures stretching for the notes with maximum yearn impact. Tasty! The notes yearn because because of how they fit the chord progression, imported from a million norteamericano pop songs; on top of it, Ms. Queen and her producers build an elaborate vocal structure of multitracked harmonies and shoutouts, even evoking Nelly-style rapstimme at the beginning. Every element seems chosen to sound cool, which is a nice thing about inhabiting multiple musical worlds — you can avoid the tensions you’d find in a Junot Diaz book or, you know, real life.