While we’ve been seeing Bad Bunny put up monster numbers in the Latin field for a couple years at this point, the latest album from Colombian star KAROL G has seen her take an impressive record for herself – narrowly edging out the ongoing success of SZA’s SOS, MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO is history’s first #1 album by a Spanish-language female artist. And with equally colourful cover art, a lot of the things that made Un Verano Sin Ti so appealing show up here as well: KAROL G manages to take the typical reggaeton templates, add a little extra spice here and there instrumentally, and infuse the tracks with the kind of personality that transcends language barriers. While there’s a little more standard, formulaic reggaeton on the project than I would have liked, KAROL G has made an album that should be lasting until it becomes a soundtrack for the heat of the summer months – and for good reason.
The first notes of “MIENTRAS ME CURO DEL CORA” drop into a sped-up sample of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – which is actually initially somewhat jarring, speeding up the tempo on such a famously laid-back tune, but it provides an appropriately breezy backdrop for a song about heading to the beach for a little self-care. KAROL G’s vocals are equally breezy as she sings the album’s title – “tomorrow will be beautiful” – a couple times, introducing an album that seems to be roughly based around recovering from a breakup and rediscovering herself. Of course, that doesn’t come without its struggles, and “X SI VOLVEMOS” finds her living in the past, chasing what she terms an addiction and trying to get back together for one more night. With her ex-partner played by Romeo Santos, just one of a few legendary figures who appear on the album to usher KAROL G into the world of the megastars, there’s not a lot of excitement to be found musically as it drops into a familiar reggaeton groove, but it’s a fun collaboration and necessary for the album’s narrative. “PERO TÚ” invites a newer star in Quevedo onto the track as KAROL G remains caught up in her memories, and the two have highly complementary voices as they come together for a bit of a slow jam. She responds to Quevedo’s deep and resonant tone with her most breathy and angelic one up in the top of her register, and a lot of what has drawn so many people to KAROL G’s music must be her believability and commitment to her performances. The next track, “BESTIES,” doesn’t have much of note instrumentally, but as she sings about going out with her friends, she mirrors her lyrics by sounding like she’s having a great time and stepping into the kind of confident persona that would attract everyone to her on the dance floor.
The album’s next run of tracks, thankfully, gets a little more experimental. “GUCCI LOS PAÑOS” arrives in full mariachi territory, right down to a tuba in the mix oom-pahing away as KAROL G gets into some retail therapy. The complexity of some of the guitar parts and the traditional sound are the highlights, KAROL G sounding like a princess decked out in Gucci being carried down the street as she finally deletes the memories off of her phone and offers a couple lyrical bars. “TQG” takes it a step further, as she begins relishing in her ex-partner now wanting her back after she’s moved on, set to an eerie soundscape as she chuckles to herself and bringing the perfect guest on board: Shakira. Bolstering the reggaeton standards with massive percussion and an echoey filter that makes it hit so much harder, Shakira’s instantly recognizable and powerful voice backs up KAROL G’s snarkier tone as the two combine for one of the album’s catchiest choruses. “TUS GAFITAS” brings a new and refreshing sound to the album, as things get into a bit of an alt-rock territory. Bringing some incredible harmonies, a laid-back and cool energy that fits well with the driving guitar chords, and a chorus of chopped-up vocals, it’s a fun and delightfully unexpected collision of sounds. “OJOS FERRARI” switches the genre again for a hip-hop banger. Chanted vocals announce the plans to partake in a variety of substances, and KAROL G really leans into the repetitive nature of the track by sounding like she’s spinning out of control in her delivery. It’s a great party track on the surface, with a bit of caution mixed in as she continues to through the many options for healing.
The album’s second half retreats back into some more familiar sounds, but KAROL G still brings a lot to get caught up in on her end. “MERCURIO” is another slow and sensual tune, as she tells her new love interest to forget about astrology, signs from the universe and the like – she’s offering something real and in front of them at that moment. Some nice guitar chords paint the blissful romantic atmosphere as things shift to single “GATÚBELA” – Spanish for “Catwoman.” As KAROL G compares herself to the famous antihero, it seems as though she’s making a cheeky reference to Selina Kyle’s Caped Crusader being disallowed from performing a certain romantic action by the higher-ups at the TV studio recently – as that’s what most of the subject matter touches on. It’s a mostly safe choice as a single, but it does possess a fun, rapped verse from Maldy. “KÁRMIKA” coasts on creeping, ghostly tones and the normal bump of a reggaeton beat, but the guest appearances from Sean Paul and Bad Gyal really elevate things once again – it still hits every time Paul drops into the track with a bidi-bang-bang-babygirl, and a new crunchy synth tone backing up Bad Gyal was the switch-up moment the track desperately needed. It leads into smash hit single “PROVENZA,” a tropical track which doesn’t really hit for an active listener – more so as beachfront background music. Before a couple late-album gems, we get “CAROLINA” – another formulaic song with a great vocal performance. It’s named after KAROL G’s birth name, which she uses to say that whoever she’s with isn’t going to forget about her in a hurry.
The back-to-back tracks “DAÑAMOS LA AMISTAD” and “AMARGURA” really stand out near the album’s conclusion. The former has another hard-hitting alteration to the typical reggaeton beat, with a duet with Sech on top as KAROL G sings about regretting taking things too far with a good friend during a wild night in Puerto Rico. With some engaging digitized synth tones in the mix, KAROL G’s performance is at her most playful on the half-rapped verses. “AMARGURA” finds her releasing the last bit of mourning for what was as she sees her ex finally moving on. With a highly touching melody that does something to pull at the heartstrings, it’s another one where harmonies are KAROL G’s biggest strength as she makes some beautiful musical decisions. Things wind down with “CAIRO,” which unfortunately feels like the biggest filler track of them all with a more meandering melody, and the final affirmation that is the album’s title track.
For an album that’s going to go down in the history books, I’m glad that it’s one that sticks to a concept and a mode of storytelling well, with a handful of fun tracks along the way. KAROL G is still on the upswing when it comes to her quest for global domination, and if her personality-driven performances here are taken into account, her star power should find her assuming that position quite easily.
Favourite Tracks: TUS GAFITAS, TQG, GUCCI LOS PAÑOS, AMARGURA, DAÑAMOS LA AMISTAD
Least Favourite Track: CAIRO