Skills Needed:


The Colombian pop heart-throb Juan Luis Londoño Arias, better known as Maluma, rarely seems to pause for breath. Since making his debut album in 2012, he’s appeared on masses of solo tracks and collaborations, as well as in movies, notably the English and Spanish versions of Disney’s Encanto. Smouldering duets with Shakira in 2016 and Madonna a few years later have brought him to a global audience. In many ways, though, his defining moment remains his second LP, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy, released in 2015 when he was 21 — portraying him as a kind of dual persona: both a sweet-talking balladeer and a dance-floor lothario.

In Don Juan, his sixth album, Maluma sticks to type, giving his huge global fan base what he thinks they want, and in copious quantities. It’s a commercial formula: snappy party tunes powered by the singer’s easy-on-the-ears vocal delivery, as well as his charisma and pin-up looks. The songs’ subject matter isn’t sophisticated, full of raunchy double entendres, but musically things are more interesting: a pan-Latin pop blitz, including reggaeton, R&B and trap, with an occasional dash of bachata.

This album’s lead single, “Coco Loco”, is a ridiculous, sugar-filled cocktail that mixes in the bittersweet electronic melody from Daft Punk’s track “Veridis Quo” and goes to town on lyrical innuendo, including lines which translate as, “Get on the sleigh, baby, your Santa has arrived/ It’s not your birthday, but blow out the candle for me”. It’s all enjoyably camp, even if you’re not a devotee, but you might find your attention drifting at crooning melodies with titles like “Porsche” and “Bikini”.

Maluma is an ardent collaborator, and the album is packed with guest turns from old-school and new-wave Latin music stars. Among these are the Puerto Rican rapper Don Omar, whose dubby 2008 track “Ojitos Chiquitos” appears in sinewy, electro-fied form, and an appearance by the reggaeton singer-songwriter Yandel on the intoxicating, rhythmic “Trofeo”.

Yet at well over 20 songs once you count the bonus material, Don Juan feels cluttered; yet more collaborations, with Burna Boy and J Balvin, were announced, but it’s unclear when these will drop. Maluma might style himself as a lady-killer, but you wish he’d strip back the filler.

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