PERHAPS IT'S A good thing bachata boy band Aventura grew up in the South Bronx rather than the Dominican Republic. While the bachata Latin genre is popular in the DR, it was considered hick music for older folks due to its origins in the rural countryside. But there were no stigmas attached to the music in New York, where Dominican-Yorkers like Aventura's lead singer and heartthrob Anthony "Romeo" Santos could sing enchanting and soulful love ballads to his heart's content. "Many people thought that bachata was for middle-aged guys who would kill themselves if their wife didn't come back for them. It's sad stuff, man." Sad might be an understatement. The original name for the bachata genre was "amargue" — bitter — and its lyrics are laced with heartbreak, infidelity and tears. But in the 1990s, many bachata bands ditched the acoustic guitar in favor of electric while keeping the traditional bongos and guira percussion instruments. Aventura took it a step further and added R&B and hip-hop elements — that led to more than 1 million albums sold thanks to hit singles "Ella y Yo," "Mi Corazoncito," "Obsesion" and the newly released "Por un Segundo."
"It's tough for young people to admit they like bachata because of its reputation as a 'back in the days' type of music, but now they can say it with pride that they love bachata because of Aventura." The title of the new album, "the Last," had many fans fearing the group might split up, but it's merely the final album under Aventura's old contract with Premium Latin Music label. It's also a signal that change is coming to the band's music. "We don't want to marry any genre," said Santos. "We definitely want do more collaborations in the future. But you can say goodbye to 100 percent bachata." The new album features Santos translating Wyclef Jean and Ludacris trying to woo in "Spanish Fly" and in "All Up 2 You" an electronic booming beat is layered with Spanish-language raps from reggeaton duo Wisin y Yandel and R&B singer Akon (yes, Akon en espanol).