Every month, Billboard Latin and Billboard Español editors spotlight a group of rising artists whose music we love. Think “diamantes en bruto,” or “diamonds in the rough.” These are newcomers who have yet to impact the mainstream — but whose music excites us, and who we believe our readers should make a point to discover.
Our latest edition of On the Radar Latin includes five emerging artists, who we might’ve found anywhere from a Spotify playlist to a music showcase. See our recommendations below.
Artist: I AM
Why They Should Be On Your Radar: In her introspective debut album, ECDYSIS, an homage to her Chilean roots and ancestral heritage, I AM delves into the soul of Spanish-language rock while championing whale conservation. Weaving together experimental rock with the evocative sounds of the Mapuche tribe and their Mapudugun chants — alongside over 1,000 pitches of whale vocalization — ECDYSIS unveils itself as a captivating and meditative odyssey. The Chilean artist suggests that immersing oneself in whale songs has the potential to evoke transformative experiences, akin to those encountered through the consumption of plant medicines like psilocybin mushrooms or ayahuasca.
Highlighted by tracks like “Riley,” “Raven, and “Lara,” which channel the electrifying spirit of rock’s golden age, the 11-track album uniquely features six single letters as titles, spelling out “Sophia” — a symbolic reference to “The Mother and womb of creation that keeps us going throughout it all,” she tells Billboard Español. “The [album title] itself represents the process of shedding the skin that no longer serves us, and the choice of letting it go in order to return to our hearts.” As a songwriter and producer, I AM has worked with Selena Gómez, Maria Becerra, Sofia Reyes and DJ Snake as K Sotomayor. — ISABELA RAYGOZA
Song For Your Playlist: “Raven”
Artist: Adrián Bello
Why They Should Be on Your Radar: Adrián Bello is a 32-year-old indie-pop artist who has been paving his way in his native country and beyond with a style that’s as versatile as it is colorful. Having started writing music at the age of 10, he debuted in 2018 with a soul album in English, Apprentice, which showed influences from Ray Charles and Nina Simone to Adele, Sam Smith and Amy Winehouse. In 2022 he followed that effort with the 16-track album Bailemos en la Sala, fusing pop with Latin American genres like bolero, samba and andino, and collaborating with colleagues like Ximena Sariñana, Esteman and Josean Log.
“I would describe my music like an embrace — of the good and the bad,” Bello tells Billboard Español. “I like to sing to the emotions and try to share common stories and generate connection. I am a faithful believer that we are all actually very similar and have similar experiences.” His latest output is “Otros Ritmos,” a sweet, upbeat song released in November, inspired “by those who one day are the most important thing in our lives and the next one are strangers dancing to ‘other rhythms,’” he explains. It is the first single from his upcoming album, which he plans to release in the first half of 2024. — SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS
Song for Your Playlist: “Otros Ritmos”
Name: Flor Alvarez
Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Scrolling through TikTok, as per usual, I came across the captivating vocals of Flor Alvarez. In the viral clip, the short-haired, pierced young lady is wearing a purple tank top and holding a speaker on her left arm: she’s covering Los Ángeles Azules’ and Maria Becerra’s “El Amor de Mi Vida.” Boasting over 31 million views since the video was posted on Dec. 2, it’s evident that Flor has enraptured people on social media with her distinct, sugary-raspy voice, as well as with her humility and charismatic personality. A local street performer from Argentina, who can often be found singing in a train, Flor has already released the EP Etapas and is currently making the rounds with her single “Sin Querer,” in collaboration with Fer Vazquez — a heartfelt cumbia song about unrequited love. Since her viral clip, Flor has garnered nearly two million followers on TikTok. — JESSICA ROIZ
Song For Your Playlist: “Sin Querer” (with Fer Vazquez)
Why They Should Be On Your Radar: Taking cues from ‘80s city pop with Latin alternative sensibilities, the Mexico City duo Juanpalitoschinos, consisting of Friné Alejo and Joan Page, adds to the blossoming scene of Latin stars claiming influences from Japan. Melding retro sounds with polished production, the pair’s floor-filling tracks — epitomized by the recent, lovelorn release “Cuando Me Amabas” — seamlessly blend disco influences with heartfelt vocals over vintage synth melodies.
Debuting in 2020 with “Bellavista 130,” a mellow track that set the tone for their distinctive sound, Juanpalitoschinos (translating to “Juan chopsticks”) has been steadily gaining recognition as an innovative group that draws inspiration from East Asian art. Its July release, “¿Por Qué No Contestas?” with Gusstav, serves as a teaser for their upcoming album — showcasing the duo’s ability to craft hits that evoke both dancefloor energy and J-pop nostalgia. — I.R.
Song For Your Playlist: “Cuando Me Amabas”