In an era of #fakenews, it’s important to reveal my bias from the get-go: I almost never do celebrity crushes (impractical), but when I do, there’s only one charming, handsome, heavily tattooed Colombian Prince of Reggaeton worth getting worked up about — and that’s Maluma.
Never mind that I’ve got some competition in vying for his attention: he’s the most followed male Latin artist on Instagram. In fact, he’s even featured as a guest panelist in a discussion called Socializing Maluma at Billboard’s 2017 Latin Music Conference next month. I assume the key to his success will boil down to: uh…he’s just that hot.
But if his World Tour stop in support of his 2015 studio LP Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy at Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan last night (March 17) was any indication, Maluma isn’t relying on his pretty boy status to put on a good show…although it does help.
“Shit, I should have bought mints if he picks me to go onstage. I smell like beer!” one girl anxiously chirped to her friends in front of us as we walked walk into the venue. Evidently, more than a few people in the crowd wanted to fuck him that night. (Get in line.)
The 2-hour set, performed entirely in Spanish (aside from a few “New/Nueva York!“-s and some frequent call-outs of his oh-so-fitting nickname/album title, “Pretty boy, dirty boy“) was a smoke, flame, dancer and confetti-filled affair on par with that of any pop princess spectacle, despite this being Maluma’s first headlining tour. (He’s only 23, by the way.)
With an impressive arsenal of supremely catchy, high energy reggaeton-pop hits already lining his studded back pockets, Maluma tore through about twenty cuts, including “Borró Cassette,” “El Perdedor” (my personal favorite) and “La Temperatura,” providing a fiery, welcoming burst of Latin energy in stark contrast to the rowdy St. Patrick’s Day drunks yelling in green on the frigid streets just outside the venue. His voice held steady above the booming mixes and explosions onstage; how he could nail that sexy-smooth delivery while sweatily thrusting and strutting across a stage is no doubt a testament to his skillful mastery of suave.
Maluma’s greatest strength is his array of superstar features, and the crooner covered all the best hits, from “Vente Pa’ Ca” with Ricky Martin to “Desde Esa Noche” with Thalia to an encore of controversy-baiting fuckboy anthem “Cuatro Babys” with with Noriel, Bryant Myers and Juhn — and, of course, his massive global smash, “Chantaje” with Shakira. (Both Shaki-bangers, actually: he did his remix of Carlos Vives and Shakira’s “La Bicicleta,” too.)
Still, Maluma is aware of his Maluma-dom, and he capitalized on the captive and unapologetically horny audience with knowing glances, devious smirks and copious Magic Mike XXL-like air humping throughout the night. He changed frequently, and disrobed often. (No one minded.)
At one point, he pulled a Britney/Janet and brought one lucky young woman onstage to seductively serenade; the deathly jealousy of thousands of women in the audience (and the few gays) hanging in the air was palpable. He wrapped the wildly lucky girl’s arms around his waist as he sat against her on a stool, caressing her face and, at the very end, leaned in for what was not a peck, not yet a full-on make out sesh. The screams in the crowd weren’t gleeful, but outraged.
Just as quickly, she was ushered offstage, and Maluma was theirs for the shrieking once again.
Whether Maluma intends on formally crossing over to the United States with his next studio album remains to be seen (“Chantaje” went to No. 51 on the Hot 100 despite being entirely in Spanish, thanks to the wattage of Shakluma), but last night made it clear: there will certainly be an eager audience waiting for him if he does.