George Ezra flies to Africa, Rufus Wainwright croons to Judy – the week’s best albums

Maluma, the love and sex video ★★★☆☆

Earlier this year, 28-year-old Colombian Maluma became the first male South American artist to headline London’s O2, drawing 20,000 fervent fans to Greenwich with his Spanish-language pop. The fact that most couldn’t understand the lyrics didn’t matter: they were there to soak up the sexiness Maluma has been exuding since his groundbreaking sophomore album, Dirty Boy Pretty Boy, in 2015. It’s the same heartthrob quality he’s brought to his most recent role on Hollywood rom-com Marry Me, in which he starred opposite Jennifer Lopez, and to his Instagram persona, where he has 62.5 million followers — 17 million more than Harry Styles.

It’s also, one might surmise, what inspired Versace to cast Maluma, who was born in Medellin as Juan Luis Londoño Arias, as the face of its most recent campaign, not to mention Madonna, who signed him up for a collaboration back in 2019 , which caused quite a stir with a video showing her licking his big toe. Since then, Maluma has become an A-lister and has sold over 15 million albums in the US alone. His rise is indicative of the broader Latin music boom, which boasts the fastest revenue growth of any music genre in the world and is vital to platforms like YouTube, where Maluma now has more subscribers than Adele, Drake or Beyoncé.

Presented in two four-track parts, his sixth album, The Love & Sex Tape, fuses traditional reggaeton with softer sounds, drawing on the romance of salsa and emphasizing a darker sound that, according to Maluma, reflects his desire “to be with the roads to communicate”. They are all, as one would expect, some sort of love song; the first four on the “Sex” side are more lewd, while the other half under “Love” is more sincere, if still explicitly lascivious. The first track and lead single, Cositas de la USA (Little Things From the USA), positions him as Lothario, who in the video has three wives on different floors of his hotel, while track four, Mojando Asiatos (Wetting Seats) is one suggestive heartbreak anthem in which Maluma begs to get his “Queen” back.

Nos Comemos Vivos (Eat Us Alive) with Puerto Rican artist Chencho Corleone stands out here because it’s reggaeton at its finest – catchy, lively and beat-driven, with an obvious dub and reggae twist. The album’s production experiments are also fun, like the marimba-style synthesizers and plucked strings on Sexo Sin Titulo (Untitled Sex).

Discerning music isn’t that, but Maluma is a star for the streaming era where quantity matters as much as quality, so maybe it doesn’t really matter if this album feels a bit boring at certain points. The gentle tracks will surely accompany many a sun-drenched party this summer. And before we know it, he’ll be back with a new list of reggaeton hits. Kathleen Johnston

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/what-to-listen-to/review-week-best-new-albums-ezra-maluma-rufus-wainwright-pop/ George Ezra flies to Africa, Rufus Wainwright croons to Judy – the week’s best albums


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