MIAMI (Billboard) - The latest musical style to target young, bilingual Latin audiences is urban bachata, the blend of traditional Dominican bachata and R&B that first gained notoriety with Aventura.
Last year, newcomer Toby Love made a dent in the market with his self-titled Sony BMG debut.
Now, Xtreme becomes the latest group to successfully enter the realm of urban bachata.
With a radio hit, “Shorty Shorty,” that jumped from No. 7 to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart (this week it’s No. 5), Xtreme is suddenly on everyone’s radar. But the duo, made up of Bronx friends Steve Styles and Danny D., has been quietly working its way to the top for nearly two years.
Like Aventura and Toby Love, Xtreme’s music is romantic bachata -- a guitar-based variation on Cuban bolero that originated in the Dominican Republic. That’s a direct result of Styles’ and Danny D.’s background. The songs are bilingual, says Styles, who writes and produces with Danny D., simply “because we speak both languages.”
The basic beat is bachata -- recognizable for its trademark, brittle guitar lines -- because both have Dominican parents and because “bachata was a much easier, better way to express our music,” Styles says. “Merengue is harder, it’s one beat. Bachata lends itself more to romantic material.”
Xtreme caught the attention of producer Sergio George when he saw it perform its mix of bachata, pop and R&B at a New York college in 2004.
George and partner George Zamora signed the group to their label, SGZ, and released “Xtreme” in 2005. When SGZ was acquired by Univision Music Group and became La Calle Records, Zamora and George took Xtreme with them and rereleased the album in April 2006. Bolstered by a well-performing single, “Te Extrano,” sales held up, notching 16,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Xtreme’s sophomore album, “Nuestra Historia,” came out November 23, 2006, and “Shorty Shorty” debuted December 2 on Hot Latin Songs. To date, the album has sold 18,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Xtreme’s audience is not only Dominicans, but includes second-generation Hispanics from many backgrounds, including Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.
But in an effort to further broaden the group’s appeal, this week Univision will release a pop version of the song, targeting Latin pop stations in an effort to take the song beyond tropical and Latin rhythmic stations.
Xtreme, which is wrapping a grassroots performance tour of six New York-area high schools, will soon release a second single, “A Donde Se Fue.” It will promote the track via an online contest to choose two female dancers to be featured in the video.
Also in the works, Zamora says, is an all-English version of “Shorty Shorty” that will be promoted to mainstream R&B radio.
“We’ll probably change it into more of a hip-hop beat for English radio,” Zamora says. “I don’t think urban radio will accept the bachata beat.”