CNCO, "Deja Vu" (Sony Latin)

In 2015, British record executive and reality TV tycoon Simon Cowell had a novel idea. After assembling the beloved English-Irish boy band One Direction for his show "The X Factor," Cowell would attempt to work the same miracle once more — but this time, in the Latin music space.

Created by Cowell and produced by Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin, Univision's "La Banda" had viewers vote weekly to advance their favorite singers until a final lineup was cast. Hailing from five different parts of Latin America and dubbed CNCO, the Miami-based group soared to the top of Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart, with both its 2016 debut, "Primera Cita" and 2018 album "CNCO."

On their new covers collection, CNCO presses rewind on its favorite Latin hits of yesteryear, revamping pop classics by artists like Mexican R&B group Sin Bandera, Puerto Rican pop heartthrob Chayanne and anglophone-leaning Enrique Iglesias' "Hero."

Each song is polished anew with the same formula that helped CNCO's 2016 breakthrough single, "Reggaetón Lento (Bailemos)," go platinum five times: honeyed group harmonies sung in effortless, homegrown Spanglish, guided by a gentle dembow bounce. But in the black-and-white video for their cover of Ricardo Montaner's 1988 piano ballad, "Tan Enamorados" ("So in Love)," the guys recall an American hit of the same year: New Kids on the Block's "You Got It (the Right Stuff)."

CNCO emerged just as Latin pop began its renaissance in the U.S. mainstream, hallmarked by the ascent of pop-adjacent MCs like Daddy Yankee, J Balvin and Bad Bunny. This new Latin wave dovetailed with a global pop boom that saw the stratospheric rise of K-pop groups like BTS and Blackpink, who rarely, if ever, sing in English. After One Direction's dissolution left a void in the Western pop-music universe, and as millennials and Gen Z clamor for more inclusive, multicultural media, the bilingual CNCO appears primed for mainstream fame.

Suzy Exposito, Los Angeles Times

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