Reik Hits a New Stride, In a New Groove

Reik Hits a New Stride, In a New Groove

“We’re committing to the new image so people are aware that we want to move forward,” says Reik guitarist and vocalist Julio Ramirez. “We don’t want to live off nostalgia.”

The Latin pop band, traditionally known for their timeless love songs, is currently touring arenas across the U.S. And instead of opening their shows with familiar ballads, the Mexican trio have opted to showcase a few funky songs from their album Panorama, which came out on May 9.

Reik was formed in 2003 by Ramírez, fellow guitarist Bibi Marín, and lead singer Jesús Navarro, who all grew up near the U.S.-Mexico border in Mexicali. Fittingly, the band’s music embodied both cultures, putting a Spanish spin on the era’s pop-rock sound. (“Reik” is a nod to the rake, or strum technique, of playing guitar.) While pop-punk and emo groups like Panda and Allison were also on the rise in Mexico, Reik presented a softer, more sentimental alternative. In 2005, the band’s self-titled debut album landed with their hit single “Yo Quisiera,” an ode to wanting a friendship to blossom into a romantic relationship. They also explored heartbreak in the power ballad “Noviembre Sin Ti.”

Reik Hits a New Stride, In a New GrooveReik Hits a New Stride, In a New Groove

(Credit: Courtesy of Reik)

“It just comes natural for us to talk about [romance],” Marín says. “It’s not really complicated. It’s easy. That’s certainly something everyone can relate to. Whatever the situation, all of these emotions and feelings come out of love.”

While Reik’s contemporaries fell away in the following years, Navarro, Ramírez, and Marín continued to charm audiences throughout Latin America and the U.S. with their guitar-driven love songs. The band’s third album, 2008’s Un Día Más, later garnered them a 2009 Latin Grammy Award for Best Pop Album by a Duo/Group with Vocals. After over two decades as a band, the trio have only grown closer as a unit. They chalk up Reik’s success to the connection and chemistry they share.

“We got to grow up in this really different set of circumstances,” Navarro recalls. “It’s informed who we’ve become as adults. I’m very grateful that we’ve had the experience that we’ve had and that we’ve been working artists for 20 years, which is not easy to do.”

Towards the end of the last decade, Latin music went global thanks to the reggaeton explosion—and to adapt with the times, Reik seamlessly blended their romantic sound with the Caribbean rhythm. In 2018, they received a second wind in their career with the explosive “Me Niego,” a collaborative single with Puerto Rican stars Ozuna and Wisin that currently has a billion views on YouTube. Reik continued to collaborate with reggaeton acts like J Balvin, Maluma, and Manuel Turizo, only helping them reach another demographic of fans.

“It’s one of the best learning experiences of our lives,” Navarro says. “Up to that point, we had only ever worked with a few producers and we wrote our own songs. We were used to a way of working and delivering that work. Then we started meeting all these people, and they have these different processes, techniques, and philosophies. It was so interesting to see that and to learn from it.”

What they learned is that their sound has no limit. They later dabbled in K-pop when Super Junior tapped them for the Latin-infused “One More Time (Otra Vez)”; and amidst the current música mexicana boom, Reik also put a pop spin on genres like banda, mariachi, and ranchera with Mexican acts including Christian Nodal and Grupo Firme. It’s that open-mindedness that informed Reik’s adventurous return to pop with the Panorama album.

“We really liked Harry Styles’ last album [Harry’s House],” Ramírez says. “We also liked the Weeknd and Bruno Mars. I remember Jesús mentioning Troye Sivan and Finneas [as influences]. Almost all those are upbeat, in a sense. They might have ballads, but their pop is really refreshing. With those references in mind, [Panorama] is what came up.”

Reik hits a new stride in Latin pop throughout the band’s grooviest album yet. The psychedelic “Baja California” is an ode to the guys’ home state in Mexico. The title track is a punchy kiss-off to a relationship that’s run its course. Carín León, who is known for blending música mexicana with country, embraces disco-inflected pop for the first time with Reik in the sexy “El Correcto.”

(Credit: Courtesy of Reik)(Credit: Courtesy of Reik)

(Credit: Courtesy of Reik)

“We’re all from the north of Mexico, which bonds us in a really weird way,” Navarro says about working with León. “He was just really into the fact that we were putting out a pop album and doing a pop record with us, which I loved and really appreciated. It was super fun to do it.”

Reik opened the Panorama Tour every night with those three aforementioned songs before diving into their classics. That sequencing signals a certain priority for the Latin heartthrobs as they approach their 40s: Instead of resting on their laurels, they continue to build upon their legacy.

“Generally speaking, we want to be here for longer, always making new music, being able to experiment, and to find ourselves in new situations with new collaborations,” Ramírez says. “We’re still in this game to do stuff and keep expanding.”

To see our running list of the top 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.

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