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Juanes Rocks 'The Tonight Show' in Spanish: Will His Performance Kickstart a Wave of Spanish-Speaking Artists on Late Night TV?

First Posted: Mar 12, 2014 06:32 PM EDT
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Juanes on The Tonight Show

Photo : Facebook/Juanes

Juanes on The Tonight Show

Photo : Facebook/Juanes

Colombian superstar and Latin alternative rocker Juanes is on fire right now, leaving both English and Spanish-speaking audiences ablaze with his long-awaited return to music after four years.

He currently holds the No. 1 and 2 spots on the U.S. Latin Pop Sales Chart at iTunes. His new album, Loco De Amor (Crazy for Love) has also hit No. 1 today on the overall iTunes charts in over a dozen countries -- including: Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Chile, among others.

On Tuesday night, Jimmy Fallon welcomed Juanes to The Tonight Show, where he rocked the stage with his performance of La Luz off of his latest album, Loco de Amor. He also set a precedent as the first-ever Spanish language performer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, since Fallon took over for former host, Jay Leno. (In 2012, Juanes also performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.)

During his Tonight Show performance, Juanes was beaming with joy and his energy was contagious, it was as if he was picking up where he left off, resonating an effortless cool and a humble nature that he's always possessed throughout his career.

"Colombian music is in my blood, in my DNA," he told Billboard. "It's the music I've heard since I was a child -- it's impossible to avoid."

While it's never been Juanes' goal to be a Spanish-to-English crossover star, he continues to win over English-speaking audiences as well, proving that his songs resonate with both audiences -- and that he doesn't need to conform to mainstream music in the U.S.

"Juanes makes acoustic-driven pop-rock that's immediately accessible even if you don't know Spanish at all. ["La Luz"], an instantly memorable tune from 'Loco de Amor,' his first album in four years, is measurably sharper than most pop right now," according to The New York Post.

Juanes has an incredibly successful career thus far and he continues to rise -- he has six solo albums to his credit and multi-platinum sales of over 15 million copies.

He's the world's leading all-Spanish language rock artist with two Grammys and 19 Latin Grammys under his belt, as well as with nine No. 1 singles on Billboard's Latin Singles charts. He's been called "the first truly international rock star to emerge from Latin America" by The Associated Press and "a soulful poet and Latin America's hottest singer-songwriter," by The New York Times.

As a Spanish-speaking artist, he has one of the biggest social media followings with over 15 million fans.

For Loco de Amor, Juanes teamed up with five-time Grammy Award-winning English producer Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with stellar acts, such as The Rolling Stones, U2, Dave Matthews Band, The Killers and Morrissey.

Juanes also teamed up with an impressive line-up of musicians, including: Emmanuel 'Meme' del Real ("Café Tacvba"), Abe Laboriel on the drums (Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney), Brian Ray on the guitar (Paul McCartney), percussionist Richard Bravo, and Fernando Tobon with the guitar and the Colombian tiple.

With a warm welcome from Fallon and English producer Lillywhite, you could say that Juanes is bridging the gap and may kickstart Spanish-language musicians on late night TV.

Looking back at the history of late night television, there hasn't been a huge amount of Spanish-speaking performers, but that may soon be changing. In 1986, José Feliciano (who's known for his Spanish/English hit, Feliz Navidad) sang Vamos A Bailar in Spanish on The Tonight Show. A few years ago, Los Lobos performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live. While there have been other Latino artists who have performed on late night TV, from Ricky Martin to Shakira and Selena Gomez, they have either been Latin crossover stars, or Latin, English-language singers -- unlike Juanes.

There is more diversity when it comes to singers and musicians performing on late night TV, whereas white males still dominate the late night airwaves -- from Jimmy Fallon to David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien, Craig Ferguson, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and Carson Daly -- however with Fallon at the helm, and his enthusiam for Juanes, we just might be in store for some change.

Check out Juanes performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on March 11, 2014 and a look back at José Feliciano on The Tonight Show in 1986 below.

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Singer Jose Feliciano performs Vamos a Bailar in 1986.

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