The 37-year-old bachata artist has been in the spotlight for years, largely thanks to his wildly popular band, Aventura, who split up back in 2011. Since then, Santos' solo career has soared, garnering collaborations with the likes of Marc Anthony, Drake, Nicki Minaj and others. All the previous success seems to have led to this specific moment -- a headlining concert at MetLife Stadium.
The Bronx-born singer will become the first Latin artist to headline the New Jersey stadium during his Sept. 21 show. Santos is no stranger to performing iconic venues, having sold out Yankee Stadium for two nights in a row back in 2014.
ET recently spoke with Santos in New York City, where he discussed his upcoming performance at the 80,000-seat venue, his new album, Utopia -- which, to the delight of fans, includes a reunion track with his Aventura bandmates -- the possibility of even more Aventura songs, and his hopes for his legacy.
ET: You're the first Latin artist to headline the MetLife Stadium. Has performing at the stadium been on your bucket list forever?
Romeo Santos: I’m super excited. I’m very thrilled, anxious, you know, preparing for a huge night. The tickets took off amazing, so I’m really happy about that. And I’m just preparing like I said. I want it to be a very epic night.
Your album, Utopia, peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Latin charts.Fans have gone crazy over it. What does that reaction mean to you?
I’m never the type to take any of that for granted and to sit there and say that I’ve debuted at No. 1 with every album, so this has to be the same. No! It’s like starting from scratch. And to be able to debut at No. 1 once again is a blessing.
I really worked hard on this album. I’ve been thinking about this concept for nearly seven years. Since it involved so many different artists, that’s why I never really, like, gave it the priority… They’re so active where they have so many tours and they’re working on albums themselves. So I just woke up one day and said, “You know what? I gotta do this. This is the time. I got focus.” I explained to each and every one of them how important this was for the culture, for their careers, for my career. And, you know, the rest is history.
What’s at the heart of the album? Who is it dedicated to? What does it mean to you?
It’s dedicated to true bachata fans, traditional bachata fans. What I did was I recruited every bachata artist that inspired me in the ‘90s and, with each and every one of them, I catered to their style back then. So I got musicians that weren’t even longer active. When I started working on the music and was able to get some of these musicians out in [the Dominican Republic], some of the artists were like, “How did you get them? I heard he wasn’t even trying to do music anymore!” So it was truly fun. I had a lot of fun working on this.
Utopia features collaborations with several artists including Aventura. Why was it important for you to hit the studio with them and bring everyone back together? How did it come about?
I wanted to kind of, like, tell a story: bachata -- the journey of bachata, the history of bachata. I didn’t want anything to be left out. And I say this respectfully, not to sound arrogant, but I think Aventura has played a huge part in the legacy of our genre, you know, our culture and bachata. So there was a moment for me to once again do music with my brothers, that was definitely this project.
And it’s interesting because I didn’t tell them till after the fact. They were literally recording their participation not knowing what they were going to be part of. It was just me being extra cautious. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. I was very secretive. And once we did the song [“Inmortal”] I mixed and mastered everything and just showed them. I said, “This is what you’re part of.” I took a chance. I knew they weren’t going to be like, “OK, I don’t want to participate.”
What was it like getting back in the studio with them? Was it nice to perform together again? I know you guys recently reunited for the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
With Lenny it was, you know, I’ve already worked on some things with him prior to this Aventura [song]. So it’s always fun working with him. It was super cool working with Mikey and my cousin, Henry. It’s just, like, the chemistry just continues. It never vanished. It never got weak or anything like that. It was, like, our chemistry, not only in the studio, but also on stage that night we performed at the Latin Billboards. We just look at each other and we just have this crazy chemistry that everyone can feel.
“Inmortal” has been a massive hit. It went No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Airplay Chart and has over 120 million views on YouTube. Were you surprised by the fan reaction or did you know that they would be excited because they’d been waiting so long for it?
I would say a little bit of both. I think that when people hear Aventura, whether it’s new material or just, like, [a] flashback TBT, it always has some good reaction. Most reactions are great. I knew people were going to enjoy seeing us together again and I just felt like… this was the moment to do it.
Are there any plans to reunite with them again for another song, album or performance?
I don’t know. I’ve always believed in the element of surprise, so they’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.
But it’s possible?
You’ve had a hugely successful career as a solo artist. What’s something you’ve learned about yourself during this journey?
That’s a great question. I’ve learned that I am far more competitive than I thought I was. I like just reinventing myself and making sure that people can appreciate and perceive the evolution, how I continue to grow and just give 100 percent. I’m never, like, the type to just work on a song or an album and just be like, “Eh.” At least my objective. I’m not always going to succeed at it, but my objective is always to make it better.
Last year, you once again teamed up with Ozuna on “Ibiza.” How would you describe him as an artist? This year, he made Time’s 100 Most Influential People list. What is it like to see this young artist succeed like that?
It’s super cool. He’s a really cool cat. We have this great chemistry. I remember back then I would always say, “I don’t like repeating.” I like to continue to give people different collaborations. But it’s interesting because with Ozuna I’m already at my third. [laughs] I’ve done it just because it happens in such an organic way. The songs are very different from one another and I think people enjoy seeing us singing together. So you never know, there might be more songs that we might create together in the future.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
I do, but I’d rather not say any names. I always love people to just be surprised.
J Balvin, Juanes and Marc Anthony have all spoken about the importance of embracing and educating a new Latinx generation. Is that something that resonates with you?
Yeah. I think we should always try to educate people on our culture, our music, everything that makes us Latinos proud to be Latinos. I try to do that in many aspects, so I’m definitely pro that.
I know you’re a dad. What legacy do you hope to leave behind for your kids?
Just, you know, that you can do anything if you’re disciplined [and have] perseverance. And respect your craft. Respect people. Respect that it could feel like you’re having fun, but it’s a job. I just want to set an example for everyone that follows me that we’re not perfect, but we have to try and be a better version of ourselves as time progresses.