Dulce Maria* Anahí * Maite
Christopher * Alfonso * Christian
What would it take for a music group to be justly called a phenomenon? While it might ultimately require a historical look back, consider these facts about the Mexican pop group RBD.
Upon its release in January 2005, RBD's debut album Rebelde initially shipped only 25,000 copies in their home country. Rebelde was such an immediate sensation that when RBD followed with Nuestro Amor eight months later, the new disc shattered the record books by going platinum in just seven hours. Rebelde soon reached diamond sales status, and the group's sold out Mexican tour - which included a six night stand at the capital's 22,500-person Palacio de los Deportes arena - was the country's fastest selling tour that year by a national act. Furthermore, their 2005 albums Rebelde, Nuestro Amor and the live Tour Generación RBD en Vivo took three of the four nominations for Best Pop Album of the Year at the 2006 Billboard Latin Music Awards, with Rebelde winning. Fan fervor quickly spread to South America and led the group to re-record both albums in Portuguese for Brazilian fans. Even in another language, the albums each topped the charts and achieved multi-platinum sales, and RBD will return to Rio de Janeiro in October as the first Spanish act ever to headline Maracanã Stadium, the world's largest, before 120,000 fans. Having already sold two million copies in the States, RBD launched its U.S. tour last March with a 65,000-person show at the L.A. Coliseum, selling out the stadium in 30 minutes and becoming the venue's second highest-grossing concert ever (trailing only the Rolling Stones). The group sold out every show on its inaugural U.S. outing, from New York's Madison Square Garden to Miami's American Airlines Arena, and then returned to the Coliseum to headline a radio festival. Now, less than two years after releasing Rebelde, RBD is set to make its English-language debut with Rebels.
The six young charismatic vocalists that power RBD - Anahí, Dulce Maria, Maite, Christopher, Christian and Alfonso (who goes by the nickname "Poncho") - already created waves with their new bilingual radio hit "Tu Amor," which debuted on L.A.'s KIIS FM after being leaked ahead of its add date. The song was written by none other than Diane Warren, a multiple Grammy- and Academy Award-nominated songwriter who's penned more Billboard hits than the Beatles.
"Tu Amor" is a romantic song that explains to your partner, family or friends how we say 'I love you' in Spanish," says Christian. "The music is so sweet - it's pure pop with a Latin mix. I think it's going to be a classic."
Warren also wrote the album track "I Wanna Be the Rain," about which Maite remarks, "It's beautiful the way it tells your partner that you love him and would do anything to protect him and be near him."
Maite also singles out "El Musical" as a great dance song, while Anahí favors "Want To Play" for its "sexy and Latin" sound. The album even touches on hip-hop with "My Philosophy," which Christopher counts among his favorites. Overall, the album features 11 songs, including five English-language remakes from their previous Spanish hits.
By remaking their songs in other languages, the group came to appreciate the universal nature of human experience. RBD hopes that others see the same and that their music can help break down walls between different cultures.
Maite notes, "On the tour, we noticed that every boy and girl everywhere is the same. We are young people. We will always have hopes, and we will always want to grow up. We might have different languages, different countries and different situations, but we are still the same. We are people with interests and hopes and feelings to be the best."
As far as tackling the English-speaking market, Christopher adds, "It is just a compliment to what we've been doing. We did the same thing in Colombia, in Ecuador, in Venezuela, in Puerto Rico, in Spain... the only thing that changes is the language. That is the amazing part of music, it's a universal language."
Looking back at their recent beginning, RBD arose out of the TV show Rebelde, which featured the sextet as the lead characters. Debuting on Televisa in October 2004, the show followed six students at an elite boarding school in Mexico City who rebelled against their aristocratic classmates by starting a band. Under the guidance of producer Pedro Damián (who previously guided Timbiriche to stardom), the six actors formed RBD as an extension of the show. Like the group itself, Rebelde turned into a television sensation that drew 23 percent of all Mexican households. It became so popular that artists ranging from Lenny Kravitz to Hilary Duff appeared on Rebelde to help promote their own music in the Latin market. The Gorillaz even chose to debut their "Dare" video on Rebelde rather than on MTV Mexico. By the time it wrapped last summer, Rebelde was the country's longest-running telenovela with 440 episodes, which continue to air in the U.S., Asia, Indonesia, and in over a dozen other countries. A feature film and a new spin-off show with the RBD stars are currently in development.
Though RBD is its own entity and does not mirror the show, the group certainly incorporates theatrics, costumes and stage settings into the live act. Given this large platform, RBD is vocal about ecological and environmental concerns as well as demonstrating pride in their Mexican heritage. Fittingly, RBD was asked to record "México, México," a huge radio hit and the official theme song for Mexico's national team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
So far, the band claims three Spanish albums, two Portuguese editions, and two live albums, but RBD notes that Rebels offers something special that the other releases do not. "It is the first album we did with all six of us together," explains Poncho. "We were doing the TV show [during the other recordings], so while one person was acting, the other was singing in the studio. Having us all together really made a difference. We had a lot of fun, and it sparked a vibe, an energy, that got passed onto the record. It is not something that you can see, but it is definitely something you can feel."
Christian adds, "We showed people in Mexico and Latin America that people still like pure pop music, and we hope that America enjoys it, too. It is a good time to show the world that people from Mexico can do good music and make the world sing their songs."
The group is ready to introduce the U.S. to the charismatic charm and pure pop personalities that make RBD a true candidate for pop phenomena status. As the New York Times wrote in a front-page feature, "This is the making of Mexico's first worldwide pop brand."