Turn up this hot South Texas band’s collaboration with Bad Bunny to get your Tejano on.
It’s hard to square the idea of cowboys on stage at Coachella, the indie rock festival that boasts the biggest names in popular music. But there they are in YouTube videos, six guys in cowboy hats, jeans, and boots, on stage playing a cumbia with Bad Bunny.
The story of how Grupo Frontera, a Tejano band from South Texas, caught the attention of the Puerto Rican rapper, producer, and global sensation Bad Bunny and went on to record a song together that rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200, and to make a music video that has amassed almost 150 million views in just a few weeks, isn’t your typical country music tale.
Not long ago, Grupo Frontera was a local band playing traditional ranchera music, with guitars and an accordion, at parties around their hometown of Edinburg, Texas. They liked to play covers of the Mexican-style country music they grew up with. But with their distinctive, smooth style, Grupo Frontera outgrew party gigs and soon began recording with top Tejano talent.
The group has since become a catalyst for a movement of northern Mexican regional music that is sweeping Latin charts and, now, mainstream music.
“I really love Grupo Frontera because I think they have a lot of feelings in their songs,” said Bad Bunny (the stage name for Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. “This authentic music made by young people, that’s what I love. They have the authentic sound, the essence, but with a new color, a new sound. It’s fresh. It’s totally different.”
When songwriter and producer Edgar Barrera discovered Grupo Frontera in his hometown of McAllen, Texas, they were playing for the opening of a tire shop, he told Variety. At the time, the band couldn’t have envisioned playing Coachella. What they aspired to, they told Barrera, was to work with Mexican ranchero artist Carin Leon. Barrera made it happen, and the collaboration landed the group on the Billboard Hot 100 early this year with the song “Que Vuelvas.”
After that initial success, Barrera told Variety, Grupo Frontera had significant offers from record labels, but the group chose to stick with the Barrera partnership. It would soon pay off.
They recorded “Un x100to,” a love song about a man who uses the final 1 percent of his phone battery life to reach out to a lost love.
“When our grandparents were dating, they would send letters; when our parents were dating, they would make phone calls. Now that we’re in a different era, we send text messages,” percussionist Julián Peña Jr. told the Los Angeles Times.
They planned to make a video for the song and chose a ghost town in Nevada as the location. On the day of the video shoot, producer Barrera told the band he had a surprise.
As they were on set, Barrera suddenly said he wanted to change the song to a new version. As the band grappled with that odd direction, Bad Bunny strolled in. And Grupo Frontera made a video of a version of their song they’d never heard before, with a new verse sung by a major recording star, who was right there dancing next to them.
As Grupo Frontera vocalist Adelaido “Payo” Solis III told podcaster Lowe, he had to focus on making the video, but he couldn’t stop staring at the superstar standing next to him.
“We actually didn’t know we were going to work with him until the day of the video,” Solis said. “We recorded the song without knowing he was going to be on the song.”
As the band told Lowe, if you watch the video closely, you can tell something special is happening: They can’t stop smiling.
Photo by Uriel Landeros, who also painted the mural of Grupo Fronteras behind the band.