Karol G’s MetLife Show Was the Crowning of Pop Royalty

DSC03586_Crop1 - Credit: Maria-Juliana Rojas for Rolling Stone
DSC03586_Crop1 - Credit: Maria-Juliana Rojas for Rolling Stone

Even before Karol G took the stage at MetLife Stadium on Friday night, New Jersey was buzzing with bichotas. In the hours leading up to the show, the sold-out, 80,000-person venue quickly filled up with fans dressed as mini Karols, donning pastel wig and sparkling jumpsuits. They packed into their seats, a sea of bright pink stretching out as far as the eye could see.

Though the Colombian superstar has launched back-to-back tours since 2021 (there were her Bichota and Strip Love arena tours in 2021 and 2022), so much excitement has built up around her Mañana Será Bonito album era, which represents a new level of breakthrough fame for the artist. It’s been through her two LPs in this series — Mañana Será Bonito and Mañana Será Bonito: Bichota Season, both released this year — that she’ become one of the biggest commercial forces in Latin music, or as special guest J Balvin put it at the end of the night, “the queen.”

More from Rolling Stone

A seismic roar exploded through the crowd at about 8:30 p.m., when Karol kicked off her set. The concert was guided by a little animated story, fashioned after the cute illustrations from the Mañana Será Bonito artwork and blared over the projectors in the venue. The cartoon, narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman, followed the adventures of a mermaid named Carolina (Karol’s real name) trying to find joy. Karol burst onstage and started the first part of the concert with some of her biggest hits: Her recent Shakira-assisted smash “TQG,” her 2018 earworm “Mi Cama,” and her Nicki Minaj blockbuster collaboration, “Tusa,” which got the entire stadium screaming to every lyric.

After another cartoon segment, this one showing how Carolina the mermaid unlocked a new level of strength within herself, Karol was back with a vengeance, bad bitch-mode activated. She jumped into the songs from her recent record Mañana Será Bonito: Bichota Season, turning the energy up for trap-fused anthems like “Bichota G” and “Oki Doki.” At one point, Puerto Rican up-and-comer Dei V hopped out for “Gatita,” a song she’d requested her fans learn to sing with her at every show. She closed out the section with a blast of Brazilian energy for “Ta OK,” moving into a slower, ballad-driven part of the program.

Karol came back out in a giant cloud with a piano built into it and put the vocal smoothness that made her a star on display. She went into lovey-dovey romantic fare, like “Ocean” and “Pero Tu,” before diving into ““Mi Ex Tenía Razón.” The recent single, which hit number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, has been everywhere this summer, and it’s endlessly indebted to the spirit of Selena Quintanilla.

For the last third of the performance, Karol G revisited the early songs on Mañana Será Bonito, playing into the sweetness of tracks like “Mientras Me Curo Del Cora.” Eventually, she got to the rock-driven magic of “Tus Gafitas,” which is rumored to be about her new boyfriend Feid. The audience had been given bracelets that flashed with colored lights all night; for this track, they turned bright green, the color that Feid always wears in his music videos and in his shows. Meanwhile, Karol’s all-girl band used the opportunity to fully rock out.

For the grand finale, Karol broke into a speech about how grateful she was to one particular artist from Colombia who she’d watched from the wings as a kid, and who ultimately inspired her to pursue her own dreams. Then J Balvin came out as a surprise guest and joined her for what basically turned into a mini concert that included his biggest career moments, “X,” “Ginza,” and “Mi Gente,” among them. “A round of applause for the queen!” he shouted to the crowd once he was done.

Karol took a little time for some of the Mexican-inspired songs she’s made throughout her career, donning a sparkly sombrero for “Mamiii” and “200 Copas” while also taking a shot of tequila. The emotions began to hit her as the show wrapped up: She looked out into the audience in tears and tried to thank them for their support while crying: “You guys, listening to my music, listening to these songs, are all part of my achievements,” she said, getting choked up. Those true fans, who have been there since Karol was a local singer in Medellin, understood the magnitude of her MetLife moment. It was proof of how global Karol has become, and how far her carer has taken her.

Her electro-banger “Provenza” closed out the night, ending things with blasts of fire, neon glitter, and glowing lights. Fans screamed along, giving Karol a triumphant standing ovation, all of it fanfare fit for pop royalty.

Best of Rolling Stone

Click here to read the full article.