El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico is back on the Tropical Albums chart as En Cuarentena debuts at No. 3. It’s the 19th top 10 for the band, extending their own record for the most top 10s on the list among groups.
It’s the act’s first debut on the chart since 2016’s Aquí Estoy Yo, Vol. 1, their collaborative set with Charlie Aponte, arrived on the Sept. 17, 2016-dated list.
“We are extremely happy with the news,” Willie Sotelo, pianist and musical director for the group, tells Billboard. “We are amazed at how strong this project has penetrated in these times with this genre, salsa, which we are so passionate about and can say it continues to gain strength.”
The Tropical Albums chart ranks the most popular tropical albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units comprise album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album.
En Cuarentena starts with 2,000 equivalent album units earned in the in the U.S. in the week ending April 15, according to MRC Data. Most of the set’s initial count, released April 9 via Rimas Entertainment, stems from traditional album sales.
“We started this album in 2019 and with constant trips abroad we couldn’t finish it, many commitments that did not allow us to go to the studio,” Sotelo adds. “When the pandemic arrived, we realized we had time to end it with no haste.”
El Gran Combo has secured a total of 19 top 10s on the tally. With the new win, it extends its top 10 reign as a group since the chart’s creation in 1985. (In fact, El Gran Combo’s Innovation was No. 1 on the first Tropical Albums chart, dated June 29, 1985.) Overall, the group has the fourth-most top 10s, with three solo acts ahead: Gilberto Santa Rosa (33 top 10s), Victor Manuelle (22), Tito Nieves (21).
“This is really important for us,” Sotelo continues. “The top 10s are very respectable in the industry; this is an achievement and a great responsibility which makes us even more dedicated to the project. We are honored and happy.”
The album was preceded by four songs on Tropical Airplay: “El Ron de La Tierra” (No. 21 high, 2017), “Ella Lo Que Quiere Es Combo” (No. 19 peak, 2019), “Hay Que Quererte” (No. 13 peak, Nov. 2019) and “Como del Mundo” (rises 14-13 on current chart).
“The biggest challenge was recording it on our own, so it sounded like we were all together, Sotelo remembers. “There was no other way to do it, so keeping that in mind, the musicians began to imagine that we were on a stage. I would tell them “play freely” and so we did. The end result was very much in tune with our sound and style of the Combo of the 80s. The set includes nine danceable and varied themes, humorous, happy and also romantic themes.”
El Gran Combo first stepped foot on Tropical Albums in 1985 with Innovation, its first No. 1 which ruled for 12 consecutive weeks, their second-longest reign following 16-week champ Y Su Pueblo (starting Dec. 1985)