Carlos Vives Talks New Song with Ricky Martin About 'Magical' City of San Juan, Puerto Rico

"He'll never stop being that sincere, happy, spontaneous person," Vives says about Ricky Martin

A collab between Ricky Martin and Carlos Vives just makes sense.

On Tuesday, the Latino superstars released their collaboration "Canción Bonita," an ode to one of their favorite cities: San Juan, Puerto Rico, the same city where the two crossed paths for the first time in 1987.

"It's a great opportunity to make such a special song with Ricky," Vives, 59, tells PEOPLE. "In 1987, he was finishing up with Menudo and starting his career as a soloist. During that time, we had the opportunity of seeing each other a lot and got to know each other."

"I arrived at a really special moment and since then, we've been friends," the Colombian star adds. "And even though we went on our own paths, we never forgot about each other."

San Juan became a pivotal city for both of their careers. And recently, the singers crossed paths in person at a foundation gala, where Martin's foundation awarded Vives' Tras La Perla foundation with an award.

Carlos Vives and Ricky Martin
Chino Lemus

"Now that we were able to walk its streets for the video, it was such a great reminder of that beauty it gave us and our careers," he says. "We're so grateful for it and we owe it so much for our music and careers. We talk about Miami, L.A., Mexico City, Buenos Aires, but we forget about San Juan."

"San Juan was the genesis for so many of us," he adds. "Being there [on the music video shoot] allowed us to remember all the magical moments we had there. It was so great to be there."

"Canción Bonita" is a perfect mix of Martin's pop feel and Vives' unmistakable tropical sounds. It's also the perfect introduction to a post-pandemic life where listeners can move their hips and dance to the music.

And Vives has nothing but praise for Martin, 49, as he credits the Pausa singer's island for his unmistakable personality.

Carlos Vives
Chino Lemus

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"Behind all the success of Ricky Martin, there will always be that Puerto Rican kid," he says. "He'll never stop being that sincere, happy, spontaneous person. That genuine, charismatic energy. He's the epitome of being Puerto Rican."

As with most stars, the pandemic gave Vives a time to sit back, reflect and spend time with his family in his native Colombia.

"It's such a mixed feeling," he says about the pandemic. "We're privileged to have a place to live, we have a family, there's food, so we've had the chance to spend so much time together. I would always complain because I'd have to grab a plane and leave behind my kids. But while the pandemic brought some difficult things, it allowed me to share sweet moments with my children."

"There's been so many blessings," he adds. "This pandemic has taught me that if we want to make time for something, we can do it. La vida es dura y dura." (Life is hard and long.)

"Canción Bonita" is out now.

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