Opinion

We Should've Stopped Drake Bell When He Rebranded Himself as a Latin Artist

Actor and musician Drake Bell is accused of sexual misconduct. We do know for sure he committed musical crimes.
Actor and musician Drake Bell is accused of sexual misconduct. We do know for sure he committed musical crimes. Rob Kim/Getty
Drake Bell, former teen star on Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh, was sentenced this Monday to two years probation after pleading guilty to charges of child endangerment. There's a long list of accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse against Bell, but let us also not forget his lesser crimes against music.

The sexual misconduct charges against Bell came from a girl he met online, who said Bell began grooming her was she was 12 years old. She also accused him of sending explicit photos of his genitals, and said they began having in-person sexual contact when she was 15.

Bell pleaded guilty to the charges, though his attorney Ian Friedman denied most of the allegations, including the explicit photos and any sexual contact between Bell and his accuser. During Bell’s sentencing in a courtroom in Cleveland, Judge Timothy McCormick said: "Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship ... You were able to gain access to this child. You were able to gain the trust of this child. I hope you truly are remorseful. I don’t know.”

On Drake and Josh, Bell played Drake, and actor Josh Peck played his step-brother Josh. The cast also included future iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove.


Bell continued acting after the show ended in 2007 but focused primarily on his music and released five studio albums. Yet he made headlines most memorably for publicly calling out his former costar Peck for not inviting Bell to his wedding in 2018.

At the time, Bell tweeted: "When you’re not invited to the wedding the message is clear. Loyalty is key. ALWAYS remember where you came from. True colors have come out today. Message is loud and clear. Ties are officially cut. I’ll miss you brotha.”

But the pair, who had worked together since starring on the network's The Amanda Show, seemed to patch things up publicly.

And boy, does Peck probably wish he’d left the hatchet unburied.

Before Bell's sexual misconduct accusations, the actor’s ex-girlfriend, Melissa Lingafelt, accused him of verbally and physically abusing her, and in 2020, accused him of seeking out underage girls, all of which he also denied.

Lingafelt recently posted on TikTok a video of the Google search results of Bell’s misconduct headlines with the caption: "gonn’ act like I didn’t tell you guys. Too bad him having a kid to clean up his image aint work."

But seriously, we should’ve stopped Drake Bell when he became a “Latin” artist.

Among all the dirty laundry list of accusations against Bell, this "crime" is by far the least offensive, but it still reeks of ... Well, it just reeks.

Two years ago, Bell changed his name to Drake "Campana,” Spanish for “bell,” moved to Mexico (though many of his Tweets time-stamped him in California) and rebranded himself as a Latin musician.

"Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship ... You were able to gain access to this child. You were able to gain the trust of this child. I hope you truly are remorseful. I don’t know.” –Judge Timothy McCormick

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Since then, he's released songs including “Diosa,” ("Goddess") and “Fuego Lento,” ("Slow Fire"), which were hardly Spanish at all. In fact, they were the LaCroix drink in a savory fountain of Latin music with hardly any detectable Spanish flavor.

Some of Bell's tracks, we begrudgingly admit, are undeniably catchy, mostly through their blatant marketed-for-Latin-America production. Bell tries really hard to home in the authentic sound of commercial friendliness, but hey, it works well for Olivia Rodrigo.

Armed with some subpar music sprinkled with an occasional Spanish verse, Bell was committed to start over in Mexico with the determination of Andy Dufresne making his way to Zihuatanejo. His social media posts are now written entirely in (broken) Spanish, and a Mexican flag emoji flies high next to the blue “verified” badge on Bell's (sorry, Campana's) Twitter handle.

In 2019, he shared what appears as an official Mexican government ID with the name “Drake Campana.”

All we can say to this güey is "No mames."

Bell's makeover as a Latin musician is not necessarily cultural appropriation; although he's practically, just barely, falling short of wearing a sombrero, he isn’t claiming to be something he isn’t nor taking credit for any other individual or group's work. And, ultimately, if his fans have a taste for Spanglish music that’s less Span than Glish, let them shower in LaCroix.

But Bell's full immersion into Mexican culture certainly feels, at the very least, opportunistic. At the time, Twitter had a bit of a chuckle (as it always does) at Bell’s, um, Campana’s expense, and speculated that he moved to Mexico as a persona non grata in the U.S. following his ex’s accusations.

It certainly appeared like a guilty move out of Shawshank Redemption. Bell said he was just following his base, and that he's simply had better success with Latin American markets. He did not make the move to Mexico for its complex laws regarding the age of consent.
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Eva Raggio is the Dallas Observer's music and arts editor, a job she took after several years of writing about local culture and music for the paper. Eva supports the arts by rarely asking to be put on "the list" and always replies to emails, unless the word "pimp" makes up part of the artist's name.
Contact: Eva Raggio