Spanish Songs Playlist

4:14 PM

From Selena to Los Panchos, here are my picks for all time favorite songs in my native language, Spanish. 

What I adore about the Spanish language is the diversity it holds. Though there is a plenitude of countries that speak it, each country is everything but culturally homogeneous. From Mexico to the Dominican Republic to Argentina- each "Spanish" portrays a distinct national identity. Growing up Chicana (American with Mexican descent), that feeling translated to the music I was raised on. Not only was I shown the songs my parents grew up listening to, but I was exposed to many branches of Hispanic genres. I listened to fellow Chicanos like the classic Selena (she was my childhood idol!), or Los Tigres del Norte. Staple Mexican artists like Vicente Fernandez, Juan Gabriel, or Joan Sebastian were circulated on repeat on Saturday morning by my mom and dad, while I preferred the "bougie" (definition: snobbish, higher class, pretentious) acts Jesse y Joy, La 5a Estacion, and my all time favorite emo band Camila. My younger siblings had their heads in New York, listening to regional cultural music such as Marc Anthony, Chino y Nacho, Prince Royce, and Romeo Santos (think: Dominican, Puerto Rican). And, who could forget the infamous Daddy Yankee? Pitbull? Music in Spanish holds such a plethora of sound, that I never get bored with it. Don't know what I'm talking about? YouTube is your friend- there is a world waiting for you, my friend. Whether you're indie, urban, or retro, there is something for you. As a starting point, I have a parred-down version of my all time favorites.

  1. Te Sigo Amando- Juan Gabriel: I Keep on Loving You. Juan Gabriel, who recently passed away, was a multi-genre, queer singer whose music is considered a modern classic in Mexico. What I like about this song is that it includes Gabriel's signature croon of heartbreak with some mariachi flair. His crying, sustained note at the bridge is something you anticipate throughout the entire song.
  2. Para Siempre- Vicente Fernandez: Forever. Vicente Fernandez is the Drake of mariachi. When I was younger, I always visualized his music as being the type drunk men would sing at the bar after getting dumped. This song, however, is more reassuring. The seductive (that guitar at the introduction is mesmerizing) music promises everlasting love, a refreshing message from Fernandez that makes it one of my favorites.
  3. A Dios Le Pido- Juanes: To God I Ask. Columbian pop artist Juanes was one of the first emerging acts from the turn of the century. His music is more contemporary, granting him more international appeal. A Dios Le Pido is a prolonged prayer asking for strength in his people, life for his family, and a lover for himself. It's upbeat and hopeful. I adore the descending hook.
  4. Amor Prohibido- Selena: Forbidden Love. Need I even explain? Selena Quintanilla was the artist who put Chicano music in the American spotlight. Her charisma was evident from her upbeat jams to her ballads. To me, Amor Prohibido falls more in the happy medium. A sort of Romeo and Juliet-esque tale of lovers caught in different socioeconomic classes, the story the song shows will always be relatable. Topped with her honey voice, and the melody reaches near perfection.
  5. Todo Cambio- Camila: Everything Changed. Camila is one of my favorite Spanish-speaking acts, obviously- I included three of their songs! Their mid-2000s, emo aesthetic is similar to other American acts (P!ATD, Fallout Boy) from the era. Todo Cambio is about a newfound love. Camila's distinct piano keys and lead vocals is equally haunting and uplifting.
  6. De Mi- Camila: Of Me. This is one of Camila's later songs. You can hear their growth from their edgy roots to more free-flowing flutes, guitars, and violins. De Mi implements all three, making the love song another of my preferred ones.
  7. Besame- Camila: Kiss Me. Camila's journey comes into full circle with this song. Going back to electric guitar and piano, while maintaining the epic drama of their detours, Besame is a straightforward, simple message that packs overwhelming emotion.
  8. Creo en Ti- Reik: I Believe in You. Reik is another pop-rock early aughts act. Before delving in, let me clarify: I grew up in a Spanish- speaking household during this time. Thus, it is logical for most of my picks to be of the popular musicians of the era. Anyways. Reik was the darling of telenovela tracks, and Creo en Ti is no exception. The song (recorded in Italian, English, and Portuguese!) is the type that would play during a montage, something that enamored me greatly as a child. It's sweet and youthful.
  9. Eso Y Mas- Joan Sebastian: That and More. Joan Sebastian is another of the greats that passed away recently. Shying away from all those pop acts, Sebastian is more of a parental pick. Personally, I never acquired a deep taste for his music. But, this song is just beautiful. The singular guitar melody and his voice singing of traveling mountains, seas, and valleys to look in his love's eyes is an age-old declaration of romance. Possibly one of my favorite songs of all time, even outside the Spanish realm.
  10. Sabor a Mi- Los Panchos: Taste of Me. While Joan Sebastian was of my parents' time, Los Panchos were of my grandparents'. I cannot emphasize this enough: this is not a classic, but THE classic. Sabor a Mi is a parred-down mariachi tune that has been covered by everyone from Mexican artist Luis Miguel to Kali Uchis to even K-Pop group EXO. It is the foundation, the influence- the grandparent!

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