13 Classic Hispanic Songs You Should Know To Feel Native
Classic Hispanic music brings rhythm, passionate lyrics, and unique sounds to any occasion. Hispanic bands, solo artists, and composers are famous for creating some of the best latin songs of all time. Their contribution honors Hispanic legacy and the melting pot of cultures from Latin America.
Revisit this interesting article to learn more about the difference between Hispanic and Latino.
Listening to old Spanish songs everyone knows is a fantastic and fun way to get familiarized with Spanish pronunciation and listening. Keep reading for a taste of Latin American music as a celebration of the Spanish language.
13 Classic Hispanics Songs You Should Know To Feel Native
Accompany on a trip back in time to revisit some of the best Classic Hispanic music you should know to take your Spanish game to the next level.
1. La bamba
- Performed and written by Ritchie Valens
- Released in 1957
La Bamba is a fantastic representative of classic Hispanic music. It has traveled the word and it even inspired a feature film based on its singer’s life story.
Originally a Mexican folk song, young Mexican American Ritchie Valens rewrote La Bamba in the late 1950s. The song broke barriers as it acquired immense popularity among pop and rock and roll enthusiasts in the United States.
La Bamba is part of Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. The song comes originally from Veracruz and has been reinterpreted multiple times by newer artists.
The phrase “para bailar la bamba se necesita una poca de gracia” (to dance la bamba, you need a bit of grace) is easily recognized during Hispanic festivities and is sure to get friends and families to move on the dancefloor. The song inspired a film based on the life of Ritchie Valens.
2. Rayando el sol
- Performed by Maná
- Written by Fher Olvera and Alex González
- Released in 1990
Rayando el sol (Streaking the sun) is Mexican rock band Maná’s first single. It’s part of the most-known collection of songs from their first album Falta amor (Lack of love). The album made its way to the charts of Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums and Top Latin Album of 1992.
The song is a classic Hispanic music anthem of love and nostalgia. It has beautiful lyrics and relates to those who’ve experienced heartbreak. Rayando el sol kicked off Maná’s career when they were struggling musicians in Mexico City. It gained the band popularity all over Mexico and in the rest of Latin America and Spain.
Maná is still considered one of the top bands in México, they fill up concert halls and stadiums around the world.
3. Bidi bidi bom bom
- Performed by Selena y Los Dinos
- Written by Selena Quintanilla and Pete Astudillo
- Released in 1994
Selena Quintanilla is considered the Queen of Tejano tunes and is responsible for some of the best classic Hispanic music.
The song Bidi bidi bom bom was released in 1994 as a part of Selena’s fourth studio album Amor Prohibido. The catchy tune talks about the sound your heart makes when it skips a beat because you’re in love. She co-wrote this song during rehearsals with her band Los Dinos and made its way to number 1 in Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks of 1994.
Selena was a groundbreaking performer who skyrocketed to stardom in the early 1990s. Her contributions to Latin American music earned her a Grammy and multiple accolades. She had a promising future ahead, but her life ended tragically and way too early. Her life story inspired a movie and Netflix series, where you can hear bidi bidi bom bom playing consistently as one of her greatest hits ever.
4. Estoy aquí
- Performed by Shakira
- Written by Shakira and Luis Fernando Ochoa
- Released in 1995
Shakira is a Colombian singer and songwriter well known for her amazing dance moves and remarkable performances in the 2014 World Cup and 2020 Super Bowl Half Time Show. However, very few people are familiar with Shakira’s humble beginnings and her first and possibly best album Pies descalzos (Barefoot).
Shakira released her first record in 1995 and along with it, her first single, Estoy aquí (I’m here). The latin pop song is a hymn of a failed relationship. It has emotional lyrics and prominent guitar melodies played by Shakira herself. At the moment of its release, the song topped weekly pop charts in Bolivia, Argentina, and the United States.
5. Las flores
- Performed by Café Tacvba
- Written by Emmanuel del Real
- Released in 1994
Café Tacvba is considered one of the top Latin American rock bands of the Spanish speaking world. The natives from Mexico City are highly recognized for their genius musical compositions that combine Mexican banda, folk, jazz, ska, and rock. Las flores (The flowers) is Cafe Tacvba’s fourth single from their first studio album, Re.
Las flores, along with the band’s other singles, brought them international spotlight in the early 1990s. To this day, Re is considered one of the top Hispanic rock albums of all time. As soon as they released Las flores, it became a favorite among classic Hispanic music lovers. The song’s upbeat tune is a passionate love song with poetic lyrics. It’s a perfect melody for those who are deeply in love.
6. Bésame mucho
- Performed and written by Consuelo Velasquez
- Released in 1940
Bésame mucho (Kiss me a lot) is one of the most acclaimed Mexican love songs in history. It was written and performed by bolero singer and songwriter Consuelo Velasquez. The song’s intimate romantic lyrics come from the writer’s heart and highlight profound affective emotions.
Bésame mucho is considered an essential classic Hispanic music. It has inspired multiple covers from well-known artists such as The Beatles, Luis Miguel, Michale Bublé, and Il Divo. The song is part of multiple motion picture soundtracks. It also inspired a Mexican musical theater show.
7. La bilirrubina
- Performed and written by Juan Luis Guerra
- Released in 1990
Juan Luis Guerra is a Dominican bachata, merengue, and tropical music performer and songwriter. His classic song, La bilirrubina (Bilirubin) is a favorite for Hispanic weddings and parties. The happening tunes and catchy lyrics get any party started.
The song is part of his 1990 Grammy winning studio album Bachata rosa. Juan Luis Guerra has positioned bachata music all around the world. His Latin rhythm contributed to UNESCO’s declaration of bachata music as intangible cultural heritage in 2019, something inimaginable and groundbreaking for the talented performer.
8. La vida es un carnaval
- Performed by Celia Cruz
- Written by Victor Daniel
- Released in 1998
La vida es un carnaval (Life is a carnival) is a salsa song by Cuban performer Celia Cruz. The song carries a message of positivity and resilience. Its message highlights that life is a carnival and singing your worries away is the norm.
People around the world widely praise the song as a part of the best classic Hispanic music of all time. It won Tropical Song of the Year in 2003 at the Univision Lo Nuestro Awards.
Celia Cruz already had international stardom when she released the song, but the hit lifted her fame even more. The song has been a part of Billboard charts since 2001 and is considered one of the best Latin dance songs of all time.
Celia Cruz passed away in 2003 but her legacy still remains and is valued by millions of her fans.
9. Ahora te puedes marchar
- Performed by Luis Miguel
- Written by Ivor Raymonde, Mike Hawker, and Luis Gómez Escolar
- Released in 1988
Ahora te puedes marchar (Now you can leave) is a song by Mexican pop singer Luis Miguel. The song’s success landed it on number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks for three straight weeks in 1987. Luis Miguel became an overnight pop sensation and the first 17 year old to have a top hit.
The chorus’ infamous and honest phrase “Si no supiste amar, ahora te puedes marchar” (“If you didn’t know how to love, now you can leave”) made it a song for anyone who’s left a toxic relationship to relate. Luis Miguel’s career followed decades of hits on the charts, awards, and inspired a high rating Netflix series.
- Performed and written by Juan Gabriel
- Released in 1984
Mexican artist Juan Gabriel became the most popular performer in Mexico with his song Querida (Dear) in 1984. His first album Recuerdos II (Memories 2) sold over 15 million copies, most of them in Mexico. The song kept a place on the top of the Mexican charts for 18 months.
Querida is at the top of classic Hispanic music worth honoring. Querida’s composition and orchestra arrangements make it an unforgettable and profound song. What is more, Juan Gabriel had a beautiful voice, strong stage presence and could put on a fantastic show like no one else.
Querida and his other hits are a valuable contribution to new generations of Latin American artists. Juan Gabriel passed away in 2016 and is still considered the best solo Mexican performer who’s ever lived.
11. Oye cómo va
- Performed and written by Tito Puente
- Released in 1963
Oye como va (Hey, how’s it going) is one of those classic hispanic songs everyone knows. The mambo tune written by the Puerto Rican American earned him the title of The King of Latin Music. The rhythm and cha-cha beat of the song gets everybody dancing.
The song acquired major popularity in 1970 thanks to a collaboration between Tito Puente and acclaimed guitarist Carlos Santana. The song made it to Billboard charts and from there took off worldwide. Tito Puente represents the best of classic Hispanic music and has inspired over 15 different cover versions of the song from well-known artists like Julio Iglesias, Natalie Cole, and Celia Cruz.
12. ¿Cómo te voy a olvidar?
- Performed by Los Ángeles Azules
- Written by Elías Mejía
- Released in 1996
Los Angeles Azules is a Mexican cumbia band from Iztapalapa, Mexico City. The band was founded in 1983 by 4 out of 8 of the Mejía siblings. As the band started to grow over the years, the rest of the family joined in.
Their deep, romantic, and emotional song Como te voy a olvidar (How can I forget you) is incredibly memorable and has been heard even in large music festivals like Coachella.
The band has found a way of reinventing classic Hispanic music through collaborations with well-known artists of different genres in stadium concerts.
If you ever find yourself in a Hispanic wedding, I guarantee this song will be on the playlist.
13. La perfidia
- Performed by Los Panchos
- Written by Alberto Dominguez Borrás
- Released in 1939
La perfidia (Perfidy) is a classic Mexican bolero written by Alberto Dominguez from San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico in 1939. The song evokes a story of love and disappointment. It’s a lovely composition with poetic lyrics.
The 1940s Mexican Puerto Rico trio, Los Panchos has a cover version that captivated Spanish speaking audiences around the world. The song also has multiple versions in several languages. It’s even part of the motion picture soundtrack of Casablanca. La perfidia truly represents high quality classic Hispanic music that endures decades.
Keep celebrating Hispanic heritage month with this list of 11 Hispanic culture books you need to read.
Sing Your Favorite Spanish Songs
I hope you enjoyed this curated list of classic Hispanic songs. Prepare your playlist and start listening to the best melodies and lyrics that celebrate Hispanic music and culture.
Listening to Spanish consistently is essential for creative, amusing, and practical reinforcement, but talking to a native speaker will take you even further. Sign up for a free class with our certified teachers from Guatemala. They can’t wait to help you become fluent and will teach you more about Hispanic music and culture. You’ll be amazed how after one class you’ll be singing in Spanish intuitively.
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