I am obsessed with music and Latin American songs have been such a big part of my life.
I am constantly asking for music recommendations, I make a new playlist every month (and one for pretty much every event of my life), and I have to be playing something when I’m doing absolutely anything.
With the help of my family, friends, and music, I have been able to overcome some of my toughest moments.
Music has helped tremendously by serving as a medium through which I can learn and connect with not only my Peruvian culture but my Hispanic culture.
From Salsa pieces my mom uses to teach me how to dance (it’s all about the hips) to music that beautifully educates me about where I come from, I am grateful to have learned so much about myself and those who I care immensely about through song.
The messages of these songs are universal. Music is universal. May these Latin American songs evoke similar feelings from you.
10. El Baile de Los Que Sobran – Los Prisioneros
I don’t remember the exact moment I was introduced to this tune, but every listen reminds me of the Sundays spent at our house eating savory Anticuchos with family friends. Although Latin Rock, “El Baile de Los Que Sobran” sounds similar to some 80’s American rock you may know.
The catchy chorus, “la-la’s”, and resemblance to Green Day should be enough reason for a rock fan to try.
9. Cariñito – Bareto
Written and sung by a Peruvian music group, “Carinito” embodies the cumbia genre perfectly, illustrating the mix between Latin rock and the traditional, Andean-influenced genre Huayno.
To get a glimpse of an extremely popular Peruvian music genre, listen to this!
8. Una Aventura – Grupo Niche
Love, dance, and more love. “Una Aventura” warms my heart with its lyrics on the exciting adventures or “aventuras” one experiences with their first love.
The classical instruments of the drums, trumpets and others create a pleasing experience for the ears, and make it difficult not to dance to. Of these Latin American songs, “Una Aventura” is a great introduction to the massive, wonderful world of Salsa.
7. Pedro Navaja – Ruben Blades & Willie Colon
While at first listen this song may seem innocent with its percussion and brass parts that strongly emulate the American Jazz genre, the lyrics attempt to share an important message. Describing and illustrating a story about street criminals in cities such as New York City, “Pedro Navaja” means to represent dangers faced by countries everywhere.
Ruben Blades ends the song with a bridge repeating the phrase “La vida te da sorpresas, sorpresas te da la vida, ¡ay, Dios!” or “Life gives you surprises, life gives you surprises, oh, God!”. The entire story ultimately spreads a message to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.
6. Robi-Rob’s Boriqua Anthem – C+C Music Factory y El General
The hilarious introduction will have anyone dying of laughter, the first few measures will have your eardrums ringing, and the entire song will have you defenseless against its dance-inducing instrumentals. Its length may seem intimidating, but the entire song jumps from singer to singer, one instrument feature to another, and vibe to vibe in each part.
5. Contigo Perú – Arturo Cavero, Oscar Aviles
Throughout my journey of rejection and acceptance of my identity, this song has never failed to produce in me a great sense of pride.
My love for who I am, who my family is, and where I come from is undeniable, regardless of how I feel at the moment. Our family has blasted this song at gatherings, soccer game watch parties, and in the car, and the words, flowing, come out of us each time as naturally as the beats of our chests.
This song’s effect is not exclusive to Peruvians, however. “Contigo Peru” details the relentless love and loyalty anyone can feel for another. Listen with an open mind and heart to Cavero’s resounding voice, and these feelings will be drawn out of you, too.
4. Fotografía – Juanes y Nelly Furtado
My attachment to “Fotografía” develops solely from a story told by my parents. After some time taken apart while dating, my dad drove hours to see my mom where she lived at the time, pleaded for their reunion, and described his time apart from her with this ballad.
Although now listening to this with them only brings more stories of humorous and sweet moments between them, this song’s descriptions of the tribulations of love are relatable across all languages.
Would it be an exaggeration to say this song is the reason for my existence?
3. Brujeria – El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico
The beauty of traditional salsa instrumental and vocals will captivate anyone.
Undoubtedly fun, this song is perfect for someone trying to get into dancing or listening to Salsa.
2. Azúcar de Caña- Eva Ayllón
Azúcar de Caña was one of those songs I put on every playlist, played every car drive, and played every homework session for months.
Eva’s voice has never failed to entrance me, and her effortless vocals hold my highest admiration.
“Azúcar de Caña” falls under the Peruvian Criollo genre, a type of Peruvian music that blends the country’s influences by the Spaniards and Africans.
1. Enamorada de Estar Aquí – Eva Ayllón
If I were to be asked to pick one song that describes the conglomerate of stories that make up me, this song would be the one. This song is written by a woman with the class and confidence that I aspire to have, but it also musters the feeling of belonging I have chased for forever.
The lyrics “Entre la gente hay muchas ganas, De demostrar un gran cariño, Para el extrano y el amigo” translates to “Among the people there is a lot of desire, to show great affection, for stranger and for friend” may refer to the people of Peru, but I see these words to depict the people I surround myself with.
While I can be grateful for the amazing country I come from, I can also appreciate the community I live in with Eva Ayllón’s beautiful words.
I really am “in love with being here.”
Learn and listen to more Latin American Songs!