This month, KCSBfm is celebrating the wide-reaching impact of Hispanic culture. For this month’s playlist, members of KCSBfm’s Executive Committee highlight the breadth of Hispanic culture’s contribution to music by choosing their favorite songs from a myriad of culturally-influenced genres.
Hispanic punk/emo/skramz – Justin
Genre background The history of Latinx punk is excellently summarized in an episode of Pop Americana (courtesy of Al Jazeera). Below are a few hardcore jams on the twinklier side that I personally enjoy, but you should watch that video if you want some history on Latinx hardcore and DIY; they explain things better than I possibly could within the confines of these short blurbs.
Fiesta Bizarra – Bug de Sueños
Peruvian 5-piece math rock/screamo is a rare distinction. A song being this groovy and melodic without any chorus is also pretty rare. The track is tagged as “bossanova” on the band’s Bandcamp, which I don’t personally detect but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt given how intricate this song is.
mis sueños son de tu adiós – vos y yo y el cpu
Mis sueños son de tu adiós is “hardcore for nerds & queer kids”; the solo-project of Enzo Raffler, an incredibly valuable contributor to DIY music based in Argentina. I actually first discovered them not through their music but through their YouTube channel, which is a treasure trove of rare indie and hardcore from South America and around the world. If you listen close enough, the influence of thousands of hours of obscure skramz ripped from Soulseek will ring loud and clear by the end of this track’s 44 second runtime.
Modern latin R&B – Jack
Girl Ultra – Morena Mía
Girl Ultra is a very talented artist from Mexico City who excels in the alternative R&B scene. Being fortunate enough to see her live in concert, I have grown to listen to her more and more, and her songs are definitely R&B leaning, but have some roca influence as well, making her music exciting every time you give it a listen. She has even been fortunate enough to work with bigger names in latin R&B you may be familiar with, such as Cuco, further solidifying the fact that she is definitely an artist to add to our HHM playlist. Oh, and you should definitely add her to yours too.
María Isabel – atrapada en el cielo
María Isabel, a Dominican artist I know and love, represents the side of modern latin/hispanic R&B that leans into more heartfelt songs. This song, as well as songs like “No Soy Para Ti” discuss her past relationships and heartbreak that has shaped her to be who she is today. With such a beautifully soft voice it is hard not to be entranced by her voice as she sings about love, drawing you further into her music. With a mix of songs in English, Spanish, and Spanglish, I highly recommend listening through her discography if you are a fan of any kind of R&B.
Cumbia – Alex
The Tiarras – Soy Chingona
Formerly known as the Tiarra Girls, The Tiarras bring an amazing and super smooth cumbia track with Soy Chingona, a cumbia anthem that proves to be both empowering and emotional. The group is an amazing Latina band that’s definitely on the come up right now. This trio’s vocals are always on point with amazing lyrics in both English and Spanish that cement the Mexican-American sisters as a musical force to be reckoned with.
Flaco el Jandro – Nadie
Flaco el Jandro brings a rock-like twist to cumbia with his amazing vocals and traditional instrumentation, all of which make you feel like you’re in the middle of a giant party. My personal favorite part of this track is definitely the instrumentals, with the accordion solo and harmonies coming in the second half serving as an amazing climax to the track.
Los Krillos – La Cumbia de Los Grillos
Los Krillos bring a traditional cumbia focused on making you dance with an infectious rhythm and plucking solos. As one of the more traditionally-focused tracks, this one is here to please las abuelitas y todo la familia 😉
Qiensave – Quemayama
Definitely one of the more emotionally-charged and longing tracks of this group, Quemaya by Qiensave is an amazingly crafted and long-form cumbia song that can keep a party going for a long time. It definitely takes more of a vocal focus than some of the other tracks, but belting along to Qiensave is definitely a great way to release some steam.
Chicha – Aidan
Los Destellos – Elsa
Los Destellos was one of the original Peruvian bands that fused the sounds of psychedelic sounding electric guitars and basses with the framework of Cumbia popular in South America at the time. The resulting genre is called Chicha, and has some of the most catchy and danceable tunes of any genre I’ve heard, let alone one that had its heyday before the invention of the drum machine. Elsa, Los Destellos best known song, is chief amongst those catchy tunes – I’m sure you’ll be singing along by the second chorus.
Chicha Libre – Danza Del Milonario
This is another very catchy Chica song. It’s actually much more modern than a lot of Chicha; Chicha Libre is actually a Chicha-revivalist band from Brooklyn, inspired by the work of the Peruvian originals. The modern production elements, especially on the vocals, add a nice edge to it as well.
Los Titanes del Peru – La Florcita
Son Cubano – Aidan
Arsenio Rodriguez y su Conjunto – Hipocresía
Mayohuacan – Solamente una Ventana
Benny More – Que Bueno Baila Usted
Mexican rock – Marion
Cafe Tacvba – El Outsider (MTV Unplugged ft. David Byrne)
This song features a really interesting collaboration between one of Latin America’s most well-known rock bands and the genius behind the Talking Heads, David Byrne. I love the playful bassline in this one as well as the socially subversive lyrics. My favorite part of the song is when David Byrne starts singing in Spanish.
Los Yetis – Llegaron Los Peluqueros
“The motherland is in danger, the decorum of the motherland is in danger. I don’t have a motherland, I don’t have anything.” These are some of the most politically charged lyrics I’ve ever heard, and this is certainly one of the most radical songs to come out of the psychedelic rock scene in 1960s Mexico.
La Revolucion De Emiliano Zapata – Nasty Sexo
I first heard this song while on the hunt for obscure vinyl in the record stores of Mexico City’s hippest neighborhood- la Roma. I love this song especially because most of the songs this band went on to record are boleros and mariachi songs, a completely different sound to this song. Additionally, I have not been able to find the original album this song was released on, which I bought in vinyl form, anywhere on the internet.
Argentinian Rock – Marion
Babasonicos – Irresponsables
This one holds a special place in my heart because my dad used to play this in the car when I was young. It features a really tasteful organ, a super catchy guitar solo, and a melody that will stay in your head for days. The Babasonicos are one of my favorite Argentinian rock artists, and their album “Infame” is one that I’ve kept coming back to throughout my life.
Soda Stereo – Terapia De Amor Intensiva
I’ve touched on this on my radio show before, but for some reason, hispanic bands seem to be at their best during MTV Unplugged sets- Soda Stereo is no exception to this! This really long MTV Unplugged set does not contain a single dull moment. My favorite song of the set is “Terapia De Amor Intensiva,” with really clever lyrics, and another melody that is sure to get stuck in your head.
Sumo – Los Viejos Vinagres
This funky tune, featuring a horn section, an 80s feel, lyrics that pack a mean punch, comes from legendary new wave Argentinian band, Sumo. I love this one because it is certainly very different from what I imagine the average person would call Hispanic music.
Latin jazz – Aidan
Alfredo Linares – Friends
Mongo Santamaria – Fingers
Roberto Sion – Chorino pro fiske Place Irakere
Salsa – Alex
Willie Rosario – La Mitad
La Mitad is a traditional salsa song that definitely packs a punch in both its instrumentation and vocals. Willie Rosario brings everything he’s got onto this album, which is definitely reflected in the quality of this track. Definitely one of those songs you just wanna dance the night away to.
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico – Tu Mirada
Gotta throw you back to 1989 with Tu Mirada from El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. That classic late 80s salsa style is instantly recognizable and timeless, with the 13-piece salsa group continuing to drop hit after hit with their horn-driven grooves and smooth vocal solos and harmonies. Despite being a somewhat slower salsa song, this track is definitely one you’ll want to get up and break a sweat to.
Bachata – Alex
Prophex – Pica Pica
Some traditional bachata with that classic dominican syncopated style is guaranteed to always get a whole room of people on their feet, and Prophex brings this with a modern twist in Pica Pica. A super catchy and almost trap-like vocal style with autotune and adlibs combined with the super intricate, plucked guitar solos make for a captivating bachata song.
Andrw John – Porque Tengo Ganas
A more laid back bachata track that you can definitely dance some bachata sensual, Andrw John sets the vibe just right with emotional but relaxed vocals. The solo picking sections also provide a lot of room for showing off some bachata dance moves, or just feeling the emotions in the music.
Leslie Grace – Bachatica
This track is definitely my favorite of the bunch, with Leslie Grace bringing her sauve bachatera voice and mixing the production of a modern R&B song into a traditional bachata song. Bachatica gives off that sensual, ethereal, and passionate vibe that is always needed in a bachata playlist.
Merengue – Alex
La Banda Gorda – Loco Con las Mujeres
This La Banda Gorda is a traditional Dominican group led by trumpeter José Virgilio Peña Suazo and definitely brings that traditional merengue feel you know and love. The instrumental and the vocals are both on point on this one, with the horns especially bringing in that hyped-up vibe ready for any party.
158.Teddy – Yo Quiero Dinero
Similar to Pica Pica in blending more modern vocal styles with traditional genres, Sentimientos Erronèos bring an amazing hyped up vibe with their fast-paced singing and rapping over a super charged merengue beat. The song’s main message “yo quiero dinero” (I want money) is also sure to resonate with a whole crowd of people.
Los Hermanos Rosario – Ay, Qué Soledad
A more solemn merengue track that lets you belt your feelings out is what everyone needs, and siblings Rafa, Luis, and Tony Rosario and their 14-piece merengue band definitely bring that in Ay, Qué Soledad. The super intricate and highly polyphonic band gives you plenty of options to switch up your merengue steps on the syncopation, and long instrumental breaks definitely set the vibe just right for an electric social dance session.
Hispanic pop – Marley
Ed Maverick – Dias azules
Ely Guerra – El Mar
Hispanic/American Indie rock – Marley
Niños del cerro – Contigo
As soon as this song starts, I immediately feel nostalgic and I remember just how much I love this song. This song was shown to me by a friend I used to have, and at the time, I was surprised to be recommended a Spanish song. But I instantly loved it and played it on repeat and even my parents would bob their head to the beat.
Planeta No – Sol a Sol
For this song, I went back to my middle school spanish indie rock playlists and pulled this track from that personal time capsule. Planeta no is a Chilean trio and this is just a fun upbeat track that I still enjoy years later.
Reggaeton – Jack
Don Omar, Héctor “El Father,” Daddy Yankee – La Noche Esta Buena
For reggaeton, I had to go with the OG reggaeton first, picking a song by the legendary Don Omar, featuring the “King of Reggaeton” himself, Daddy Yankee. Although Don’s song “Dile” was bigger and more influential to me, I wanted to include a song from the same album that had features that further represent the roots of reggaeton. As is consistent through just about all of reggaeton, this song features the rhythm that takes influence from Jamaica called dem bow riddim. It is a drum loop that usually consists of a kick drum, kickdown drum, palito, snare drum, timbal, timballroll and (sometimes) a high-hat cymbal. Reggaeton is a very fun, danceable genre that has evolved a lot over the years, but has roots in Puerto Rico and was influenced by Reggae en Español in Panama, Hip Hop, Dancehall, Bomba and Plena.
Ozuna, Nicky Jam – Haciéndolo
Jumping further into the future of reggaeton, we have a song by my personal favorite reggaeton artist, Ozuna, featuring yet another reggaeton icon, Nicky Jam. Coming from Puerto Rico, Ozuna has produced hit after hit and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Just like the OG reggaeton, the modern day reggaeton features the same dem bow riddim, and is also sung in a style very reminiscent of rapping. As reggaeton has evolved more and more, climbing music charts across the world left and right, it has taken some more influence from pop, making it very easy for everyone to have fun with.
Mexican Rap – Marion
Molotov – Gimme Tha Power
Molotov is a rap-metal band formed in Mexico City in 1995. Their lyrics are highly political, dealing with the struggles of violence and poverty in Mexico- this song is a perfect example of these themes which can be found in their music.
Plastilina Mosh – Niño Bomba Tampico Mix
This is one of the grooviest and smoothest songs I’ve ever heard. I love to play this one at the beach or when cooking with friends. It always gets everyone’s head bopping and feeling good.
Mariachi – Marion
Vicente Fernandez – El Rey
Vicente “Chente” Fernandez, who sadly recently passed away in 2021, is perhaps the most famous Mexican ranchera and mariachi singer to ever live. He is also known as “La Voz De México,” or “The Voice of Mexico,” he has become a symbol of “Mexicanidad,” or Mexican pride. This is one of the most famous songs that he sings. I love that the lyrics of this one feel very satirical but also have a pang of truth to them.
Boleros – Marion
Los Panchos – Piel Canela
One of my favorite love songs ever. Though the lyrics lose a lot of their beauty and eloquence when translated, I find the first verse of this song to be one of the sweetest and most beautiful I’ve ever heard.
Celia Cruz – Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
Another one of my favorite hispanic artists- Celia Cruz. Her songs range widely in genres, from boleros, to salsa, bachata, son, and guaracha. This song is one of my favorites because her voice has such a tasteful, yet sly tone to it.
Norteño – Marley
Bronco – Botas y Sombrero
Los Tigres del Norte – Un Dia a la Vez
A couple of years ago, my parents made me a playlist and this is one of the songs that was on it. Los Tigres del Norte are one of the most iconic norteño groups and I think it’s only right to shine a light on them. They’re a group that will always make me think of my parents and the songs they played years and years ago.