There’s a story that I love to tell and looked forward to writing about someday. The story is related to the performance art known as dating. So as a preface to a list of the sexiest songs in Spanish, I decided today’s the day.
(If you want to skip the story and go straight to the playlist I made, head to the next page.)
For the rest of you, now the story. It’s a good one, and short.
A number of years ago, newly divorced, I decided to go on Match.com, the dating site.
In what might be the most flattering thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life, someone got so taken by my profile (which didn’t yet have a picture) that he subtly changed his own profile to better “match” mine, adding things like his love of cycling and passion for the English language, which I also had alluded to in my profile.
Other than adding five years to his real age so I wouldn’t consider him too young, he didn’t lie. He only added or emphasized the things we had in common.
To indicate an interest on Match.com without a lot of time invested, you send a person a “wink.” My suitor's unusual strategy of modifying his profile was part of his online dating philosophy, which was never to wink a woman: Make her wink you (and have a great picture, even if it takes 1000 shots to get it.) His idea was to make himself irresistible to me.
Sure enough, I winked him. He was my first and only date from Match.com and we dated for six wild years. I had no recollection of his profile prior to the one with the changes he’d made.
When he confessed the individualized online strategy he’d used, I told him how shocked and creeped-out I was. He countered with a bit of hilarious wisdom that I’ll never forget.
He told me that my sudden response to his revised profile, one that mirrored so many of my own interests, after not having noticed him for months only indicated that I didn’t want to date him. I wanted to date me. In fact, I couldn’t resist me.
How true. How many times, especially after some time together, have you wished your significant other could be more... like you?
It was an obvious yet brilliant insight and a lesson that has come in handy on my nights alone. If we don’t have a choice, at least we should try to be our own best date - since that's kind of what we want anyway.
Since then, my dates with me have usually included carefully-prepared food, wine, and this music (and low lighting, just like on real dates).
This playlist was put together to get you in the mood, should you find yourself on a date with you, especially the sexy, fun you. Of course, if you happen to have a real date, all the better.
Compiling the list, with a few notes about the music, is my way of celebrating the completion of my new book, “If Only I Had a Place,” about renting luxuriously in Mexico. I hope you will like both the book, released on Amazon and the playlist as follows.
Imagine if you’d been in a coma for 30 years and got to hear all the best music from those years for the first time. That is what it was like for me when I started listening to music in Spanish.
This playlist includes some of the most popular songs in Spanish from a variety of countries.
So that you don’t have to take my word for it, I have included the number of YouTube visits each song has received to date, which should give you an indication of their overall huge-ness (and their overall hotness in some cases).
Don’t let the Spanish discourage you from checking this list out. The songs stand on their own. Whether you know the words or not, I think you’ll know a good song when you hear one (After all, 80 million people on YouTube can't be wrong, right?). Don’t resist. Just let the songs soak in.
Anyway, you only need to know one thing about songs in Spanish. They are about just two things: love and dancing.
For those of you who lean toward female singers, I apologize that a majority of the songs are by men (but that’s who I like singing to me).
Tip: Focus on memorizing the Spanish-language classics as a great party trick in Mexico. Imagine someone who only speaks halting English belting out every word to Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road." How could you not be endeared?
Duele El Corazón (My Heart Hurts) by Enrique Iglesias (636,924,451 hits). If you like “Work” by Rihanna ft Drake (874,831,799 hits), this should appeal to you. Needing a little help with Spanish indirect pronouns and reflexive verbs? This is the song for you, as illustrated by the refrain.
Si te vas, yo también me voy (if you go, so do I)
Si me das, yo también te doy (if you give to me, I’ll give to you), Amor
Alternative: The song “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias ft. Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona is another huge hit with (brace yourself) 2,099,203,287 hits on Youtube. Enrique Iglesias adds the rock and Gente de Zona the reggaeton beat.
La Celula Que Explota (The Cell Explodes) by Caifanes (33,375,925 hits) is a Mexican band (1987) that probably comes in second only to Maná in popularity in Mexico. If you like the operatic voice of Roy Orbison, you will appreciate the paralyzing vocals of Saúl Hernández in this song.
Ahí Estás Tu - (You're There) Remember slow-dancing to Sade? A Spanish friend with much more sophisticated taste turned me onto Chambao, a band that carries a Flamenco-electronic sound (called “Flamenco-chill”) led by Maria del Mar Rodrieguez Carmero. If your tastes run toward female vocalists, you should also try the popular band La Oreja De Van Gogh, also from Spain, and the song “Rosas.”
Amores Lejanos (Distant Lovers) (31,728,618 hits) by Emanitos Verdes is by another late 80’s band, this one from Argentina. Along with the song “Amores Lejanos,” you should also give a listen to the song “Guitarras Blancas”, a party song with the refrain (roughly translated, “Please, just let us dance!”) If you plug the song into Pandora, you will get the fun live version, with the whole stadium singing, as is the custom at concerts in Latin America. Think maybe The Police?
De Música Ligera (About Light Music) by Soda Stereo (101,940,989 hits) is a solidly alternative band (1990) and this song is considered a hymn of Latin rock. The way people in Mexico still listen to Soda Stereo, you’d think the band was new, when actually the lead singer, Gustavo Cerati left us in 2011 after a coma rumored to have been induced by an overdose of Viagra. His song “Lago del Cielo” was the first song in Spanish I fell in love with, or maybe it was that little bit of Duran Duran I heard in it.
Es Por Ti - (It's for You) the way Colombian Juanes opens this song makes it the sexiest one on the list. An easy song to sing, save this one (45,288,819 hits) for when want to serenade yourself or someone else you love. If that’s too sweet for you, try “A Dios Le Pido,” slightly more popular (but not near as romantic) song.
El Duelo - (The Hurt) by Chilean band La Ley (120,659,479 hits), was released in 2001. The absolute best way to hear this song is by seeing and hearing the MTV video version (45,975,102 hits vs. 11,706,519 hits for the official version) which includes an astonishing duet with Mexican female vocalist Ely Guerra. The album was the Latin Grammy Award Record of the Year and Best Rock Song of the year.
Mariposa Traicionera by Maná - (Traitor Butterfly - 138, 794,820 hits) Practice rolling your Spanish “r”s with the second stanza, “Yo soy un ratón en tu ratonera” (I’m a mouse in your mousetrap) in a song that Mexicans know every single word to, and aren’t afraid to prove it at any Maná concert.
With Maná being arguably Mexico’s top rock band, it was very hard to choose between this song and their hit “Muelle de San Blas” (69,514,430 hits), a beautiful song that tells the same story as the “Brandy” by Looking Glass (remember that?) of a woman who waited (and waited) for her man to return from the sea.
Another one I’d like to mention is Italian Gianluca Grignani who did “Mi Historia Entre Tus Dedos,” (roughly My Story in Your Hands - 98,129,349 hits) translated from Italian to Spanish (which I had the privilege of performing Karaoke-style with the 16-year-old daughter of a Mexican friend of mine at a New Year's Eve party - yes, it's that slow).
Hope you enjoy the list. I’m already planning the next one, “Music to Wake Up to in Mexico.”
Related Links: My first blog about Spanish-language music and my own transition to it that began with Spanish crooner Miguel Bosé.
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Most recent: A decades-old medical scam is alive and well in Mazatlán. This blog is a must-read for anyone heading to a Mexican resort town.
Kerry Baker is a partner with Ventanas Mexico and author of two books. The "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," provides links and lesson plans to the best Spanish-learning tools online, organized into lesson plans. Check out the reviews here. The book is supported by a book blog on this site.
The second book is "If Only I Had a Place," is a guide to renting luxuriously in Mexico for less, including a listing of rental concierges who know their towns inside and out.