6 Spanish tunes that will make you levantar las manos

If you’re looking for another way to complement your Spanish learning without grammar books, look no further. It’s time to listen.

Listening to Spanish songs will not only train your ear, and possibly move your feet, but it will also help you recognize different Latin accents, registers and intonations. Your karaoke skills won’t complain either.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner of Spanish, you’re bound to connect with some of the following songs. In fact, legally you’re required to love at least one.

Búscate un hombre que te quiera, Francisco Javier Labandón (2004)

Find you a man that can do both! Búscate un hombre que te quiera (2004) is performed by Sevillian singer Francisco Javier Labandón (1962-), known under his stage name, El Arrebato (“The outburst”). El Arrebato’s musical style mixes flamenco rumba and pop. Among his songs, the official anthem of the Sevilla FC football team stands out. His album Que salga el sol por donde quiera won the Spanish Television Album of the Year award in 2005.

Pro tip: This 3.47 minute track features forms of the imperative and subjunctive mode. If you find you’re having trouble grasping some of the vocabulary, you can read a translation of the lyrics.

Y no hago más na’, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico (1983)

Jump back in time to the 1980s with Y no hago más na’ (1983) sung by the Puerto Rican salsa group El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. Formed in 1962 by Rafael Ither (1926-), El Gran Combo is known as the “University of Salsa” because many singers of the genre, including Héctor Lavoe and Celia Cruz, passed through it. The orchestra has produced many famous songs, including Un verano en Nueva York, Gotas de lluvia, and No hay cama pa’ tanta gente.

Pro tip: This song will initiate you to the use of many pronominal verbs such as “levantarse” (to get up) “sentarse” (to sit down) ou encore “acostarse” (to go to bed).

El Albornoz, La banda municipal del Polo Norte (2009)

The song El Albornoz is sung by the independent Catalan pop group, La banda municipal del Polo Norte and features on the album La mejor hora para despertarse, 2009. Lead singer Òscar Dalmau is known mostly for his work in television (TV3) and radio (RAC1), where he acts as a presenter and comedian on different programs.

Pro tip: Òscar Dalmau’s slow and well-pronounced Spanish will make it easier to follow and to retain. Warning: you may be singing this track for a while…or quite possibly forever. You knew the risks.

Jefe de jefes, Los tigres del Norte (1997)

Jefe de jefes is a 1997 song by Mexican band Los tigres del Norte. They play música norteña, a kind of folk music from northern Mexico. Founded in 1964 in San José, California, the group is best known for its controversial corridos (ballads) about the lives of various Latin American drug traffickers. Los tigres del Norte have won several Grammy Awards and have over 80 albums in their discography. Their most popular songs include El niño y la boda and Golpes en el corazón.

Pro tip: With Jefe de jefes, you’ll discover the corrido, a style of song that rose in popularity during the time of the Mexican Revolution and which is often described as a traditional narrative ballad. Corridos are one of the most popular forms of Mexican regional music and have shaped Mexico’s history and culture.

Mi libertad, Jerry Rivera y Julio Voltio (2003)

The song Mi libertad (2003) was performed by Puerto Rican singers Jerry Rivera and Julio Voltio. It was originally written and performed by Frankie Ruiz in 1992. Ruiz (1958-1998), known as “the father of salsa”, was a New York musician of Puerto Rican origins. He is particularly famous for his compositions in the salsa romántica style, a softer form of salsa. Mi libertad is the title track of the album which Ruiz released after serving time in prison. The album sold over 100,000 copies and made the Billboard Top 10 in the USA.

Pro tip: We’d advise intermediate to advanced learners of Spanish alike to listen to this track, as the singers speak at a fast pace – but that doesn’t make the song any less catchy!

Que te haga buen provecho, Pedro Infante (1952)

Que te haga buen provecho (“May you make the most of it”) is performed by the legendary Mexican singer Pedro Infante (1917-1957). Despite a short career due to his premature death in a plane crash, Infante managed to record 314 songs and act in 60 films. For this reason, he is considered an icon of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Written by José Alfredo Jiménez, one of Mexico’s most famous composers, this song was recorded by Pedro Infante in 1952.

Pro tip: Infante uses the conjunction “si” as well as the subjunctive mode, two major difficulties you’re bound to encounter in your learning of Spanish. In order to understand the ins and outs of what he is talking about, try listening to it with the lyrics in front of you, translated or not.

Bonus track: Perdón, Los Panchos y José Luis Rodríguez (1997)

We end on a high note with the song Perdón (1997), performed by a trio famous for their boleros: Los Panchos, along with Venezuelan singer José Luis Rodríguez (Caracas, 1943-), also known as “El puma“. Los Panchos was founded in 1944 by Mexican performers Chucho Navarro and Alfredo Gil, and the Puerto Rican Hernando Avilés. With millions of records sold and hits like Sabor a mí, the group is still active today, led by Chucho Navarro Jr. El Puma is famous for singing boleros and romantic ballads, like the song Voy a perder la cabeza. In 1997, he released the album titled Inolvidable with Los Panchos, which includes this version of Perdón.

Pro tip: The song’s catchy and repetitive lyrics make it easy for learners to follow and memorize over time.

Today’s clips are also featured in the “dessert” section of our Hotel Borbollón online Spanish lessons. Each lesson contains an authentic sample of Hispanic culture to finish off your daily exercises in style. These include excerpts from cinema, series, songs, and more.

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