Do you have any recommendations for fantastic songs/albums in Spanish?
March 22, 2011 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Do you have any recommendations for fantastic songs/albums in Spanish?

Do you have any recommendations for fantastic songs/albums in Spanish? I'm learning Spanish at the moment and I'd like to listen to some songs while I'm being a desk monkey at work with the idea that I'll reinforce my vocab & pronunciation.

So far I've been listening to Shakira/J-Lo songs. Those are good because with the crossover hits, as I already have a basic idea of the 'narrative'. I also like Enrique Iglesias because he sings very slowly, as do the Buena Vista Social Club chaps.

But I'm now at the point where they are driving me mad - that sort of pop doesn't really do it for me. A quick Askmefi search has so far introduced me to Daddy Yankee's Machucando and Pitbull's Anthem... also going through this list. Diverse. I like indie pop/rock, so anything along that line would be amazing, but anything goes… Thanks!
posted by teststrip to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
My only recommendation would be Buena Vista Social Club and the few Los Lobos tracks in Spanish... but both would be awesome.
posted by kdern at 7:57 PM on March 22, 2011

Mexican Institute of Sound. Worth it if only for their version of "Bittersweet Symphony," on Soy Sauce, but I like the rest of the album, too.

The Shakira stuff is awesome — just about every song sounds better in the original Spanish!
posted by Joey Bagels at 7:59 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've recommended this before in different contexts, but...

Re by the rock en español band Cafe Tacuba is one of the greatest albums ever made.
posted by neroli at 8:00 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like Spain's La Oreja de Van Gogh and Venezuela's Caramelos de Cianuro.
posted by limeonaire at 8:02 PM on March 22, 2011

Nina Nana by Ana y Jaime is great song. Their other music comes no where near this...

Also, I love Los Pasteles Verdes - they're sort of psychedlic lounge music en espanol.
posted by cinemafiend at 8:03 PM on March 22, 2011

You may try Maná. They're kind of the U2 of Mexico, been around forever, kind of played out if you've been hearing them for the past twenty years, but pretty good if you're just now discovering them. Their MTV Unplugged album is probably a lot easier to understand if you're focusing on lyrics.

Also old, but good, Sin Documentos by Los Rodriguez is an incredibly catchy song with (mostly) understandable lyrics to this non-native speaker. It's the only song I'm familiar with by them, but I know it was a huge hit in the mid-90s for them.

Jesus, even in Spanish-language music threads I'm an old fart.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:04 PM on March 22, 2011

I like Manu Chao, Mana, and my favorite guilty pleasure -- Soda Stereo.
posted by prenominal at 8:10 PM on March 22, 2011

Oh, also, in a non-old-farty way, if you want a somewhat steady exposure to (mostly) new stuff, be sure and check out NPR's Alt-Latino Podcast. I don't like everything they play, but I've found some awesome recommendations on spanish-language music through them.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:14 PM on March 22, 2011

Some good pop instead? Like Fito Paez, or Diego Torres. Fabiana Cantilo had a superb album of classic Argentine rock/pop covers a few years back. It doesn't do much for me, but I admit that Julieta Venegas is quite good at what she does too. Same goes for Ana Belen. (I was going to put Joaquin Sabina there too, but his lyrics can be very elaborate, so think of him for the future when you become more fluent - the guy can turn a verse in Spanish around like few songwriters alive today.)
posted by Iosephus at 8:26 PM on March 22, 2011

Cafe Tacuba, especially their classic record Re, where every song is amazing in a completely different genre from the others. Avalanche de exitos has classic songs too.

Chetes is pretty great pure melodic pop too.
posted by umbú at 8:30 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try Amaral for Spanish from Spain. The songs are excellent (in my opinion) and it's also quite easy for a learner to follow the lyrics.

Julieta Venegas sings nice pop songs in American Spanish.
posted by nomis at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2011

Spinetta is an rock legend from Argentina, and his early stuff is interesting.

There are some really interesting bands in Venezuela now, like anti-chavista clash-meets-the-ramones La Vida Bohéme and reggae artist Onechot's powerful anti-violence anthem with ambiguous politics.
posted by umbú at 8:46 PM on March 22, 2011

La Llorona--the first album by Lhasa de Sela.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:46 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Los Amigos Invisibles (nsfw-ish) make great fun funky party music. I imagine that their lyrics are full of vulgar Venezuelan slang.

He's not a native Spanish speaker, but Caetano Veloso did a great version of this classic song.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:48 PM on March 22, 2011

The band Family made only one album, but it has a lovely indie-electropop vibe. Good stuff.
posted by Rinku at 8:48 PM on March 22, 2011

I third Cafe Tacuba! Amazing stuff.

I think you'd like stuff by Los Amigos Invisibles. My favorite song of theirs is "Viviré para tí" from their album Commercial. Most of their songs are similar--funky and rockish and just a bit poppy. :) I remember the CD being fairly reasonable on iTunes.

If you ever stop getting sick of pop, I recommend Fanny Lu. Her songs are catchy, catchy, catchy, and I listened to them a lot while I was studying Spanish.

Cuarteto de Nos is pretty awesome, but I find their lyrics hard to follow. (You should click the link just to see the nifty typographic music video.) My Spanish is pretty low-level, though!

If you happen to know German, Culcha Candela has several songs in Spanish and German. "Siento" comes to mind.
posted by ElectricBlue at 8:49 PM on March 22, 2011

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (La Vida; Padre Nuestro)
Ozomatli (Cumbia de los muertos)
Molotov (Gimme Tha Power)
Manu Chao (Me Llaman Calle)
Bebe (Malo)
Los Rabanes (Señorita a mi me gusta su style)
posted by flex at 8:51 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

A few favorites:
Orishas - El Kilo (cuban hip hop),
Kabeto - Mi negra linda (Honduran reggaeton),
Tropicalismo Apache - La hierba se movia (cumbia),
Lila Downs - El Brasero Fracasado (ranchera, folklorico),
Mach y Daddy - Pasame la botella (reggaeton), and
Aventura - Obsesion (bachata).
posted by rube goldberg at 9:01 PM on March 22, 2011

The Colombian vallenato star Carlos Vives can be pretty cheesy sometimes--he is an ex-soap opera star, after all. At the same time, it's hard to deny how incredibly catchy his songs can be.
posted by umbú at 9:01 PM on March 22, 2011

Davila 666 are really fun rock.
posted by Duffington at 9:02 PM on March 22, 2011

Oops, that second link should be Kabeto - Mi negra linda
posted by rube goldberg at 9:03 PM on March 22, 2011

Techari is a pretty awesome album by Ojos de Brujo. Warning: May make you want to dance at work.
posted by that girl at 9:18 PM on March 22, 2011

The Mana MTV Unplugged album is my default learning-Spanish album. We listened to a bunch of Mana songs in high school, and I picked it up again when I took my a Spanish class last semester for the first time in 5 years. The lyrics are printed in Spanish and English in the booklet for that CD as well, so it was fairly easy to spend an afternoon testing my translation skills on a relatively easy subject. As an added bonus, drilling on those songs meant I had the most melodramatic vocabulary out of all my classmates. Mana has a pretty broad catalogue too, so if you want to spend the time finding a song that demonstrates a specific verb tense you'll probably find an example. Like Ufez Jones mentioned, they're fairly old songs but they'll be new to you.
posted by lilac girl at 9:30 PM on March 22, 2011

I'll be watching this thread with interest. I've seen the other Spanish music threads on here and almost none of it really caught my ear (I also like indie/pop stuff).

Through my own searching I found some decent bands. I really like El Guincho--musically they're quite good although the lyrics aren't as easy to pick out.

Buena suerte!
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:30 PM on March 22, 2011

Oh my gosh, how did I forget - Carlos Vives (Fruta Fresca)
posted by flex at 9:56 PM on March 22, 2011

prenominal: my favorite guilty pleasure -- Soda Stereo

Guilty pleasure? Soda Stereo were a great band! But even better is the first album that Gustavo Cerati, their singer, guitarist and main songwriter, recorded after the band broke up: Bocanada. It's widely recognized as a classic and it's also one of my favorite albums. Here are Tabú and Paseo Inmoral from that album.
posted by Kattullus at 10:06 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

While he might not be Indie/Pop, I would strongly recommend Ricardo Arjona. His lyrics are pretty amazing, and I've had fun translating them into English.
posted by neurodoc at 11:57 PM on March 22, 2011

I was about to recommend Arjona too, for the lyrics. I also like Ana Tijioux. The album the linked song is from is quite good front-to-back.

Her songs are lyrically dense but she sings very clearly, which might be an especially good mix for Spanish learning.
posted by rokusan at 11:59 PM on March 22, 2011

Seconding Mana. El Rey is an absolute classic. Also, if you know any Spanish at all, "No Speak Spanish" as sung by David Paredes is both catchy and absolutely hilarious.
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:08 AM on March 23, 2011

Choc Quib Town. Colombian hip hop. The album I have is a few years old. IIRC, it's called 'Somos Pacificos.'
posted by gnutron at 1:10 AM on March 23, 2011

Obviously musical tastes vary wildly, but your description of yourself as a fan of "Indie pop/rock" sounds like maybe you and I would have similar tastes. I also started with Shakira in Spanish, for probably basically the same reasons as you (I especially like her earlier stuff) but I haven't tried Cafe Tacuba. To start off my own list of recommendations, I would have to second the commenter above who suggested...

Fanny Lú. Specific songs to look for: "No Te Pido Flores" (really good); "Cariñito" (also good); "Abre la Puerta del Corazón" (good for travel vocab, even though it's used metaphorically in the song).

Camila. Their stuff can be kind of ballady/cheesy but I like it. Songs I like best: "Abrázame" (fairly simple & easy to understand); "Me Bastó" (lyrics are fast, but fun to try to sing along with); "Coleccionista de Canciones" (maybe their biggest hit - or at least, usually the only one of their songs that I could find at karaoke places in Peru); "Sin Tu Amor" (slower and prettier).

Jesse & Joy. The big hit single is "Espacio Sideral." It's indie-poppy. I think you will definitely love this song. (I do.)

Sin Bandera. A similar style to Camila - kinda cheesy but some good, catchy songs. "Junto a Ti" is pretty slow and simple lyric-wise. "Que Me Alcance la Vida" is pretty good too.

La Factoría. This is more like dance pop, a little electronicky/housey, which isn't usually I style I go in for, but their songs are so catchy I can't resist. Look for "Cómo Me Duele", "Moriré", and "Perdóname". Something in me really likes their combination of saddish lyrics with upbeat music.

Kumbia Kings. I actually don't know any of their music except one song, "Na Na Na (Dulce Niña)". But that song, once you get used to the odd, almost feminine quality of the (male) singer's voice, is really fun and cool. (I think.) Lots of little rhymes; catchy; simple but kind of fast.

Kudai. I especially like "Te Comeré a Besos". Sort of a girl-rock feel.

Reik. I recommend "Niña", "Cuando Estás Conmigo" (this is also very simple lyrically), "Qué Vida la Mía", and "Acurrúcame la Vida".

With the exception of Fanny Lú, most of those listed above are more poppy or cheesy than maybe you would prefer, but they are fun. Below I'll just list single songs instead of artists, because I'm not familiar with the artists' other work:

"Así Son los Hombres" - the version I have is by Marina Yafac, but I think there might be other versions floating around. This is a good funny song; the line that follows "así son los hombres" is "son una basura!" I like it.
"Chica Bon Bon" by Joselito - a Spanglish reggaeton number
"De Regreso" by Ilona - a beautiful acousticky song with beautiful female lead vocal
"De Rodillas" by Lucas Arnau - also a slower, less cheesy/poppy song
"El Chico del Apartamento 512" by Selena - more poppy
"La Chica Ye-Ye" by Marta Sánchez y Olé Olé - an oldschool simple pop song (pre electronica)
"La Llamada" by Carlos Vives - lyrics are somewhat fast; male vocal; catchy
"La Manera" by Adassa - hip-hop with female lead singer/rapper
"La Quiero a Morir" by DLG - a good introduction to salsa for the neophyte. He does some amazing things with his voice. (Another song by DLG to try is "Me Va a Extrañar".)
"Llorarás por Mi" by Chapa C - a style similar to La Factoría (mentioned above)
"Mariá en la Playa" by Compay Segundo - I actually don't like most of Compay Segundo's music very much, but this song is very simple and catchy and fairly universal, I think
"Nada de Esto Fue un Error" by Coti - a male/female duet, but saying that makes it immediately sounds totally sappy to me. So I should say, this song is more like Postal Service's "Nothing Better" than, say, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", the thought of which kind of makes me shudder.
"Niña" by Mauricio y Palo de Agua - this is the second song called "Niña" on this list. They're not the same and I recommend them both; this one is less poppy, instrumentally speaking, but still really fun by the end; it's about re-falling for an ex-lover.
"Te Mando Flores" by Fonseca - acousticky
"Tregua" by Fuera del Resto - female lead. Light rocky. Begins with the line "No quiero más guerras."

Other than that, if you like the Latin hip-hop of reggaeton, then Daddy Yankee is an obvious choice. I'd recommend "Tu Príncipe", "Lo Que Pasó Pasó", and "Ella Me Levantó". Maná has already been suggested by others. I think they're okay. Songs of theirs that I would recommend are "El Desierto" and "Cachito".
posted by jef at 1:42 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've always liked Molotov's "Guacala Que Rico." I have no idea what they're saying, but it's a pretty neat song. Also, the video is completely off the hook. Here's their wiki page.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 1:51 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

After watching the video again, I forgot to mention NSFW. There's no nudity, but there is plenty of risque behaviour and the taking of the substances.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 1:55 AM on March 23, 2011

Soda Estereo as mentioned before and Juanes.
posted by Admira at 1:56 AM on March 23, 2011

Thirding Cafe Tacuba, for this and for this, and Arjona, mostly for this, which he and his band absolutely kill live. He's got some pretty terrific lyrics.
posted by troywestfield at 7:12 AM on March 23, 2011

Gipsy Kings!
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:26 AM on March 23, 2011

Nobody's mentioned Calle 13? ¡Vamos a portarnos mal! and I am 100% basically everything on that album, Entren los que queiran.

As above, I recommend listening to NPR's alt-latino -- from the snippets of songs they play, you can explore and find stuff you like
posted by squishles at 7:44 AM on March 23, 2011

Los Pericos and Kevin Johansen.
posted by jihaan at 8:40 AM on March 23, 2011

Dan Zanes' Nueva York! is a children's album by a guy who's a good, very curious musician who teams up with talented latin musicians. Pollito chicken is a song used by many Spanish speakers to teach English to their kids. All classic, traditional tunes done well.

Projecto Ghotan is an Argentinian electro-tango outfit with beautiful, to me hypnotic songs, from hip-hoppish to tangoish (whatever that may be). Lunático is my album of choice.

Aterciopelados from Colombia, fun, more in a poppy vein.

Mecano, older rock and roll from Spain, also more on the poppy side.

Los Super Seven, traditional tunes by several Los Lobos bandmembers.

Manu Chao was mentioned above. I recommend the whole album Clandestino.

He was also frontman for a band called Mano Negra which had a great song (and accompanying video): Señor Matanza.

If you're interested in some straight up CD trades (you provide indie music new to me along your tastes, and I provide Spanish only CD's), drop me a note.
posted by subajestad at 9:20 AM on March 23, 2011

Well, I got into this too late and people already mentioned my faves, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Cafe Tacuba, and Julieta Venegas.

I still have input, though, I swear!

1) Vamos a la playa, post-apocalyptic new wave by Italians. But it's actually damned catchy.

2) Vicentico, vocalist from Los Fabulosos, has a solo career. It's pretty good.

3) Depending on how much you love punk (which you kind of need to in order to appreciate the back catalog of Los Fabulosos or Tacuba), you may find Molotov's bilingually offensive Frijolero as maddeningly catchy as I do.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:44 AM on March 23, 2011

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