Our Daily Bleg: Spanish-Language Music, Please

From a reader named Joe McCright of Alexandra, La., comes the following bleg. Please help him out in the comments section. Past blegs can be found here; you can send your own bleg requests here.

I teach Spanish to kids in pre-K through 4th grade, and I play music of the Spanish-speaking world to expose them to aspects of the culture.

What specific artists and songs do residents of the Spanish-speaking world consider to be representative of a specific genre of music — e.g., tango, baladas, cumbia, etc.?

Moreover, I need free and legal music. Where do I go?

Addendum: This video of a marimba version of “New York, New York” sent in by commenter Pierre (thanks!) is fantastic. I think the N.Y. Yankees should bring these kids in to play after their victories instead of the old Sinatra version.


OMG You need to have some son jarocho, the best Spanish-speaking music on the planet. It comes from Veracruz typically, a state in Mexico. I would recommend the Conjunto Hueyapan for more traditional sones, and los Camperos de Nati Cano for a wider variety of mariachi music.


I'm from Argentina, I can tell you what people does actually listen here.

National Rock: Soda Stereo, Redonditos de Ricota, Fito Paez, Bersuit Vergarabat, Andrés Calamaro, Divididos.

Cumbia: Los Palmeras, Leo Mattioli, Pibes Chorros.

Tango isn't that popular as the world may think. I am not saying that a lot of people does listen to Tango, I am just saying it is not that popular. I particularly haven't heard much, so I cannot tell you any group. But the obvious is Astor Piazzola, or Carlos Gardel.

Jack Hayes

Check out ritmolatino.org.

my kinda music

thanks all for the help in finding good music. I am a non-spanish speaking latin music lover. listen all the time. that's how my husband and I met, dansing salsa. When I was a kid, my dad brought home a large sheet of paper that taught the steps of the meringue, I have been dansing ever since and that's how I met my husband---dansing. Particularly like Wili Colon, Rae Barreto and the "king." that was our first date. Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooromantic. And great exercise. So you don't have to be latin to be a latin music lover --

PS. and Yes, Just loved Jen doing the tango and Mark Anthony is passionate about his' music-


I agree with #11 and #18. Best thing in spanish for kids is Cri-Cri. He has a very vast collection of songs. The lyrics are great for the most part, although there might be a couple that might not be considered PC for current standards, since he is from a different generation. The music though is great. He pretty much uses a version of almost every single music genre in his songs... from Polka to Salsa, Blues to Tango, etc. That is pretty much all my kids like to listen to in terms
of music. I bought a pretty big collection of his music very cheaply, but I wouldn't know where to download them legally for free. I have tried getting my kids to listen to more adult pop stuff in spanish, but they are not nearly as interested as with Cri-Cri. I would say a high proportion of kids in the last 3 generations in Mexico have been brought up with Cri-Cri.


I still remember listening to Manu Chao when I was in grade school spanish class. Very eclectic, funky latin music that is easy to sing along to and appeals to a wide age range.


Triangulo Oscuro do some cracking hip hop. Saw them in Glasgow, Scotland a while back and ended up ordering their albulm from Cuba. Think you can get some of thier stuff on youtube.


Justo Lamas is an Argentenian pop singer who specializes in educational concerts for schools in North America. I have fond memories of classes geared toward his concerts in middle school.

Good for 4th graders? I don't know. Catchy, sugary stuff though.


Try "Papi chulo" by Lorna.

Just joking.


I think it's going against the spirit of the bleg, but I feel the best way to have kids pick up on the 'feel' of Spanish via music, both with vocab and with tone, is to have them listen to contemporary Latin American/South American rock/pop music. I feel like that more accurately represents modern culture in that part of the world; while instruments like the marimbas are undeniably part of the cultural fabric, saying that they are indicative of the musical culture is like saying that the piano or violin is indicative of western musical culture; totally true but also totally false at the same time.

the Gooch

My Spanish teacher showed us Camarero by Enrique:

and Pelo Suelto by Gloria Trevi:

...and I can still sing them both by heart a decade later.


Merengue: Juan Luis Guerra, Milly Quezada, Sergio Vargas

Salsa: Gilberto Santa Rosa

Son: Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer

Balada: Marco Antonio Solis

Trova: Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes

Rock: Fito Paez (look for Mariposa Technicolor, they'll love it), Gustavo Cerati, Soda Stereo, Aterciopelados (florecita rockera)

Pop: Reik, Camila, El Cuarteto de Nos

...among many others


I love the recently released cast recording of the new Broadway musical "In The Heights." A few of the songs might be too mature, but most if not all of them incorporate Spanish language and musical stylings, and the show itself is sweet and feel-good. I particularly like the song "Sunrise," which uses a Spanish lesson as a love song. Overall, there's a great interplay between American musical theatre and Hispanic culture.

Jose Hernandez

Tango: Carlos Gardel, Piazzolla.


recomend: Gipsy Kings
free and legal music: your local library

Julian Garcia



For the kids Cri-Cri (Gabilondo Soler) is definitely the best option, great songs, easy to listen to and clearly pronunciation that allows to understand the lyrics.

You may try "El Raton Vaquero" or "El Chorrito".


There are a lot of artists and songs for each genre and it is really difficult to choose just one.

If you want to hear good flamenco you always have Camarón (but I think it won't be easy to understand for kids) and Paco de Lucía playing the spanish guitar.

Furthermore, Julio Iglesias and Luis Miguel (mexican) are great singers in the baladas genre. I recommend you to hear them.

Then there are many many artists such as La Oreja de Van Gogh and Amaran for the pop genre... but I guess these are the most representatibe of the Spanish-speaking music.

Where to find them? Youtube...

Good luck


I think Maria Elena Walsh is great for kids. Two samples here on YouTube:



iTunes puts up free songs every week and they've been doing it in Spanish for a while (or at least the past two weeks, which is when I started noticing it), so you could always try those out, as well.