Music is just one of those things that can transcend barriers. If it's got a good sound, you don't have to understand the lyrics to enjoy it.
I have always loved listening to music from a variety of genres and when I started learning Spanish, so many doors were opened to a whole new world of amazing music. I truly believe that listening to music is a great way to practice your comprehension and speaking skills.
So if you're looking for a new bop, here are 21 Latinx artists you should be listening to:
Cuco is a Mexican-American teen from L.A. and he falls primarily in the genre known as 'dream pop'. His music is just very chill and he sings in both English and Spanish. He sings about love (both falling in and out of it), Honda CR-Vs, and other things. I just really like his vibes and I appreciate that he mixes and writes his own music.
Song rec: Lo Que Siento
Sabes bien que te quiero, And if you're down to spend your summer with me, just let me know, You know you're my sueño, You came to my life and now I feel alright.
2. Bad Bunny
Oh, Bad Bunny. Truly one of my current favs on the whole music scene. He started his career by uploading songs to SoundCloud while still a student at the University of Puerto Rico. But in two short years, he's become a phenomenon, and is considered a leader in a genre being called 'Latin trap'. He's also pretty progressive. He has used his music videos, the most-watched of which have views exceeding half a billion on YouTube, as a platform for social issues.
Song rec: Caro
¿Por qué no puedo ser así? ¿En qué te hago daño a ti?¿En qué te hago daño a ti? Yo solamente soy feliz.
3. Calle 13
Can I just say iconic? This Puerto Rican band was formed by two stepbrothers and their half-sister and was active from 2004 until 2015 when they took a hiatus. It's hard to pinpoint Calle 13 into one genre of music because their collection is so diverse and varied. I first learned about this band when looking for a Latin American representation of music that blends different cultural influences.
When the group first surfaced in the mid-2000s, Calle 13's lyrics earned it comparisons to rapper Eminem (think Slim Shady era). But in more recent years their music has expanded to cover topics such as Latin American pride, human trafficking, gun violence, and other political issues.
Their music has been influenced by tango, Bollywood, cumbia, rap, rock, and featured a variety of instruments, from drums to ukeleles to pianos. It's almost impossible to find one song by them that I could say fully represents them.. they're just so dynamic.
Song rec: La Perla
Casitas de colores con la ventana abierta, Vecinas de la playa puerta con puerta, Que yo tengo de to', no me falta na', Tengo la noche que me sirve de sábana, Tengo los mejores paisajes del cielo, Tengo una neverita repleta de cerveza con hielo.
4. Ana Tijoux
Ana Tijoux is a French-Chilean artist who raps about female objectification, anti-colonialism, feminism, and other social issues to tracks charged by Latin American folk instruments. I first heard her when I downloaded her track '1977' as one of Apple iTunes's free tracks (back when they used to do that). This song was also featured in an episode of 'Breaking Bad'.
But my favorite album by her is definitely 'Vengo'. All of the songs on this album are just absolute fire.
Song rec: Somos Sur (Feat. Shadia Mansour)
Tú nos dices que debemos sentarnos, Pero las ideas solo pueden levantarnos.
Camila is a Mexican pop-rock band. I've seen them live before and they put on a really energetic and amazing show. This band will always hold a special place in my heart.
Song rec: Decidiste Dejarme
Tú decidiste dejarme, tú disparaste primero Ni se te ocurra acercarte, no te perdono ni quiero.
Rosalía is from Spain and mixes the classic with the modern, heavily influenced by flamenco. According to Pitchfork, Rosalía is asking what it means to be young and Spanish in a country pulled in two directions at once, split between regional identity and globalization's siren song.
Song rec: Malamente
Me proteja y me salve, Me ilumine y me guarde, Y por delante, No voy a perder ni un minuto en volver a pensarte
7. J Balvin
You've probably already heard Colombian singer J Balvin before. His song 'Mi Gente' was pretty big in 2018 and a remix featuring Beyoncé was released. He also sang with Bad Bunny on Cardi B's remake of 'I Like It'. He's told NPR, "We proved to the world that a completely Spanish song can take over the world," he says. "This is just the beginning."
A tu jevo, Avísale, Que este fin de semana, La pasas con to's tus panas y no con él.
Originally from Mexico, Sailorf**'s music is like a lo-fi reggaeton with lyrics about toxic masculinity and other social topics. He told Remezcla, "I don't expect everyone to love me, but as long as there are people who identify with my work, why listen to the haters?".
Song rec: Polo Acartonada
Tu masculinidad tan frágil como cristal, Te molesta mi actitud? Pues perdón gran semental
I'm sorry, but if you don't already have the Colombian queen, Shakira, on your playlist, what are you doing with your life?
Song rec: Estoy Aquí
Estoy aquí queriéndote, Ahogándome, Entre fotos y cuadernos, Entre cosas y recuerdos, Que estoy enloqueciéndome.
Maluma is another upcoming Colombian star and you may recognize him from his two collabs with Shakira: Clandestino and Chantaje. Some of his music videos have over one billion views and he's almost at 40 million Instagram followers.
Song rec: Corazón (Feat. Nego do Borel)
Tú me partiste el corazón, Pero mi amor no hay problema, no no, Ahora puedo regalar, Un pedacito a cada nena, solo un pedacito.
11. Siddhartha / Caloncho
Siddhartha and Caloncho are both rock soloists from Mexico who are growing on the indie music scene.
Song rec: Loco
Y estaría genial que quisieras vacilar, Conmigo en la bici podríamos ir a volar, Cometas en el mar
12. Bomba Estéreo
Bomba Estéreo stands out for how they merge urban "electro psychedelic tropical" rhythms with elements of nature and Colombian folkloric culture that resembles life in rural communities.
Song rec: Soy Yo
Cuando te critiquen, tú solo di, Soy yo
13. Kali Uchis
Bilingual and bicultural, Colombian Kali Uchis's music is a genre-hopping pop experience. She said to Rolling Stone, "It's amazing to have Colombian artists at the forefront of pop music. I wish there were more Afro-Latino Colombians or indigenous Colombians that were being put on at the moment – I feel like that's really what's missing right now. But, you know, being from Colombia is definitely still something to be proud of."
Song rec: Miami (Feat. Bia)
Live fast and never die, I'm moving at the speed of light.
14. Natti Natasha
The Dominican singer has long been one of the lone females doing reggaeton. Lately, she's been putting out collabs with other big names in the game, such as Anitta, Becky G, and Thalía.
Song rec: Criminal (Feat. Ozuna)
Tú me robaste el corazón como un criminal, Bebé yo no puedo negarlo
15. Nathy Peluso
It's hard to find an artist that contains perfectly mixed influences from a variety of genres like Spanish singer Nathy Peluso. She carries trap, swing, R&B, jazz, soul, and blues in her blood.
Song rec: Alabame
Mojado, me gusta que comience destilado, hay una estatua de Atenea en mi tejado; últimamente no me dejo ver, me encuentro en una temporada dedicada a ser.
Mordem is a Spanish singer and her music can be described as R&B and dream-pop.
Song rec: All Of Me Is You
Let me rise, send me hope.
The Chilean singer's music oscillates between a cosmic sound and classic pop melodies.
Song rec: Venus
Somos dos mortales únicos para amar.
Argentinian CAZZU has quickly become one of the most intriguing voices among the next generation of Latin urban artists. She's brought her solid lyricism and raspy voice to some high-profile collaborations.
Song rec: C14TORCE 💔 II
Te dije para siempre y no mentía.
19. Jessie Reyez
The Canadian-Colombian singer describes her music as "violent soul music… It's romantic, it's bloody, it's heaven, it's hell."
Song rec: Figures
I'm willing to stay, coz I'm sick for your love.
20. Nitty Scott
Nitty's music is authentic and vulnerable. She's a spiritual, bisexual, feminist, Afro-Latina putting out some good music.
Song rec: La Diaspora (Feat. Zap Mama)
Dreaming to the beat of the drum all day, One with the sun let it lead my way, La hija de la diaspora.
21. Princess Nokia
Princess Nokia is a Afro-Boricua who shows no desire in being boxed in: she's a rapper with a strong love for punk rock and emo music.
Song rec: Brujas
Your evil ways put no fight, I ain't no queen of the night, I'm a bruja, I'm a bruja, and I'ma dress in all white.