When people are learning a new language, they’re often told immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. This means reading Spanish literature, watching Spanish movies and television shows, and even listening to popular Spanish songs. All of these things will not only help you learn the language, but it’ll also help you appreciate the culture and customs as well.
But what is it about Spanish that makes us want to get up and dance? Is it the catchy beats? Is it the upbeat lyrics? Or is it something deeper than that?
There are popular Spanish songs in a variety of genres, but where did the music originate? National Geographic explains: “in 1496 Queen Isabella commissioned the first collection of Spanish songs -- known as the ‘Cancionero de Palacio’- partly to help bind her newly unified kingdom together with a common songbook.”
The songs features classic and instrumental music that was made popular by Renaissance composers like Tomas Luis de Victoria, but Spanish music is more than just flamenco. Many styles of Spanish music have been influenced by elements found in African, Arabic, traditional Indian and Middle Eastern, Jewish and Irish music.
Spanish music has a lovely way of making you want to get off your seat and shake a tail feather, but did you know that by listening to Spanish music, your brain is going to improve your memory capacity, your attention span, as well as the ability to focus and improve your language skills.
Of course, there are other reasons to listen to the best Spanish songs, both past and present, and they include:
The different genres of Spanish and Latin music aren’t just frilly words with no meaning. The lyrics and music have a deep connection to the history, culture, and language itself.
Each Spanish-speaking country have their own favorite genre of music. If you want to understand the culture of a specific place, you need to know its preferred genre. For example, folks in the Dominican Republic favor bachata while Colombians like classic salsa.
You could go through a list of vocabulary words and not remember a thing you read. However when you listen to a song, you’re probably going to remember the words and their meaning much easier because the tune is so darn catchy!
The more often you listen to Spanish music, you’re more than likely going to start remembering the lyrics so you can sing along. When you do, you’re going to start picking up on tone and how each letter sounds when vocalized, unlike learning from a book alone.
Like anything in life, when you learn something and can do it well, it’s going to boost your confidence quite a bit. Just think of how great it’ll feel when you can sing along to your favorite song without looking up the lyrics on YouTube.
Usually when people think of Spanish music, their thoughts automatically turn to flamenco. While this is definitely a popular genre, it isn’t the only genre.
In this section we’re going to go over some of the most popular genres of Spanish music and the top Spanish songs within said genre.
Techno is the Valencian version of electronic music and it’s recognizable by the marked rhythm. An example of this type of music is “Viva la Fiesta” by Paco Pil.
Copla is a sped up version of flamenco. Many of the lyrics in Copla music are describing some sort of uncontrollable passion. An example of this type of music is "Tatuaje" by Concha Piquer.
Not to be confused with Copla, Cuplé is very different. The genre was inspired by the fast songs from 19th century France. The music in this genre feature boldy sensual lyrics. An example of this type of music is “Popurri de Chotis” by Olga Ramos.
Movida isn’t just a genre, it is a counter culture phenom that originated in Madrid during the 1980s and is like glam, punk and new wave music. An example of this type of music is “Cruz de Navajas” by Mecano.
If you want to have fun and dance, then you’re going to want to listen to Pachangueo. An example of this type of music is “Macarena” by Los Del Rio.
Rumba is what you get when you combine Cuban culture with flamenco. This is a type of music that is full of vigor, passion, and even a little bit of danger. An example of this type of music is “Sea Como Sea” by Los Chichos.
During the 1960s, the younger generation grew tired of flamenco, copla and cuplé and so they began listening to pop music from France and England. An example of this type of music is “Mejor” by Los Brinkos.
As you’ve learned today, Spanish music is more than just flamenco and salsa. No matter what song you listen to, it is going to help you learn Spanish in a more authentic way. You could study words on a page until the cows come home, but that isn’t going to teach you how to pronounce the words correctly.
In the comments below, what is your favorite type of Spanish music? If you don’t have a favorite, which of these top Spanish songs makes you want to get up and move the most?