Music. We love it.
We play it in our cars, homes, at the gym and even on airplanes.
Some of us sing along. Off-key or in-tune, we sing.
And we love belting out every lyric.
Spanish language learners, do you see where I’m going with this?
There are so many famous Spanish-language singers and a diversity of songs and styles…and they’re just waiting to be part of our lives.
If we incorporate some of these incredible voices into our learning program, we’ll satisfy our craving for music while we ramp up our fluency.
It’s a win-win situation!
How Can Spanish Singing Benefit Our Language Skills?
- Singing itself facilitates language learning. In one study, it was found that adults who sang words and phrases while learning them were twice as good at speaking the language later on. So if you sing along with your favorite Spanish-language artists, you’ll learn even more from them!
- Motivation is a major factor in learning. If you like a song or artist (and are therefore motivated to hear and learn more from that person!), you’ll just put the music on repeat and keep practicing your Spanish. This is especially true because listening to music and singing along is fun. Even if we don’t know all the words or have to hum a few bars, it’s an activity that’s enjoyed globally, in pretty much every culture.
- There’s an incredible variety of Spanish-language singers from a diverse array of Spanish-speaking countries. It may be harder to choose just a few than it is to get their lyrics right! This means listening to Spanish-language music is a great way to improve your exposure to different dialects and types of Spanish.
- Learning with songs provides pronunciation practice. Whether we speak or sing, learning lyrics helps us work on our Spanish pronunciation. We all realize that’s important!
How to Incorporate Some Famous Spanish Music into Your Study Time
- Choose songs that have a good beat. This will help you associate lyrics with a particular rhythm and retain them better. Who knows? Maybe you can dance and sing at the same time.
- When you select artists to add to your playlist, look for singers who enunciate clearly so you’ll understand at least most of the lyrics.
- Choose a style of music you like. Spanish-language music offers a plethora of music styles—salsa, bolero, Latin pop, Latin/African fusion, just to name a few—so you’re sure to find a tempo that will get your toes tapping and loosen those vocal cords.
The following list is comprised of musicians and artists from various types of Spanish music, so there’s sure to be one that appeals to you. Additionally, it may be fun to mix things up. It’s a good idea to try different genres as well as singers whose countries of birth are diverse, so that you’re exposed to a wider spectrum of music and the Spanish language.
Famous Spanish-language Singers: 7 Diverse, Must-know Artists
When you think of Latin music, one of the first artists to come to mind is Carlos Santana. He was born in Mexico in 1947 and has been making music since he was a child. His group’s legendary performance at the three-day Woodstock festival in 1969 sent him to the top of the music charts. His five decades of commercial fame have influenced generations and he’s garnered a huge list of accolades.
Rolling Stone magazine put him on its list of Top 100 Guitarists of All Time—in the very impressive #20 spot. The man is all about the music. He enjoys sharing the stage and has collaborated with other greats, such as Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Tina Turner and Jerry Garcia.
Santana’s Latin and African-inspired rhythms and lyrics are a language learner’s dream. There’s a huge amount of material to choose from. Really, five decades’ worth? It’s mind-boggling, but with so much variety, there’s something for everyone.
Looking for songs with just a few lyrics? Try “Oye cómo va” (“Listen to How It Goes”).
A bit more fluent? There are many intricate pieces that not only express the ins and out of the language but are also wonderfully romantic, like “Amor correspondido” (“Requited Love”).
Buena Vista Social Club
Buena Vista Social Club is super popular on the Latin dance scene. Their salsa and bolero music sets the tone for dancing in clubs in cities from New York to L.A. and Havana to Miami. They first found fame in the 1990s and haven’t lost their following.
The name, Buena Vista Social Club, is derived from an actual dance club in Havana. The group is fluid and adds new members as openings come up. Their style is perfect for language learning: Many titles feature simple, repetitive lyrics, which are ideal for anyone who wants to sing along!
“El carretero” (“The Cart Man”) is a guajira (country lament) that’s especially poignant.
Fans of romantic ballads and sexy salsas enjoy Tito Nieves. He’s Puerto Rican and known by the nickname El Pavarotti de la Salsa (The Pavarotti of Salsa). Early in his career, he was affiliated with a few groups, but in 1986 he went solo and never looked back. The man’s performance schedule sends him globe-trotting, and at his sold-out performances, many of his fans get the chance to sing along with his strong voice!
Tito Nieves is known for singing love songs set to a salsa rhythm. “De mí enamórate” (“Fall in Love with Me”) is a super example.
He sings clearly and the words aren’t difficult to follow or repeat. It’s a pleasure to practice Spanish this way!
The international music world suffered a great loss when Spanish pop star Nino Bravo was killed in a car crash in Spain in 1973. He was only 28 when he died, but he’d already achieved fame with a solid hit from his first album.
The song was called “Te quiero te quiero” (“I love you I love you”) and the smooth sound makes the music both soothing and sensual. The song’s sweet lyrics are catchy, and the vow of eternal faithfulness makes it so memorable many music aficionados consider it a classic hit.
Bravo released three solo albums; the third made him wildly popular in many Latin American countries and with the Spanish-speaking American population. It’s sad to note that shortly before his death, the Spanish singer signed a lucrative deal with a record company. Fortunately, his legacy lives on in his music.
Daddy Yankee is his stage name, but Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez is also called the King of Reggaeton. It seems fitting that this Puerto Rican singer comes with more than one name, since his professional credits include singer, songwriter, rapper and record producer. His lesser-known goal was to become a professional baseball player; although he tried out for a major league team, his sports career was derailed when he was hit by a bullet.
Baseball’s loss was the entertainment industry’s gain. With rapid-fire precision, the 2004 release “Gasolina” (“Gasoline”) tells a story set to music. This song brought the music genre reggaeton to the world on a grand scale, making Daddy Yankee an international phenomenon. The album Barrio Fino (Classy Neighborhood) was the top-selling Latin album of the decade between 2000-2009 and cemented his position as the man responsible for bringing reggaeton into mainstream music.
In language learning, he’s an ideal singer to emulate. His pronunciation is clear and the repetitiveness of some of his songs makes them perfect practice material.
The romantic ballads sung by Los Temerarios, a group started by brothers Adolfo Angel and Gustavo Angel, have garnered multiple awards, including a Latin Grammy and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 from the Latin Billboard Awards.
The Mexican brothers sing soulfully, and the songs they bring to their audiences stir such deep emotions some are brought to tears.
Their newest single, “Me Partiste el Corazon” (“You Broke My Heart”) is hauntingly beautiful and the tempo is so slow that even beginning learners won’t have any trouble singing along with the duo.
These singers have been delighting listeners for over 30 years, and the good news is, they don’t look ready to stop anytime soon!
Fher Olvera of Maná
No list of Spanish musical artists would be complete without the Mexican rock group Maná and its lead singer, Fher Olvera. Drawing influences from many styles including ska, calypso, reggae and classic rock, the pure liquid sounds of Maná invite listeners to sing along.
Skillful instrumental accompaniment, especially percussion and guitar, makes this group’s music multi-dimensional. Not only is the singing exceptional, but the musicians’ abilities make every title feel like it could be the next award-winner.
“Mi Verdad” (“My Truth”) is a duet sung with Colombian superstar Shakira, and it’s so sweet and pretty it’s sure to end up on your Spanish learning playlist. Its lyrics are pure and clear, and the melody is slow and meandering, giving every opportunity for Spanish practice.
Sing Along and Push Your Language Skills to the Top of the Charts!
Music is a super addition to any Spanish language learning venture.
It brings the language to life using a medium that crosses cultural boundaries and encourages appreciation and participation.
Who doesn’t love to hum along to a great song? But with these amazing singers, make sure you do more than hum. Belt out the lyrics, move your feet to the beat and get your Spanish groove on, one melody at a time.
¡Canta, canta, canta! (Sing, sing, sing!)