Mexico has a vibrant musical heritage that traces back centuries. From Mariachi bands to Latin pop, Mexico has been a global musical force, especially in Spanish-speaking audiences. This playlist highlights the best of Mexico’s contemporary scene as well as some historically great musicians and songwriters.
1. Segundo Acto de Destreza Juvenil – Belafonte Sensacional – 2019
Formed in Mexico City in 2009, Belafonte Sensacional draws on traditional folk elements to create a unique folk-rock sound that’s been critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Founder Israel Ramierez has cited Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Nick Drake as key influences, as well as classical Mexican literature.
2. Cuanto la Amaba – Andres Obregon – 2018
Only 23 years old, Andres Obregon is one of many musical sensations to emerge from Leon. A talented guitarist, singer and songwriter, Obregon is one of Mexico’s rising young talents.
3. Mezcalito – Lila Downs – 2011
Singer-songwriter Lila Downs is one of many Mexican actors to make the transition from acting to music. Her music is difficult to categorize into a single genre as it makes use of elements from both traditional Mexican music as well as popular music. She is also famous for her flamboyant live performances and unique fashion.
4. Despedida – Julieta Venegas – 2010
The veritable queen of Spanish alternative rock, Julieta Venegas has been one of the genre’s most consistently esteemed performers. Since her debut album Aqui, Venegas has embarked on a multi-decade career to great success. Fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Venegas is also an excellent instrumentalist with the guitar and accordion.
5. Hasta la Raiz – Natalia Lafourcade – 2015
The Mexican indie-pop pixie princess, Natalia Lafourcade is one of the most successful singer-songwriters in Latin America. She has performed at countless tours throughout both North and South America and is commonly cited as a key influence by entire generations of musicians.
6. La Luna – Josean Log – 2016
Hailing from Cholula, Mexico, Josean Log wins over audiences with his earnest performances and life-affirming songwriting. A multi-instrumentalist, Log plays the ukulele, guitar and piano.
7. Necios – Young Tender – 2016
Hailing from Monterrey in Northern Mexico, Young Tender bring bouncy 80’s pop and a retro aesthetic to modern Mexican music. Since their debut in 2012, they’ve created exciting performances and a cult following along their way.
8. Fuera de Lugar – Girl Ultra – 2019
Mariana de Miguel, or Girl Ultra, is an R&B artist from Mexico City. Heavily influenced by Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, Girl Ultra incorporates a Mexican sound blended with American R&B.
9. Si Tu Te Vas – Ximena Sarinana – 2019
A true star in Latin-American alternative music, Ximena Sarinana received a Grammy nomination for debut album Mediocre in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since. She has released four albums while simultaneously pursuing a successful acting career.
10. Melodia – Cafe Tacuba – 2019
Based out of Ciudad Satelite, the group emerged to great popularity in the 90s and continues to tour today with an ever-changing line-up of band members. Café Tacuba are one of the biggest names in modern Latin rock.
11. Oye Como Va – Santana – 1970
Perhaps the most successful and famous Mexican rock band in history, Santana were formed in San Francisco, California by Carlos Santana. Born and raised in Jalisco, Santana has won ten Grammy Awards as well as countless accolades for his world-renown guitar work.
12. Somos Amigos – Mi Sobrino Memo – 2019
One of Mexico’s rising dream-pop acts, Mi Sobrino Memo offers a lush DIY sound reminiscent of contemporary American alternative.
13. Mientras Me Enamoras – Lalo Brito, Danna Paolo – 2016
It’s common for actors in Mexico to make the transition to music and Lalo Brito and Danna Paolo are no exception. Both made their name on telenovas and soap operas before pursuing careers in Latin pop. Mientras Me Enamoras features the emotional melodies common to the genre.
14. La Magia – Little Jesus – 2017
Indie-pop group Little Jesus have performed on KEXP and for other American radio audiences bringing their music to a wide international audience. In La Magia, their exuberance and unique blend of vocals is cleverly showcased.
15. Todo Lo Que Soy – Maite Perroni – 2013
Another Mexican acting transplant, Maite Perroni was one of the biggest names in Mexican pop. Her album Eclipse de Luna charted her at number two on the Billboard 100 for Latin pop while she pursued simultaneous careers in acting and fashion.
16. Corre – Jesse & Joy – 2011
The brother-sister duo of Jesse & Joy is one of the most successful Latin alternative groups in Mexico. The Latin Times have called them the “purest, most talented artists of our generation” along with countless other music critics. The duo won a Grammy Award for their Un Besito Mas and have won six Latin Grammy Awards.
17. Disfruto – Carla Morrison -2012
Winner of multiple Latin Grammy Awards, Carla Morrison is an icon in Mexican indie and alternative music scenes. Morrison has released seven albums, winning two Latin Grammys for her album Denjenme Llorar.
18. Kumbala – Maldita Vecinidad – 1991
Flamboyantly dressed and bizarrely constructed, Maldita incorporated many different genres into their unique sound and songwriting that highlights the social anxiety in modern Mexican society. One of the most influential pioneers in Latin rock, Maldita is one of Mexico’s most esteemed bands.
19. Serpiente – Marcos Zavala – 2012
With his album Solitario, Marcos Zavala cemented his place in Mexican indie and alternative scenes. His minimalist harmonies and DIY aesthetic helped pave the way for another generation of artists.
20. Matisse – Asi Era Ella – 2015
Hailing from Baja and Sonora, this trio of songwriters was a key face of Mexican pop in the 2010’s. Their two albums Sube and Por tu Bien were popular and commercially successful.
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