Want to learn Spanish but tired of hitting the books? Why not break into song (and dance)? If you’re looking to widen your vocabulary and practice your comprehension skills, we’ve got the all-time best YouTube playlist for you. By listening to and learning these Spanish songs, you’ll be speeding up your learning progress whenever you’re in the mood to jam.
Here you’ll find the best Spanish songs on YouTube from a variety of genres to add to your weekend queue. Watch out: you may just get Latin fever.
Songs can help speed up learning. After all, songs show you how to pronounce words and help you with the natural melody of the language. Perhaps the best reason for learning Spanish songs is that you’ll get the social context behind certain phrases. Listening to music can help you understand how words are used in real life. This sure beats memorizing new vocab! Bonus: some of the best Spanish songs are really catchy and you’ll find yourself singing along. (Just try to get Despacito out of your head.)
If you want to maximize learning with songs, you can speed up the process with our tips. Before we get started, remember that listening to songs in Spanish benefits intermediate learners the most, since they can use what they already know as a starting point for understanding the music. Beginners beware: you may want to wait until you have a stronger grasp of Spanish concepts before you listen. Otherwise, you may get frustrated when you can’t understand much.
The first step to learning a new Spanish song is choosing one that you really like! If you’re not interested in the song, it will be much harder to learn and study. Once you’ve picked the song, you can follow these tips to make the most of it:
Here you’ll find 33 songs in Spanish, organized by the most popular music genres in Latin America. Depending on your musical interests, you can head straight to the genres you like. Or you can explore it all and check out the best Spanish songs we’ve selected. Either way, get jammin’!
Bachata is a sensual Caribbean style of music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. It started as an underground movement in lower-class neighborhoods during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. The music rejected elitism and focused on the urban reality of the people.
Bolero is a genre that favors slow-tempo Latin music in the ballroom style. It arose out of the Cuban trova style and became popular in Mexico in the 1940-1950s with the help of the Mexican cinema scene and the big band movement. Bolero has thrived throughout Mexico and the Caribbean with its romantic and timeless lyrics. While Trio Los Panchos is a bolero legend, Luis Miguel is largely credited with revitalizing the genre with his album Romance in 1991.
Bossa Nova, meaning “new wave/trend,” is a Brazilian genre that blends samba and jazz. Popularized in the 1950-1960s by João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, bossa nova is extremely popular today with icons such as Chico Buarque and Gilberto Gil. Though bossa nova is typically sung in Portuguese, here Joao Gilberto sings his hit song in Spanish.
Cumbia is a popular Latin dance genre that likely originated in Colombia. Since then, it’s spread throughout Latin America with many variations on the central beat. It’s characterized by a simple 2/4 rhythm and influenced by African beats, indigenous flutes and European melodies. Cumbia is one of those typical LATAM rhythms that’s often used for cross-over fusions.
Folklore means something different for every Latin American region. However, folklore often involves relatively unknown artists from the countryside (often indigenous) who present original lyrics on the guitar. Folklore uses this sense of criollo musical expression to share stories or political statements.
As the name suggests, Latin Pop combines Latin beats with American pop music. This genre is extremely wide and the blend of influences depend on the artist. Typical examples of Latin Pop include Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias. However, the genre has evolved and nowadays artists are fusing Latin Pop with cumbia and reggaeton for lots of cross-over variation.
Latin Rock is another genre with lots of variation. Typically, Latin Rock combines rock beats with Latin and Caribbean elements. Latin Rock had it’s boom in the 1990s, when iconic bands such as La Vela Puerca and Los Auténticos Decadentes were born. Latin Rock lyrics also generally follow the rock tradition of talking about social issues.
Merengue is a fast-paced musical genre from the Dominican Republic. It uses a five-beat rhythm called a quintillo. Typically, it’s accompanied by simple instruments such as an accordion and güira. Telling of its versatility, merengue is common in both nightclubs and ballrooms. Merengue’s biggest modern icon is Dominican artist Juan Luis Guerra.
Commonly mistaken with reggaeton, reggae is a genre that originated in Jamaica in the 1960s and was widely popularized by Bob Marley. In Latin America, reggae is fairly similar except for the use of Spanish, Latin background elements and regional lyrics. Reggae is another beat that’s often fused with Latin pop.
Reggaeton is a wildly popular dance genre that started in Puerto Rico in the 1990s. It’s a fusion of hip hop and Caribbean beats, with both rapping and singing. Daddy Yankee is largely credited with creating the genre, though it’s spread among artists across Latin America. It’s considered the central hip hop music of Latin America and is often fused with other genres.
Salsa is a fast, sexy genre originally from Cuba. It’s influenced by Afro-Cuban dances, including the mambo, rumba, bomba and cha-cha-cha. Typically it starts slow and then changes into a quick salsa rhythm. Salsa was also popularized with Nuyoricans (Puerto Ricans located in New York City), such as the icon Marc Anthony. It’s now spread across Latin America with several fusion variations.
Tango is a music-dance genre from Argentina and Uruguay that developed in the 1870s by black performers. It uses strong African and candombe influences, especially the beats. Later, tango evolved to include European elements and transitioned into a middle-class dance thanks to Carlos Gardel in the 1920-1930s. During the big band craze in the 1940s, tango took on new popularity as well.
These 33 best Spanish songs on YouTube will help speed up your learning. After you get the earworm from listening to so much Latin music, you can also boost your Spanish in other ways. If you’re looking to improve speaking and pronunciation, you can try some of our language tips for quick improvement:
Take charge of your Spanish learning by finding fun and rewarding ways to boost your vocabulary and practice pronunciation. Listen to Spanish songs on YouTube, watch movies in Spanish on Netflix, practice conversation and more! Make the most of your learning by exposing yourself to as much media in Spanish as possible. Every little step can make a big impact on your learning!