9 Throwback Songs That Are Just as Nostalgic as Bad Bunny’s Remake of ‘La Macarena’
Who doesn’t remember “La Macarena” playing on every radio station in the 90s? The infectious beat seemed to always resound from mami’s boombox in the kitchen as she cleaned, or in dad’s car on the way to school or beisbol practice.
The Los Del Río hit was an immediate powerhouse anthem, rising to #1 on the Billboard chart, only becoming the second Spanish song ever to do so. Staying at the top for a whopping 14 weeks, “La Macarena” became a worldwide phenomenon, played at everything from prom to weddings as a mainstay staple. While we often associate the song with conga lines, our abuelita, or our 8th grade dance teacher, we were pretty shocked when reggaeton king Bad Bunny decided to remake the song in a Y2K-themed video shoot for Vogue.
Spoiler alert: the Vogue video is absolutely amazing, featuring a diverse group of models decked out in glittery blue eyeshadow and Bratz-style low-rise jeans, while El Conejo Malo struts around in a metallic lime-green suit, singing “dale a tu cuerpo alegría Macarena” in his Boricua accent. A.K.A., absolute perfection. The video got us thinking about all the nostalgic 90s and 2000s hits that still give us a spark of joy today, so read on for all the hits you probably bopped to in your childhood that still hold up today.
1. “Amor Prohibido” by Selena
We can’t start this list off any other way than with forever-golden-girl Selena herself, who we’ll always invoke when hitting a karaoke bar with friends, or when practicing “la lavadora” moves at home while vacuuming. Arguably her biggest hit, “Amor Prohibido” tells a “Romeo and Juliet”-style tale of a couple from different social stratas who choose love over what people think. With potent lyrics like “el dinero no importa en ti ni en mi, ni en el corazón,” this song toes the line between deliciously-addictive Tejano-pop, and lyrics that resonate with all walks of life. We’ll always love this bop, along with every song the Queen of Tejano ever made.
2. “María” by Ricky Martin
While Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” and “Livin’ La Vida Loca” were fierce contenders for this list, there’s just something about the slightly-dark, very danceable “María.” Penned by fellow Menudo singer-songwriter and resident bad boy Robi Draco Rosa himself, this song is an ode to a woman who is “caída de otro planeta” and un “laberinto carnal.” While some have suspected the song’s symbolism is actually about drug use, Martin has fiercely denied those rumors. What’s most epic about this song? Its fusion between salsa, cuema, and samba, which completely twisted what Latinos were “supposed” to sing for an American audience in 1995.
3. “Quiero Bailar” by Ivy Queen
Ah, la reina del reggaeton and of everything that’s good when it comes to Y2K Latino nostalgia. Ivy Queen will always be “La Caballota” to us, a singer that paved the way for all other reggaetoneras to follow in her footsteps. Starting her career in the early 90s when reggaeton was still seen as “underground” and completely male-dominated, Ivy Queen’s 2003 “Quiero Bailar” made her a worldwide sensation. Perreo is a necessity whenever we hear the trademark “yo quiero bailar, tú quieres sudar y pegarte a mí, el cuerpo rozar,” and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
4. “Ciega, Sordomuda” by Shakira
Shakira, Shakira: one of the most important singers of our generation, we will always feel so much orgullo when thinking about how far the Barranquilla-born superstar has come. While big, worldwide hits like “Whenever, Wherever” and “Waka Waka” put her on the global stage in a different way than her earlier hits, we’ll take “Ciega, Sordomuda” any day of the week. Part of her 1998 album “Dónde Están Los Ladrones?,” a CD we still remember in our parents’ living room with its pink background, braids, and iconic dirty hands, this song is an explosion of nostalgia for us. With lyrics like, “cuántas veces he intentado enterrarte en mi memoria, y aunque diga ya no más es otra vez la misma historia,” this song only gets more relatable with age. Extra points for the guitars, the brass, and that super-surreal music video.
5. “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo
A song we can all get behind especially for las navidades, Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente” is an immediate signal to the dance floor, a bop that sounds as good now as it did in 1998. The epitome of wedding music our tías and abuelitas love, this song still fits right at home at a club, dancing along with our mejores amigas de toda la vida, or our S.O. This song topped Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart for six weeks, and even played during NASA’s 2016 Space Shuttle Discovery mission. While Crespo told Tidal he “wasn’t expecting a global explosion,” and explained to Billboard he came up with it in the shower, this song made it to space — so it’s downright cósmico.
6. “Una Noche Más” by Jennifer Lopez
There’s no way this list would be complete without J.Lo in the mix, and while the triple threat has a slew of 90s and 2000s hits that could make it (not to mention movies we still watch like “Maid in Manhattan” and “Monster in Law”), “Una Noche Más” beats out all the rest. The Spanish version of “Waiting for Tonight,” this song’s clubby, techno-driven beat and echoed, pop vocals make it bubblegum pop turned Latino anthem. As per Chicago Tribune, this “excellent” song made her the top dance-pop singer in 1999, and it’s still as infectious as the first time we heard the characteristic “oh’s.”
7. “A Puro Dolor” by Son by Four
While most of the songs we remember from the early aughts are tinged with happy, peppy nostalgia, there are a few exceptions. While anything sad, sappy, and perfect by Mexican pop band Camila can fit right in too (especially “Todo Cambió”), Puerto Rican Son by Four’s “A Puro Dolor” is musical gold. From the start, lead singer Ángel Lopez’s voice hits us right in the heartstrings, singing the immediately-recognizable opening lyrics: “perdona si te estoy llamando en este momento, pero me hacía falta escuchar de nuevo, aunque sea un instante, tu respiración.” We’re not crying, you’re crying. Even better? There’s a salsa version you can play at Nochebuena this year.
8. “Dile” by Don Omar
Another reggaeton banger we’ll never forget, Don Omar’s “Dile” hit all of Latinoamérica in 2003 with a mix of surprise, shock, and yes, I’ll have some more of that thank you. Serving as an introduction to dembow for countless people in the early aughts, listeners couldn’t help catching on to perreo after this song’s release. All about asking someone to tell their partner they actually like you more (yeah, it went there), this bop is catchy, tongue-in-cheek, and features that unforgettable “otra, otra noche, otra, cuéntale, cuéntale” chorus. Still played at clubs, weddings, and parties today as a reggaeton classic, we associate this one with other staples like “Rakata” by Wisin y Yandel, and of course, “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee.
9. “Perdóname” by La Factoría
Last but not least, possibly the biggest Latino 2000s hit of all time: La Factoría’s “Perdóname,” a song that describes a man cheating on his partner, begging for forgiveness. A story as old as time, this song made the trope new again with vocals from Panamanian duo Demphra and Joysi Love, plus reggaetonero Eddy Lover. With almost 200 million plays on Spotify today, this song is underrated yet perfect, and will always get us with lyrics like “no te importó si yo comía o sufría, o se partía en dos mi corazón.” Excuse us while we play this just around 20 times tonight.
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