entertainment

These Spanish-Language Albums Changed The Face And Feel Of The Music Industry

Los de atras vienen conmigo / Sony Music Latin / Celia & Johnny / Vaya

Whenever anyone dares to write a list of the most influential albums of all time, there are generally detractors who come up in arms. We do not wish to upset anybody with this selection of amazing albums, though. We just want to show you the depth and breath of the music that has come out of Latin America and out of the Latino diaspora in the United States. It is pretty easy to listen to all of these, so fire up your Spotify, get your headphones on and just let yourself go.

Música maestro.

“Re” by Cafe Tacvba

Year released: 1994

Genre: rock mexicano

Credit: R-4391373-1363636582-9482.jpeg.jpg. Digital image. Discogs

Widely regarded as the best Mexican rock album ever released, this masterpiece has been appreciated by people like Madonna. The album borrows from genres such as danzon and Tex-Mex music and produces indelible sounds that will make you laugh, dance and cry.

“Dónde están los ladrones?” by Shakira

Year released: 1998

Genre: Rock en español

Credit: R-5843968-1439639530-5572.jpeg.jpg Discogs. Digital image.Discogs.

Before she told us that her hips don’t lie and became a world phenomenon, Shakira released this mellow album that revealed her talent as a songwriter. She was young, beautiful and intelligent, a true example of the power of Latina women.

“Siembra” by Willie Colón y Rubén Blades

Year released: 1978

Genre: Salsa

Credit: Siembra-Colón-Blades. Digital image. Revista Replicante

It is not often that true legends collaborate. The New York native Willia and Blades from Panama released this album, which includes the classic “Pedro Navajas,” a true masterpiece that is violent and joyful at once.

“Una década” by Rubén Blades

Year released: 2003

Genre: Salsa

Credit: Una-década-Blades. Digital image. Revista Replicante

This is an amazing collection with Blades’ recordings from the 1990s. What makes him special is the skillful combination of musical skill and social commentary in the poignant lyrics.

“Tijuana Sessions Vol. I” by Nortec Collective

Year released: 2001

Genre: Electronic

Credit: 64. Digital image. Lado B.

This duo from the border city of Tijuana really got what it means to live in a liminal zone that is equally influenced by Anglo and Latino cultures. The result is as enigmatic as, say, Radiohead’s “OK Computer.” A real masterpiece that will make you fly.

“Leche” by Fobia

Year released: 1993

Genre: Latin Rock

Credit: 81. Digital image. Lado B.

The intellectual offspring of the likes of Lou Reed and David Bowie. The front singer Leonardo de Lozane held an enigmatic, androgynous vibe. This album is like a shot of tequila: kitsch, yet punchy. 

“Mucho barato” by Control Machete

Year released: 1997

Genre: Hip Hop

Credit: 41. Digital image. Lado B.

The precursors of hip hop south of the Border. This album was revolutionary: as angry as Rage Against the Machine, yet using Spanglish in newfound ways that touched the vulgar and poetic.

“Chavela Live at Carnegie Hall” by Chavela Vargas

Year released: 2003

Genre: Ranchera

Credit: MI0001307534. Digital image. All Music

Chavela Vargas was a revolutionary on many fronts. She was one of the first openly queer personalities in Latin American music, and she revived her career well into her golden years. This album is a live performance in the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York: it is the stuff legends and dreams are made of.

“Adios Nonino” by Astor Pizzolla

Year released: 1969

Genre: Tango

Credit: 50-latin-albums-46.-astor-piazolla-y-su-quinteto-adios-nonino-1969-billboard-500×500 (1). Digital image. Billboard

After Carlos Gardel, Astor Piazzolla is perhaps the most representative tango musician in history. He revolutionized tango by giving the classic Argentinian and Uruguayan genre a modern twist. His accordion is damn sexy, the stuff that makes the blood and passions pump.

“Buena Vista Social Club” by Ry Cooder, Compay Segundo, Ruben Gonzalez, Eliades Ochoa and Ibrahim Ferrer

Year released: 1997

Genre: Son cubano

Credit: 50-spanish-language-albums-18.buena-vista-social-club-buena-vista-social-club-billboard-500×500. Digital image. Billboard

This is the soundtrack for Wim Wenders now-legendary film that follows a group of Cuban musicians. The album smells of rum, cigars and sunset at Havana. The album is groundbreaking because it helped Western countries get acquainted with the complexity of Latin music.

“El circo” by La Maldita Vecindad

Year released: 1991

Genre: Urban rock / danzon

Credit: 18. Digital image. Lado B.

One of the great ways in which Latin American culture has pushed back against foreign cultural influence is of course music. This album tells everyday sad, courageous and unbelievable stories from Mexico City. From kids who live in the sewers to a bar where the saddest souls in the city dance, this is a true joya that mixes traditional and modern genres. “Kumbala” is one of the best songs ever written, period.

“Mundo Colombia” by Celso Piña

Year released: 2002

Genre: Cumbia

Credit: 51OKb1oU4CL._SX466_. Digital image. Amazon.

The great Celso is a musician from Monterrey, Mexico, who has nevertheless become one of the leading cumbia musicians. The genre is originally from Colombia, so in this album Celso offers an homage to the ritmos sabrosos of Colombian lands.

“Nada personal” by Soda Stereo

Year released: 1985

Genre: Rock argentino

Credit: 65. Digital image. Lado B.

We could argue that this band led by the late Gustavo Cerati was even better than Anglo groups like Duran Duran. This album is all energy and 1980s vibe. New Wave sounds that are still listed to by Latin American youth.

“Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo

Year released: 1998

Genre: Merengue

Credit: 50-spanish-language-albums-17.elvis-crespo-suavemente-billboard-500×500. Digital image. Billboard

Suavemente, besame…. we are sure you have listened to this song at a wedding or at unos quince. Crespo brought Merengue to the mainstream and that is something that will never be taken away from him.

“Cielo de tambores” by Grupo Niche

Year released: 1990

Genre: Cumbia/salsa

Credit: R-5071556-1454493188-1038.jpeg. Digital image. Discog.

Perhaps the most influential Colombian album of all time. This album is energetic and sounds like the dark roast of Colombian coffee. Con sangre y con sudor su historia escribio.

“Secretos” by José José

Year released: 1983

Genre: Ballad

Credit: 50-spanish-language-albums-27.-jose-jose-secretos-billboard-500×500. Digital image. Billboard.

The Mexican Frank Sinatra. This album is the epitome of his estilo llegador: songs like “El Amor Acaba” and “Lagrimas” will play in the late hours of the night while you sip a tequila and think of amores perdidos.

“En cico en la cárcel de Santa Martha” by El Tri

Year released: 1989

Genre: Rock mexicano

Credit: 19. Digital image. Lado B.

Just like Johnny Cash did in Saint Quentin and other prisons, the legendary band El Tri (think of a Mexican version of The Ramones) played for the inmates, creating one of the most lively records in the history of Latin American rock.

“Celia & Johnny” by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco

Year released: 1974

Genre: Salsa

Credit: 50-spanish-language-albums-14.celia-cruz-celia-johnny-billboard-500×50. Digital image. Billboard

Every legend has a beginning, and this was it for Celia Cruz, the absolute queen of salsa. Azuuuuuuucar!

“Bachata Rosa” by Juan Luis Guerra y sus 4.40

Year released: 1990

Genre: Bachata

Credit: 94756091. Digital image. Toda coleccion.

This Dominican legend took pop music by storm with songs like “Burbujas de amor”. Quisiera ser un pezzzzz.

“Los de atras vienen conmigo” by Calle 13

Year released: 2008

Genre: Raeggeton

Credit: 50-spanish-language-albums-5.-calle-13-los-de-atras-vienen-conmigo-billboard-500×500. Digital image. Billboard.

Residente and Visitante poured it all in this album, which is fun to listen to, but also contains some very punchy and politically incendiary lyrics.

“La espada y la pared” by Los Tres

Year released: 1995

Genre: Rock chileno

Credit: 56. Digital image. Lado B.

This Chilean band mixes rock, jazz, and cueca, a traditional genre of the indigenous peoples of Chile. This album was one of the first to be produced after Pinochet’s dictatorship and the energy is palpable: a new era of freedom was coming.


READ: Country Music Is Losing Steam As Latin Music Experienced Major Growth In Popularity Last Year

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You Have To Check Out These Spanish-Language Movies On Netflix Right Now

entertainment

You Have To Check Out These Spanish-Language Movies On Netflix Right Now

Verónica / Netflix

There is no question about it: streaming, like Netflix, has revolutionized the entertainment industry. All of a sudden, we have hundreds of movies within reach. Navigating the Netflix catalog can sometimes be overwhelming and frustrating, especially if you are looking for very specific content.

Want to watch something in Spanish? No hay bronca, te ayudamos. Here’s a list of 21 films that are totally worth watching and that span horror, action, romance, drama, and every single genre imaginable. Going through this list is a good chance to get acquainted both with the cinema of Latin America and Spain, and the movies that are being produced by Netflix itself. So dig in.

These titles are available on Netflix in the United States as of February 2019.

“Pickpockets” (Carteristas)

Country: Colombia

Director: Peter Webber

Year released: 2018

Credit: Pickpockets / Netflix

A sort of modern-day Oliver Twist-like tale. This film set in Bogota tells the story of two teens who wish to become successful pickpockets. Of course, we can see how trickery and deception can lead to tragedy.

“Perdida”

Country: Argentina

Director: Alejandro Montiel

Year released: 2018

Credit: Perdida / Netflix

Give us a strong female lead anytime. The story of an Argentinian cop who tries to solve the mystery of her best friend’s murder is pure horror. The snowy background of Patagonia gives the film an uncanny feeling that is hard to shake off.

“A Twelve-Year Night” (La noche de 12 años)

Country: Uruguay

Director: Alvaro Brechner

Year released: 2018

Credit: A Twelve-Year Night / Netflix

A claustrophobic but ultimately inspiring biopic about Pepe Mujica, a political activist who was imprisoned for more than a decade during the military dictatorship, but who would eventually become president. Our own Latino Nelson Mandela.

Remastered “Massacre at the Stadium” (Masacre en el estadio)

Country: Chile

Director: Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt

Year released: 2019

Credit: Massacre at the Stadium / Netflix

Victor Jara was one of the most beloved singer-songwriters in Latin America, as well as a fierce leftist. He died or perhaps was killed on the eve of the Pinochet years in Chile. This documentary delves into his disappearance.

“How to Get Over a Breakup” (Soltera Codiciada)

Country: Peru

Directors: Bruno Ascenzo, Joanna Lombardi

Year released: 2018

Credit: How to Get Over a Breakup / Netflix

Peruvian cinema is quite scarce. Few films get funded and when they do they are generally brainy arthouse movies. This is why Netflix is changing the rules of the game, producing genre pieces like this funny, if average, romantic comedy. A copywriter in Lima searches for answers in a blog written for single women and becomes an online celeb.

“Residente”

Country: United States

Director: Residente

Year released: 2017

Credit:  Residente / Paraiso Pictures

The front singer of the iconic Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 takes a DNA test and then embarks on a worldwide trip in search of his roots. A poignant and hopeful film about what makes us alike, rather than what makes us different.

“Even the Rain” (También la lluvia)

Country: Spain / Bolivia

Director: Icíar Bollaín

Year released: 2010

Credit: Even the Rain / Alebrije Cine y Video

This film is an intense look at the past and present processes of colonization. A film crew is shooting a movie about the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. They are shooting it in Bolivia, where corporations are trying to steal people’s access to water. Past and present oppression collide in this Oscar-nominated film.

“Ayotzinapa, el paso de la tortuga”

Country: Mexico

Director: Enrique Garcia Meza

Year released: 2018

Credit: Ayotzinapa, el paso de la tortuga / Salamandra Producciones

Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, this documentary tells the story of the disappearance of the 43 students in Guerrero, Mexico. Was it the army, was it the cartels? No one seems to know a definite answer.

“Verónica”

Country: Spain

Director: Paco Plaza

Year relased: 2017

Credit: Verónica / Netflix

This Spanish horror film is truly shocking and this comes as no surprise as the director is a longstanding figure in the genre. Ay, nanita!

“The Skin of the Wolf” (Bajo la piel del lobo)

Country: Spain

Director: Samu Fuentes

Year released: 2017

Credit: The Skin of the Wolf / Netflix

The plot line is as problematic as it sounds: a lonesome hunter buys a wife so he can feel less alone. Damn, some pretty wrong stuff here. The movie, however, is an interesting study on human relations and the eternal struggle of man vs. nature.

“The Perfect Dictatorship” (La dictadura perfecta)

Country: Mexico

Director: Luis Estrada

Year released: 2014

Credit: The Perfect Dictatorship / Bandidos Films

Luis Estrada has built a career of offering us comedies that seem like reality. Here, he spares no bullets in denouncing corruption in the Mexican government.

“The Desert Bride” (La novia del desierto)

Country: Argentina

Directors: Cecilia Atán, Valeria Pivato

Year released: 2017

Credit: The Desert Bride / Ceibita Films

The story of a woman in her mid-50s who was a domestic worker in Buenos Aires and basically had no life of her own beyond servicing her employers. What does life have in store for her in her hometown in the country?

“Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes” (Pizza, Birra, Faso)

Country: Argentina

Director: Bruno Stagnaro

Year released: 1998

Credit: Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes / Instituto Nacional de Cine y Arte Audiovisuales

A heist movie, a genre that was pretty much in fashion during the late 1990s after the release of indie films in the U.S. like Reservoir Dogs. This crime drama set in Buenos Aires tests the limits of friendship and loyalty.

“México Bárbaro”

Country: Mexico

Directors: Isaac Ezban, Laurette Flores Bornn, Jorge Michel Grau, Ulises Guzman, Edgar Nito, Lex Ortega, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Aaron Soto

Year released: 2014

Credit: México Bárbaro / LuchaGore Production.

Eight tales of horror and the supernatural that take place in Mexico. The directors are skillful in providing chills while dealing with the violence that is affecting the country.

“Patria”

Country: Mexico

Director: Matías Gueilburt

Year released: 2019

Credit: Patria / Netflix

Writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II explores a key moment in Mexico’s political history: the mid to late nineteenth century. Yes, sounds like a snoozefest, but it isn’t: the commentary is lively and it makes history quite entertaining, just like the best documentaries.

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (El laberinto del fauno)

Country: Mexico / Spain

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Year released: 2006

Credit: Pan’s Labyrinth / Wild Bunch, Tequila Gang

Perhaps Guillermo Del Toro’s best movie. Set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the story mixes the horrors of war with the soothing fantasy world imagined by a girl.

“Time Share” (Tiempo compartido)

Country: Mexico

Director: Sebastian Hofmann

Year released: 2018

Credit: Time Share / Netflix

One of Netflix’s best Spanish-language originals. The film follows a father who brings his family to a resort where things are much more macabre than they seem. An allegory of the problems of corporate culture, which can be so similar to religious cults.

“Black Snow” (Nieve negra)

Country: Argentina

Director: Martin Hodara

Year released: 2017

Credit: Black Snow / Pampa Films

A family thriller set in the magnificent landscape of the Argentinian Patagonia, with one of the world’s best actors, Ricardo Darin, at the helm. What could go wrong?

“Y tu mamá también”

Country: Mexico

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Year released: 2001

Credit: Y tu mamá también / Twentieth Century Fox

Diego, Gael, Maribel. The three amazing actors and gorgeous humans embark on a road trip that will make them explore their emotional and sexual limits. A true classic of New Mexican Cinema.

“City of God” (Cidade de Deus)

Country: Brazil

Director: Fernando Meirelles

Year released: 2002

Credit: City of God / O2 Filmes

One of the best movies ever made, according to numerous film critics. This epic portrayal of the Rio favelas has been compared to Scorsese’s best crime grand narratives. Truly exceptional.

“Roma”

Country: Mexico

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Year released: 2018

Credit: Roma / Netflix

What else can we say about this instant classic? Ten Oscar nominations are just fair for this film of motherly love, historical magnitude, and tender artistry.


READ: 21 Reasons Why You Simply Must Watch Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-Nominated ‘Roma’

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  2. John says:

    You forgot LUIS MIGUEL'S ROMANCE which was the first Spanish album to go gold in the USA. It sold more than 20 million copies and literally resurrected the bolero genre