The Top 10 Famous Mexican and Latin American Songs

The following tracks have left a permanent imprint in the history of Latin music. Their celebrated notes and lyrics have inspired several generations across the Latin world and beyond. In one way or the other, each one of these songs has been embraced by different artists, cultures, and music fans across the globe.

Besides this global appeal, the following compilation provides a good sample of the richness and diversity that surrounds Latin music. In fact, these songs belong to different genres ranging from bolero and bossa nova to tango and traditional musical expressions from the Americas.

Younger generations may be unfamiliar with some of these songs. However, not a single contemporary hit could even match the impact and influence of any of the following tracks. From "La Bamba" to "Oye Como Va," the following are the top 10 Latin songs of all time.

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'La Bamba'

Ritchie Valens
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

This is one of the most famous Mexican folk songs in history. Its title relates to a traditional wedding dance from Veracruz, Mexico. In spite of this origin, "La Bamba" became a worldwide sensation with the rock 'n' roll version recorded in 1958 by the legendary Mexican-American singer Ritchie Valens. In 1987, the popular band Los Lobos recorded the most well-known version of this song for the movie "La Bamba." It went to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart that year, staying there for three weeks of its 21-week chart run. The soundtrack to the movie went double platinum. Valenz's recording just hit No. 22 in 1959.

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'El Condor Pasa': Daniel Alomia Robles

Peru pan flute
Derek E. Rothchild / Getty Images

One of the most popular styles of traditional Latin music is the South American genre known as Andean music. Out of all the songs in this field, the Peruvian track "El Condor Pasa" is by far the most famous one. This beautiful song gained lots of exposure around the world with the famous English version recorded by Simon & Garfunkel. It hit No. 18 on the Hot 100 in 1970 and was on their "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album, which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 and sold 8 million copies.

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Celia Cruz
Michael Putland / Contributor / Getty Images

"Guantanamera" is probably the most famous Cuban song ever written. Although the controversy surrounding its authorship has never been resolved, it is widely believed the lyrics of this song were inspired by the writings of the Cuban poet and hero Jose Marti. The song's most famous version belongs to the legendary Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, though the Sandpipers took it to No. 9 on the Hot 100 in 1966.

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'Libertango': Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla

Milan Records

Back in 1955, a talented Argentine bandoneon player named Astor Piazzolla introduced the so-called nuevo tango, a music style influenced by jazz that changed forever the sounds of traditional tango. Astor Piazzolla and his invention took the world by storm, and his single "Libertango" came to define the sounds of contemporary tango. This instrumental track offers some of the most suggestive notes ever written in Latin music.

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'Historia de un Amor': Carlos Eleta Almaran

Historia de un Amor

Procom Discos

Although this bolero track is often regarded as one of the most romantic songs ever recorded in Latin music, the story behind this timeless hit is quite sad. The Panamanian songwriter Carlos Eleta Almaran wrote this song to cheer up his brother after the death of his wife. "Historia de un Amor" is one of those songs that probably every single Latin artist has sung at some point. Definitely, an all-time hit.

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'El Manisero': Moises Simons

The Peanut Vendor


Known in English as "The Peanut Vendor," this song is another jewel from Cuba. The legendary Cuban singer Rita Montaner recorded it for the first time back in 1927. Thanks to this track, Afro-Cuban Audiences all over the world were exposed to rumba. Apart from the famous recordings of the 1930s, "El Manisero" was also played by famous jazz musicians including Stan Kenton and Louis Armstrong.

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'The Girl From Ipanema': Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes

The Girl From Ipanema


"The Girl From Ipanema" is the most famous bossa nova piece from the fruitful collaboration between Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, two of the most influential Brazilian artists in history. Known in Portuguese as "Garota de Ipanema," this song became a worldwide sensation with the 1963 version produced by Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, and Astrud Gilberto. "The Girl From Ipanema" has been recorded by some of the most famous stars in the world, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Madonna. It hit No. 5 on the Hot 100 in 1964 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary Billboard chart.

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'La Cucaracha'

La Cucaracha


Who has not heard this one? "La Cucaracha" is one of the most iconic melodies ever produced in Latin music. A traditional folk corrido, the true origins of this song are unknown. However, we do know "La Cucaracha" played an important role during the Mexican Revolution as a song with hidden political messages. Famous artists like Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, The Gipsy Kings, and Los Lobos have recorded this song.

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'Besame Mucho': Consuelo Velazquez

Besame Mucho


The Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velazquez wrote this romantic bolero back in 1940. It is widely considered one of the most romantic songs ever produced in Latin music. This single has been recorded by artists from every corner of the planet, including legendary stars such as The Beatles, Dave Brubeck, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Sammy Davis Jr., among many more. Some of the Latin music artists who have interpreted this memorable track include megastars such as Julio Iglesias, Luis Miguel, Placido Domingo, Caetano Veloso, and Damaso Perez Prado.

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'Oye Como Va': Tito Puente

Tito Puente
Gilles Petard/Redferns/Getty Images

"Oye Como Va" is another iconic song in Latin music. Even though this track was originally recorded in 1963 by the legendary mambo and Latin Jazz musician Tito Puente (an American), "Oye Como Va" gained most of its worldwide appeal with the 1970 version recorded by the famous guitarist Carlos Santana (Mexican-born American). Santana's "Abraxas" album, containing the song, hung out at No. 1 for six weeks (88 Billboard charting weeks) and has sold 5 million copies. This song was inspired by "Chanchullo," a track produced by Cuban musician Israel 'Cachao' Lopez.