- 01. Por qué te vas - Jeanette Dimech
- 02. Can I learn Spanish with Music?
- 03. María - Ricky Martin
- 04. Hijo de la Luna - Mecano
- 05. The Best Way to Learn Spanish Song Lyrics
- 06. Despacito - Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee
- 07. Hasta Siempre - Nathalie Cardone
- 08. Camarero – Andra & Descemer Bueno
- 09. La Tortura - Shakira ft. Alejandro Sanz
- 10. How to Memorise Spanish Songs?
- 11. Bailando - Enrique Iglésias ft. Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona
- 12. La Camisa Negra - Juanes
- 13. Bamboleo - Gipsy Kings
- 14. Why Sing in Spanish?
- 15. What Music Should I listen to to Learn Spanish?
Whether you speak Spanish or not, Spanish-language music can make you dance or hum along to their catchy melodies.
Spanish or Hispanic music is becoming more and more popular, especially given the Latin rhythms from South and Central America and Spain.
In this article, we’re going to discuss using music as a tool to learn Spanish faster and better.
Along the way, we'll build a collection of popular Spanish songs that you can listen to in order to help with your Spanish. Make sure you add these tunes and songs to your Spotify or iTunes playlist.
Por qué te vas - Jeanette Dimech
Loosely translated to “Why are you leaving?”, the song Por qué te vas from 1974 is one of the most iconic Spanish-language songs of all time.
It was performed by Jeanette Dimech and made popular due to the film Cría Cuervos. It is a romantic song but it’s also sad.
The song is so popular that it’s been covered plenty of times.
- José Luis Perales in 1987.
- Attaque 77 in 1992.
- Pato Fu in 1996.
- Masterboy in 1999.
- Javier Alvarez in 2001.
- Sabine Paturel in 2002.
- Globus in 2006.
- Suarez in 2010.
- Marquess in 2014.
- Hot Banditoz in 2016.
- Lucero in 2017.
You might have even listened to the song in Spanish classes because it’s quite slow and great for beginners to listen to.
Want to learn more about Spain?
Check out our guide.
Can I learn Spanish with Music?
The best way to learn a language is to understand the culture it represents; in no way is a culture better represented than through its music.
From the vibrant beat of hip hop to the frenetic glee of Kpop – yes, even the fiery flavour of Spanish guitar gives a tantalising taste of what might await those daring enough to speak and understand their language.
Any language teacher will tell you that music and songs sung in that language will definitely boost your learning. This is not mere hype.
Studies have shown that students who listen to songs in their target language are better able to absorb its rhythm and syntax. Later, as they are able to discern individual words, singing along serves a pronunciation practice.
Indeed, as we sing, we are less conscious of pronunciation pitfalls. We let our love of music take over, abandoning all attempts at wrangling our English accent into something that sounds like classroom Spanish.
That’s good news for our pronunciation but what does singing Spanish songs do for vocabulary learning?
You may find that your Spanish vocabulary is richer for all of the words you hear in songs that don’t feature in your language classes.
Song lyrics tend to be less formal if not downright colloquial. They incorporate a lot of slang and informal expressions that you might not encounter until much later in your language lessons.
They also include a lot of double entendres; phrases with two meanings, one of them usually quite suggestive. A great example of such is the song Macarena.
The first line of the song’s chorus, “Dale a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena” translates to “Macarena, give your body some pleasure”.
The song is about a woman who was unfaithful to her lover… but the name itself comes from the Virgin of Hope of Macarena – who is known as La Macarena. Yes, you remember correctly: that is the name of the dance.
The song Macarena, from the Andalusian duo Los del Rio, was a smash hit in 1993. It spawned a dance craze that swept the world that year but enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the US Democratic National Convention in 1996, when dancing delegates were captured on film, enticing the crowds.
Still today, you only need to hear the song’s opening bars to stampede the dance floor; even the instrumental version will get your hips gyrating!
Footnote: some proclaim the name Macarena to have Greek origins, in which case the name means ‘happy’… a feeling any Macarena singer experiences.
Any way you slice it, Spanish songs are a great way to boost your language learning.
Whether you train your ear to pick out individual words or sing along to mimic the accent and fluency of the language, you cannot go wrong with using music to learn Spanish.
María - Ricky Martin
¡Un, dos, tres!
You’ve probably heard the Spanish song María by Ricky Martin. In 1995, this was the star’s first real hit. It reached number 6 in the UK charts.
While the lyrics aren’t very profound, some may remember the chorus:
“Un, Dos, Tres
Un pasito palante Maria
Un, Dos, Tres
Un pasito patras”
Even in 2019, you can’t help but dance to this tune. Gracias, Ricky!
It may surprise you to know that Ricky Martin still has Spanish-language hits to this day!
Hijo de la Luna - Mecano
Hijo de la Luna is a 1986 hit performed by the Spanish group Mecano. Considered one of the most beautiful Spanish songs, it’s also very melancholic.
In fact, the song is about a woman who asks the moon for a husband. The moon accepts this on the condition that she sacrifice her first child. However, the child who’s born resembles neither the father nor the mother so the father, enraged that the mother cheated on him, stabs her. He abandons the child who’s collected by the moon.
Hijo de la Luna was covered over 40 times in different countries.
Not your typical hit...
The Best Way to Learn Spanish Song Lyrics
The obvious advantage of learning Spanish through music is that your ear will become attuned to the spoken language.
Your Spanish textbooks may have an associated online portal or a DVD that you could access level-appropriate listening material through. Such tools are a double-edged sword.
It’s both good and bad that these recordings are level-targeted.
Uncluttered by verb tenses, words and syntax you do not yet know, such soundbites expose you to no more language than you are presumably able to handle while drilling deep into the mechanics of the Spanish language.
While some might consider that a strategy for thorough learning, others might contend that such pedantry will rapidly lead to boredom with language study.
By incorporating Spanish songs into your training routine, you can have the best of both worlds!
Your textbooks’ companion listening materials provide valuable if limited information on which to build further study. To invoke a common practice in sports broadcasting, let’s call this the ‘play by play’ aspect of language learning.
Music represents the reasons you so want to learn Spanish: it is fiery, passionate and expressive. It rolls off the tongue in a mellifluous wave, rolled Rs notwithstanding. It is the world’s second-most spoken language and speaking it represents doors of opportunity (for work and travel) flung wide.
Spanish music is the flipside of play-by-play; it represents the ‘colour’ of sports broadcasting.
To bring colour into your language learning, simply:
- listen to songs sung in Spanish
- choose a few that you particularly like
- print or write out those songs’ lyrics
- writing them by hand will help you to remember them faster!
- follow along as you listen
Once you have those songs mastered, repeat the process with a new group of songs.
Another excellent exercise for learning Spanish is to translate song lyrics. Follow the steps outlined above but, as you copy each line, leave a blank line beneath it so you can write its translation.
If you are just beginning to learn this Romance language, you may not be able to convert many of your favourite songs’ words into English. That’s perfectly fine; simply plug the English version of the words you know into the blank lines beneath their Spanish counterparts.
As you learn more Spanish vocabulary, you will be able to translate more words until the whole song has a complement of English words.
We strongly urge you to not use translation software for this endeavour!
In the long run, nobody has ever benefited from being given all of the answers. You may learn what your favourite songs are saying but you will not learn how to speak or understand Spanish any faster if ‘translate’ does your work for you.
Besides, how will you know the translation is accurate?
Despacito - Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee
We couldn’t ignore this tune even if we tried. Despacito is the most popular song of 2017 and its success can still be felt today. On YouTube, the video has racked up over 6 billion views!
The song left its mark on music history and was played on almost every radio. The title basically means “slowly” or “softly” and describes the physical attraction between two people from dancing and other stuff...
Listening to this song is a good opportunity to practise a few Spanish words. Additionally, Luis Fonsi’s voice will want you to get up and dance right from the first line.
Check out our brief guide to Spain's history.
Hasta Siempre - Nathalie Cardone
You may have already heard this song in a Spanish class! Hasta Siempre, which literally means “forever”, is a song which was written in 1965 by Carlos Puebla and performed many times by different artists. The most famous version is the 1999 version by Nathalie Cardone.
The song is about Che Guevara, the hero of the Cuban revolution. Guevara is glorified for his actions and speeches on liberty. His words still live on in the spirit of the Cuban revolution:
“Aqui se queda la clara
La entranable transparencia
De tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara”
The song’s title echoes Che’s slogan: Hasta la victoria siempre.
It’s been covered many times and translated into many different languages.
Camarero – Andra & Descemer Bueno
Waiter (translation for camarero) is a story of disappointment in love set to surprisingly upbeat, utterly danceable music.
Released in June of 2019, Camarero pegged millions of YouTube views. The song’s almost-thoughtful Spanish guitar opening belies the liveliness to come and Andra’s voice hides an even bigger secret.
Alexandra Irina Maruta, known as Andra, is neither Spanish nor Latina but… Romanian!
Still, her Spanish accent and rolled Rs are spot-on and her delivery is crisp; each word is clearly identifiable even to minimally trained ear.
Her partner in collaboration, Descemer Bueno, is a jazz and bachata musician of Cuban origins. He sings his fair share of the song with equal fire and, should you be inclined to watch the video, you’ll see that his dance moves are just as well defined.
As you listen (and watch), you realise that the song is not all doom and gloom. Andra and Descemer go on to attest that, if you can only dance and sing, life’s burdens will seem lighter.
You can also check out some great Spanish series.
La Tortura - Shakira ft. Alejandro Sanz
Shakira needs no introduction.
She’s had plenty of hits over the years including Hips Don’t Lie and Loca. This song from 2005 is completely in Spanish.
This song tells a complicated and passionate love story. It’s a mix of Latin pop and reggaeton.
How to Memorise Spanish Songs?
If you are of a musical bent, you cannot help but feel the pull of Spanish music, with or without lyrics.
Everything from the flow of the lyrics to the passion of the music makes these songs among the most sought-after the world over and you can acquire the enviable skill of singing them, word for word, with just a little bit of effort.
Earlier, we revealed that translating lyrics is one of the best ways to learn Spanish songs. Why stop there?
Now that you have all of the words in front of you and understand what they mean, you can render them with all of the emotion they deserve.
Beginners can start by humming the melody, inserting the words they know in their proper place. If you’re a bit more advanced, you might go for repetition; a proven method of language learning.
Songs’ choruses tend to repeat with little to no change of words so focusing on those lyrics is a good place to start memorising your favourite songs. Join in whenever the artist intones; try to match them word for word and note for note.
Later, as you get comfortable with those song parts, feel free to venture into singing the verses. Don’t worry that you can’t quite keep up with those expressions, you’ll soon find that even those more convoluted phrases will come easily.
Make hefty use of pause/play.
The ability to follow the words that a singer belts out rapid-fire isn’t automatic; especially when hearing a song and/or seeing the words for the first time. You may find you need to ‘rewind’ a little to hear a particular lyric correctly.
As you advance in your Spanish singing ability, you may pause the song to sing an entire verse by yourself, intoning only the chorus while the recording plays.
You might not think that memorising Spanish songs is essential to your ability to learn your second language.
You may be right… but think of how much fun you could have at karaoke, singing along to Bad Bunny, Shakira or any of the other artists in this article...
Like these next few.
Bailando - Enrique Iglésias ft. Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona
With Enrique Iglésias singing this song in 2014, Bailando couldn’t be anything other than a hit across Latin America and the world.
With its alluring rhythm and easy-to-remember lyrics, this Spanish-language song even has an English-language version with Sean Paul. This song, like a lot of music, is about love and physical proximity...
“Yo quiero estar contigo, vivir contigo, Bailar contigo, tener contigo, Una noche loca, con tremenda loca” (I want to be with you, live with you, dance with you, spend a completely crazy night with you.)
The song was #1 in Spain but only reached #75 in the UK!
Check out who the most famous Spaniards are.
La Camisa Negra - Juanes
The Colombian singer is famous for their song “La Camisa Negra” (The Black Shirt). This song is about a man grieving over his relationship, which is why he’s wearing a black shirt.
The beautiful music lures you in with its mix of Colombian folklore and Latin pop. The song was problematic in Italy due to the fact that black shirts were often worn by the fascists. However, that didn’t stop the song from being successful elsewhere.
Bamboleo - Gipsy Kings
The Gipsy Kings are a group from the south of France that plays Andalusian music! The group is made up of Spanish and Gypsy musicians and their songs mix Latin pop and flamenco.
The song Bamboleo was a hit in 1987 across the world, especially in the United States of America where it reached 6th on the Billboard charts. The verses are inspired by a Venezuelan song and the chorus is that of Carmen Miranda’s song of the same name.
This song compares love to a frantic dance and calls upon you to live your life in the fullest way possible through joy and, of course, dancing.
Why Sing in Spanish?
There are plenty of artists who sing in Spanish.
Thanks to artists like Pitbull creating hit songs in Spanish, there's plenty of Latin and Spanish music becoming more popular in the English-speaking world. Additionally, the most popular songs are all available on iTunes, Spotify, or anywhere else you get your music from.
Long gone are the days where you have to hope your record store imports hit songs from other countries or that they chart and you can record the radio edit when it comes on the wireless.
While there's music like reggaeton, flamenco, merengue, and bachata that are usually in Spanish and an important part of Latin and Spanish culture, there are other genres of music that you can listen to in Spanish.
It doesn't matter whether you like pop songs, love songs, hip hop songs with sick beats, a singer-songwriter doing guitar music, folk, or Christmas songs, you can find tunes in Spanish. In fact, almost every genre of popular music exists in Spanish!
Additionally, a love song in Spanish is not only a great way to learn Spanish, it's also just enough to make your heart melt!
If you want to learn more about what the Spanish lyrics mean, you should get in touch with a private Spanish tutor.
On Superprof, there are three main types of tutorial available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Face-to-face tutorials are usually the most expensive but also the most cost-effective. This is a bespoke tutorial with a single student.
Online tutorials are similar but the tutor provides the tuition over webcam. With fewer travel expenses etc., the tutor can charge less for their tuition.
Finally, group tutorials tend to be the cheapest of the lot because there are multiple students all sharing the cost of the tutoring. That said, you'll get less individual attention from your tutor.
What Music Should I listen to to Learn Spanish?
It would be hard to give a good answer to this question without knowing your musical tastes and your level of Spanish.
All of the songs in this article are great for learning Spanish but you probably know a few Spanish-language songs that aren’t on this list.
That's why we've put together a list of some of this year’s top songs sung in Spanish.
Songs to Help You Learn Spanish
|Song Title||Artist(s)||Why We Like It|
|Yo Perreo Sola||Bad Bunny||Words are clearly spoken; song is not so fast|
|La Vida Es Un Carnaval||Celia Cruz||Has a flavour of past eras; lyrics aren't too complex|
|No Te Vayas||Mayel Jimenez||Slow pace, easy to follow|
|Grande Amore (Spanish version)||Il Volo||Slow-paced, multiple voices, heart-melting|
|Amarillo||J Balvin||A crisp rap, easy to pick up on|
|Búscame||Kany Garcia||A bit of Puerto Rican dialect to diversify your pure Castilian teachings|
|El Ropavejero||Los Sepultureros||Traditional Mexican style sung in easy-to-hear tempo and tone|
|Como Te Hago Entender||Roberto Roena||Easy to understand lyrics sung to a Bossa Nova beat|
|Bidi Bidi Bom Bom||Selena||Relaxed pace, clear words and too fun to only listen to once!|
|Suavemente||Elvis Crespo||Fast-paced with excellent rhythm, ideal for the advanced Spanish learner,|
Check them out... and, while you're at it, check some of the Spanish tutors on Superprof.
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