Although this holiday was heavily popularized by a well-known beer brand, Cinco De Mayo has helped in increasing recognition of Mexican traditions and our delicious culinary delicacies. However, the general American population still isn’t aware of how diverse our culture is.
One of those most amazing facets of our culture is its music! There are several popular genres spanning different regions of Mexico, such as Mariachi, Norteña, and Banda, just to name a few. But I’ve decided to curate this playlist using some of the most beloved classic songs of Mexican Rock and Alternative.
You will notice that most of Mexican and other Latinx rock contains some traditional sounds such as marimbas, flutes, mariachi, or even cumbia bits, as well as romantic-themed lyrics.
This was a tough playlist to curate. I’m sure I left lots of good bands out, and if you’re Mexican/Latin American, I apologize if any of the newest hits were not included—these are the main bands I primarily remember from my teen years. Send me a message if you have any recommendations for me to check out!
1. “No Dejes Que” - Caifanes/Jaguares
One of my favorite bands, Caifanes, who later split up and started all over again under the name Jaguares, is probably the most legendary rock band in Mexico. With slow and profound vocals, Jaguares has an impressive cult following. Check out other hits such as “Afuera,” “Matenme Porque Me Muero,” “Te Lo Pido Por Favor”... All of their music. I might as well have made the playlist just Caifanes’ music!
2. “Oye Mi Amor” - Mana
Another legendary group with a large trajectory in the world of Hispanic music, Mana’s music speaks of unrequited love and politics. They are also known to be environmentalists. It took a while for their music to grow on me, but once I began to truly listen to their messages, I appreciated these rock icons.
3. “Kumbala” - Maldita Vecindad
Maldita Vecindad is one of the most notable ska bands. I love this song because of how it begins and ends with such a mysterious tune. The last time I heard it in a public place was inside a coffee shop in San Francisco almost five years ago. I remember it clearly, because I had showed this song to someone just the night before!
4. “Dejame Entrar” - Moenia
Moenia was my favorite band for a good while. They’re more electronic. I remember having a silly argument with a classmate once over who liked Moenia the most. They no longer produce music but still perform together sometimes.
5. “Aló” - Plastilina Mosh
Plastilina Mosh is another electronica band. I love all of their hits, but this particular song stuck with me as it was part of the soundtrack of a very controversial Mexican film I ended up watching after getting my first movie-rental club card.
6. “Lento” - Julieta Venegas
My beautiful paisana became a hit by mixing her lovely voice with her accordion skills. With few female icons in rock and alternative, she immediately became one of my favorites when I was a teenager and enjoyed watching her music videos. I saw her twin sister crossing the street in Tijuana once and realized who she was after she didn’t respond to me calling “Julieta!” three times...
7. “Angel De Fuego” - Ely Guerra
My personal favorite from this rockera. She was deemed a rebel for shaving her head back in the ‘90s. I wish I had listened to her more during my teenage years.
8. “Hasta La Raiz” - Natalia LaFourcade
With her original band Natalia y La Forquetina, Natalia LaFourcade had us all singing back in high school with her catchy “En El 2000.” I had a notebook for writing down the lyrics of songs while I listened to them as a form of remembering them, and some of Natalia’s hits occupied several pages.
9. “Cita En El Quirófano” - Panda or Pxndx
It was around 2005 when the emo scene and music entered Mexico. All my friends were singing the dark, revenge-related lyrics of this band when we began to realize there were young, modern Latinx bands out there who were making alternative music for a teen audience.
10. “Eres” - Cafe Tacvba
Although Cafe Tacvba is mostly known for their ska songs, this pop ballad one is of the sweetest songs ever. As the romantic I’ve always been, the music video made me dream of love. Plus, I related as the middle-school uniform was very similar to mine!
Non-Mexican Latinx Rock Honorable Mentions
11. “Bolero Falaz” - Aterciopelados
I discovered Andrea Echeverri of Colombia after watching one of her music videos about an “Amortiguador” and was immediately captivated by her contralto voice and Bohemian look. I recently heard this song for the first time and played it a few times in a row because I find its sound so satisfying.
12. “De Musica Ligera” - Soda Estereo
Argentina has produced lots of good musicians. I can’t say enough to honor “De Musica Ligera,” which is probably the number-one classic Latinx Rock song, ever. Last year, Chris Martin from Coldplay interpreted the song at the end of their tour in Argentina to the public’s surprise and later said in a press conference that this song “defines Latin America.”