One thing is for sure no culture is pure. As the years go on, humans look to migrate to new homes and/or incorporate new skills from different cultures into their own. This mixture of backgrounds and identities, have given rise to a phenomenon called Spanglish, not only seen in the U.S. but also in Latin America and other parts of the world.This true marvel is not only heard in everyday conversations, but it also has a strong presence in music.
In celebration of this impure blend of societies, I have gathered some of the best Spanglish tunes – not those that have one word in English and Spanish and the rest in the other language, but those that take the time to use both predominantly.
From the hits, to the unknowns, to the unexpected ones, here are the 10 best Spanglish jams (in no particular order):
10. Leslie Grace – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is an original song recorded by The Shirelles in 1960 and the remake set of the singing career of Leslie Grace ablaze making her the youngest female artist to peak at No. 1 on Billboard’s Tropical songs and Latin Airplay.
9. Prince Royce – “Stand By Me”
“Stand By Me” is a classic 60s RnB by Ben E. King and in 2010 Royce made sure that every Latino in the U.S. knew it thanks to his Spanglish rendition. So whether you know just Spanish, just English or both, this is a song everyone can sing along to.
8. Carlos Vives – “Carito”
Back in 2001 Colombian singer Carlos Vives made us go wild with his Spanglish “Carito.” The song tells the story about his love for his English teacher to whom he can’t confess his feelings to because of the language barrier. This danceable vallenato is surely one for the ages.
7. The Clash – “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
For how many years have you rocked out to “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and never realized that the background mumble was actually Spanish?! This 1982 No. 1 hit by the English punk rock band, The Clash, is one of the most unexpected Spanglish songs of the bunch, but just for that, one of my favorites.
“I’m singing all the Spanish verses on that, and I even helped translate them,” said Texas musician and friend of the band Joe Ely during a 2012 interview with Songfacts. “I translated them into Tex-Mex and Strummer kind of knew Castilian Spanish, because he grew up in Spain in his early life. And a Puerto Rican engineer (Eddie Garcia) kind of added a little flavor to it.”
6. Romeo Santos – “Promise”
Back in 2011, Santos also decided to add a little RnB flavor to his bachata by bringing in one of the biggest names in the modern era, Usher. In 2011, he released “Promise” as the second single for his solo debut album, “Formula, Vol. 1,” and made even the non-bachata lovers fall in love with the genre.
5. Sie7e – So What”
In 2013, the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Sie7e sent out his positive message through the Spanglish tune “So What,” which tells us to simply be optimistic even with the day-to-day problems we all face. Unfortunately, you probably haven’t heard this song since because it wasn’t widely promoted, but I’m telling you, this Latin-reggae-funk fusion is pretty addictive and just the perfect feel-good song.
4. Pitbull – “I Know You Want Me”
In 2009, Pitbull came charging with “I Know You Want Me,” which made the singer an international hit. Although the video leaves something to be desired, it’s fair to note that this is one of the songs that fully embodies the essence of what Spanglish is – not only the mixture of two languages, but also of different cultures – because it’s a remix of the Brazilian song “75, Street Brazil” by Nicola Fasano and Pat Rich, which originally sampled “Street Player” by Chicago, which is a remake of “Street Player” by Rufus and Chaka Khan.
3. Mellow Man Ace – Mentirosa
Back in 1990, Cuban born rapper Mellow Man Ace, took hip-hop to the next level with “Mentirosa” a true Spanglish hit and the second track of his debut album, “Escape From Havana.”
2. Molotov – Frijolero
Of course if we’re talking Spanglish, political issues are also part of context and thanks to Mexican rock band Molotov, they are not only brought to light, but more like thrown in your face. In 2003 they came out with “Frijolero” a racially charged song about the Mexico-U.S. border. That year, the song won a Latin Grammy for Best Video.
1. Los Lonely Boys – “Heaven”
In 2004, the American Chicano rock trio had all of us asking: “How far is heaven?” with their Spanglish hit, “Heaven.” This Grammy award-winning tune is an infectious and unpretentious groove that not only mixes languages, but visually shows the blend of Mexican and American cultures.
What did you think of our picks, is there another song you would add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.