It’s so exciting to finally reveal our editors’ picks for the best Latin songs of the decade. A special shout out goes to Carl Chery for championing this initiative across all genres at Spotify and of course to the best team ever: Antonio Vásquez, Monica Damashek and Marylu Ramos. We had so much fun co-curating this. It was far from easy, but we hope you enjoy reminiscing on an incredible journey of music. As you listen, it’s hard not to feel proud of our culture, and the myriad textures and sounds that compose it. Gracias a los artistas por llevar por lo más alto nuestra cultura. Here’s to the next decade…it’s going to be good! Sound off in the comments: which songs do you agree with, which songs do you wish were there? We’re not afraid of a healthy debate.
I just want to share a few thoughts as I reflect on the past decade. This might get a little lengthy, but I’m a music nerd at heart and it’s fun to think as a journalist once again. Thank you for indulging me:
- Without question, “Despacito” is the juggernaut. It transcended language and borders as Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi (later assisted by Justin Bieber for the remix) led the entire world in singing the same 4 syllables while proudly waving the Puerto Rican flag. The “Conga” and “Livin La Vida Loca” of our generation but amplified by streaming into a musical revolution of epic proportions. There is simply no turning back.
- J Balvin’s “Mi Gente” featuring Willy William. The France-Colombia collab became an anthem for all people, everywhere, and elevated reggaeton to unprecedented heights.
- The most remarkably rapid ascent into superstardom goes to Bad Bunny, who went from bagging groceries to one of the hottest artists in the world seemingly overnight. Even Drake couldn’t resist jumping on a Bad Bunny track (“MIA,” 2018), proving why the Puerto Rican superstar’s appeal is “the new religion.”
- “I Like It” coined the “Latino Gang” movement. The trifecta of Cardi B, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny came together for a party vibe that was at once refreshing and familiar thanks to its clever sampling of boogaloo king Pete Rodriguez’s iconic 1967 song.
- The above examples are notable because the concept of collaboration ruled the Latin scene in the past decade, the bridging and blurring of styles, language, and cultures always amplifying the impact of a single song with a larger message of unification. Within the context of our politics, this is the most urgent and important message of our time.
- Much credit is due to “Danza Kuduro,” from one of the OGs of reggaeton, Puerto Rico’s own Don Omar, and featuring Portuguese-French artist Lucenzo. Released in 2010, it was way ahead of the curve in terms of collaborations amongst artists of different global cultures — a trend that shows no signs of slowing down in the next decade.
- The urban pop sounds of Puerto Rico and Colombia were ubiquitous in this decade (personified by the king of reggaeton, Daddy Yankee, and an artist who diligently studied the latter’s career, J Balvin). Both reached the milestone of becoming the #1 artist on Spotify —Daddy Yankee in 2017, making history as the first Latin artist to hold that title, and then Balvin in 2018.
- “Malamente” (2018) was the dose of futuristic flamenco fusion the world didn’t know it needed. With this track, an artist from across the pond, Rosalía, disrupted the music scene and let us know we can count on her to do exactly that for years to come. We predict she will own the next decade.
- Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida,” released in 2013, is more than a song about resilience; it’s a way of life and proves why salsa is possibly Latin music’s most timeless genre.
- The emergence of prominent female voices in the Latin urban space. Becky G, Natti Natasha, and Karol G are some of the women who rose to prominence this past decade and joined reggaeton pioneer Ivy Queen, once alone in the male dominated field of reggaeton.
- The story of Danny Ocean. He left his politically torn home country of Venezuela and relocated to Miami in search of a better life. It was in Miami that he wrote a song about a long distance relationship with a girl back home. That song was “Me Rehúso” (almost 900 million streams to date). Thanks to his success on Spotify, the once completely unknown artist was signed by Warner and keeps releasing great music today. He is the best example in the Latin world from this past decade of how anyone can find a massive global audience thanks to the right song and unified editorial support on the right platform. In 2017, after we discovered his single on the Central American viral charts, editors began programming the song locally in different markets. The success of the song at a local level allowed it to graduate to relevant genre playlists and top local hits playlists with a larger reach, eventually making it to Spotify’s top regional and global hits playlists, including Viva Latino. At the time Ocean said: “Spotify has changed my life and career, no doubt. I say this because of the reach my song has achieved, getting to the ears of people all over the world. Every artist wants their songs to be heard, that’s the most important thing to us, and Spotify has given me that great opportunity.”
Enjoy our Best Latin Songs of the 2010s playlist here. And when you’re done with that, check out our picks for the Best Latin Songs of 2019!
Angie interviews Alicia Menendez. Named “Broadcast Journalism’s New Gladiator” by Elle Magazine, “Ms. Millennial” by The Washington Post, and a “Content Queen” by Marie Claire, Alicia has quickly become a force in American media. She currently works as a co-host of Amanpour & Co., a global affairs show which airs on PBS and CNNi; and a contributing editor at Bustle, the largest media property for Millennial women. She is also the Host and Co-Executive Producer of the Latina to Latina podcast, currently in its second season.
Check out this episode!
Angie sits down with Serena Kim, editor in chief of Kore Asian Media (now called Character Media), the premiere lifestyle and media brand catering to the Asian American diaspora. Together they celebrate the incredible artistic achievements of the Asian community in 2018, including the success of Crazy Rich Asians, and discuss why it’s taken so long for Asians to have this lasting cultural moment in the mainstream, Kim’s own coming of age in an era of blatant racism, her inspiring contributions to music journalism, and the universal human quest for validation.
Check out this episode!
Angie sits down with her Desi sister from another mister, Smriti Mundhra, a brilliant filmmaker who won the Tribeca Film Festival’s Best New Documentary Director Award for her first film, A Suitable Girl. The doc follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Here, Mundhra opens up about her unique journey as an Indian American woman, using her voice to uplift her community and all women of color, and how her late father, the beloved Bollywood director Jag Mundhra continues to inspire the “wokeness” of her life and career.
Check out this episode!
This is by far one of the most special things I’ve ever had the chance to work on at Spotify. Check out this awesome recap from AdWeek on our Día de los Muertos celebration in honor of Mexican American icon Jenni Rivera.
In this episode, Angie interviews Deb Haaland, Democratic candidate for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. If she wins the House seat on Nov. 6th, Haaland, a proud member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, would make history as the first Native American woman to serve in Congress. A voice for women of color, single mothers, military families, the LGBTQ community, and anyone who feels marginalized, Haaland gets personal about what led to her a remarkable life in public service.
Check out this episode!
In the first-ever episode of The Hermanas Project, Angie sits down with a not-so-hidden figure in Hollywood (and her own personal mentor), Mimi Valdés. Currently the Chief Creative Officer for I Am Other, Pharrell Williams’ music and entertainment collective, Valdés opens up about her humble beginnings, her Afro-Latina identity, her journey from music journalist to one of the most influential storytellers of our time behind such films as the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures, and why she lives by the motto, “embrace the risky.”
Check out this episode!
Y’all know I love a good podcast, so it was only a matter of time until I created my very own one. Meet my new passion project, The Hermanas Project, a sisterhood of extraordinary women of color and allies.
The idea for The Hermanas Project, or THP for short, is to become a platform for those whose voices and contributions are so often marginalized — women of color — with the goal of empowering each other and younger generations to live out our dreams.
In the early stages of the project one word kept coming to me: “hermanas” (the Spanish word for sisters). And so it became clear: the Project would shine a light on extraordinary women of color and allies from every industry and bring us together through honest and meaningful conversations.
In each new episode of THP, available on Apple and Spotify, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories of creativity and courage from these amazing women. Season 1 of the podcast is out now.
Welcome to the sisterhood. We’re just getting started!
This one has been a long time coming but I’m excited to finally be able to share my latest project for Spotify: the Viva Latino Podcast!!!
It’s been so much fun to co-produce and co-host this with my fellow Spotifier, AJ “El Kallejero” Ramos. Together, we bring you that “arroz con pollo” flavor. Lots of fun conversations in Spanglish, music geekery, laughter, and yes, the occasional “Oprah” teary-eyed moment. In one episode of Season 1 in particular, we all got emotional with one of the biggest names in Latin music.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The Viva Latino podcast takes you behind the streams of Latin music’s biggest superstars, featuring insightful interviews and unique data stories behind today’s global Latin hits.
- This is a unique, audio-driven brand extension of Viva Latino—Spotify’s biggest Latin playlist globally. You can think of this as the “cousin” of the playlist.
- Season 1 launched on Nov. 30, with Jennifer Lopez as our first guest. YES. J.LO. JENNY FROM THE BLOCK. LA LOPEZ. I still can’t believe it. But yes, it happened. And now I can die happy. By the way, the JLo episode got a ton of press because she was her magical self and opened up about a bunch of stuff, including her relationship with Marc Anthony, the lasting legacy of Selena Quintanilla, her current view on love, her bucket list, the proudest moments of her musical career, and so much more. Here’s one article in particular that does it justice on E!.
- The podcast is currently available in the following territories: US, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay.
- Season 1 features interviews with J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, Anitta, Prince Royce, Becky G, Carlos Vives, Residente, Bomba Estéreo, Jesse & Joy, and Pablo Alborán.
So check it out here, be sure to FOLLOW IT so you don’t miss a single episode!!! Enjoy the amazing line-up we have for Season 1.
Shout out to everyone who made this possible: Natalie, Baron, Whitney, Andrew, Ayleen, William, Fred, Jack, and Rocio.
Thanks for listening!!!
It’s taken me a while to post on here again, but I can’t think of a better reason to come back and say something…
History has been made. A heartfelt congrats to the one & only Daddy Yankee, the #1 artist in the world on Spotify (and the first Latin artist to hold that position). Forgive me if I get a little sentimental but it seems appropriate…
From its inception, and much like hip hop, reggaeton was dismissed as a passing fad, a trend that would burn out. At times it retreated from the spotlight. Because frankly it needed to evolve, like most things. But it never disappeared. What DY and the other true pioneers of the genre have proven is that it was always supposed to be more than just fiesta, perreo & mucho dembow. These are the storytellers of a generation. And the first chapters of these stories were born out of the ghetto, depicting what it was like growing up in the caserios of Puerto Rico. It was raw and it was often not pretty. But it was real. The party vibes came much later, as DY will tell you. And it was one song in particular that busted down the doors for the world to pay attention. That song was “Gasolina.”
I’ll never forget a quote DY gave me during our first sit-down interview for Vibe magazine back in 2004. He told me that Nas was an MC he deeply admired and this next part I remember so clearly. He said: “Blacks and Latinos have the same struggles, in different languages.” So it’s no surprise, all these years later, that the spirit behind these musical movements, whether it be hip hop, reggaeton, etc, is indestructible, mainly because they had to fight for people’s respect. Now the world can’t seem to get enough but let’s not forget where it all started. Daddy Yankee’s journey to the top has been anything but an overnight one.
This is a win for DY, his formidable team, for Latin music & for everyone in the industry who continues to work hard to represent our culture through music.
Watch this video in which Yankee talks about what it means to be #1.
And also, be sure to check out DY’s “This Is” playlist on Spotify, with the best of his music.