Music is a universal language that taps into a vital element of the human experience — feeling the feels. With very few spaces for people to positively indulge over moments of heartbreak, sorrow, and grief, it is no surprise that slow jams by Selena and Romeo Santos’ heart-wrenching bops transcend language barriers. So much so that music and music therapy is a legitimate practice used to aid those unable to express themselves verbally. For BIPOC mental health specialists, music therapy has been noted as an unorthodox yet entirely natural therapeutic relief for BIPOC, as most of our cultures are grounded in music. Co-founder of the Latin American Music Therapy Network and music therapist at Esperanza Academy, Cynthia Pimentel Koskela revealed how her students garnered valuable skill sets through the practice specifically for Latinx folks during the ongoing pandemic. “It provided a space for students to process their feelings, nurture resiliency and navigate online learning during a traumatic event… I firmly believe that la música es como vapor para el corazón (music is like vapor rub for the heart),” she tells HipLatina.
While therapy is not always accessible for BIPOC, sometimes it just takes a tear-jerking slow jam to remind us to feel the feels. So here we’ve listed some of our favorite bilingual songs that instantly put us in our sad girl feelings in just the right way. Whether you know the languages or scarcely know the lyrics, here are 5 Spanglish songs that tug at our hearts.
“Promise” by Romeo Santos featuring Usher
Crowned El Rey de la Bachata (The King of Bachata), Romeo Santos’ “Promise” featuring Usher would be a smash hit for lovers across the world. Released in 2011 and a little just before the wave of bilingual duets would be a pop culture phenomenon, “Promise” talks of a love so deep and at times frightening you hope your partner will promise to love you forever. With Usher’s soulful voice and Romeo’s lovesick lyricism, “Promise” strikes at the weary emotions of falling in love and wanting to be loved in return.
“I Could Fall in Love” by Selena
Within one of the first Spanish-language albums to debut atop the United States Billboard 200, “I Could Fall in Love” by Selena touches on feelings of desire, love, and rejection. Adored for her Tejano music and remarkable voice, Selena expresses a universal longing for love but the wavering sentiment of what love looks like after being intimate with someone. This track is a coming-of-age song that explores rejection and desire from a woman’s perspective and oozes with emotion thanks to her heartfelt vocals. Selena’s entire discography is filled with romantic ballads encompassing all the emotions within love like the equally heart-wrenching song, “No Me Queda Más.”
“Telepatía” by Kali Uchis
Whether on TikTok or ranking the Billboard charts, “Telepatía” by Kali Uchis is the Spanglish song of the summer that keeps us mesmerized by the soft-spoken words of the Colombian-American artist. The single is featured on her second studio album and first Spanish album, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios). Kali yearns for the physical connection of her lover, and yet she can only imagine how they could telepathically be together. Noting how their connection has transcended the physical, Kali touches upon forbidden love and sometimes an infatuation that can make us uneasy with reality.
“Gallo Pinto” by Daniela Andrade
Daniela Andrade is an alternative indie artist of Honduran descent that expresses her truth as a Latinx woman about the American dream through her song “Gallo Pinto”, a traditional dish from Central America. The track is Daniela’s story of woman empowerment and the encouraging reminder to continue to chase one’s dreams despite our feelings of defeat. The song pulls at the immigrant story of most Latinx folks in America who migrate to the states with little to nothing showcasing a dichotomous undertone to Andrade’s lullaby sound and the warrior spirit within the lyrics.
“Cuando Volverás” (English Version) by Aventura
Aventura, the next generation of bachateros, echoed the old school genre of Bachata while incorporating real-life stories of sorrow and love with a New York City Spanglish twist. Served as a bonus track from their debut album, Generation Next, “Cuando Volverás” is a young boy’s aching heartbreak over a girl that has left him blindsided. With the dramatic resonance of the instruments and the then lead of the group, Romeo Santos’, city boy vernacular, “Cuando Volverás” is a song that allows us to reminisce on young puppy love and the unanswered questions of love.