There are some songs that are staples in Colombian households – these are them! Chances are you’ve jammed out to these at every family party or sang along while driving in your car. These 13 songs will always be classics. Let us know – are there any we missed?
Lucho Bermúdez: “Colombia Tierra Querida”
Lucho Bermúdez is a musical legend in Colombia. He melded America’s big band sounds of the 1940s with the traditional Colombian sounds of cumbia, porro, boleros, and merecumbes. Seriously, if you are Colombian, chances are you know all the words to this song, verbatim.
Totó la Momposina: “Prende la Vela”
One of the best parts of Colombian music is its strong African foundation. Totó la Momposina, another national treasure, shares the music of her homeland (Tailagua Nueva, Bolívar), which incorporates African, American Indian, and Spanish sounds. “Prende la Vela” is one of those jams us Colombians get our African dance on to.
Lucho Bermúdez: “Salsipuedes”
“Salsipuedes,” another jam by Lucho Bermúdez, is an old-school porra that you’ve probably heard a bunch of times at family parties.
Carlos Vives: “La Gota Fria”
To say this song was huge would be an understatement. While Colombia was starting to take a look back at the roots of its music, musician Carlos Vives shared vallenato with the rest of the world with Clásicos de la Provincia. It became the best-selling album in Colombia of all time, and it was the pride of every Colombian when it was played at any party. It was like our theme song in the ‘90s and beyond.
Aniceto Molina: “El Año Viejo”
Aniceto Molina is another icon of Colombian music. He was a cumbia singer and accordionist with several legendary songs, including “El Año Viejo” (“The Old Year”). This was a guaranteed song on the playlist for every New Year’s Eve party.
Los Corraleros de Majagual: “Los Sabanales”
Accordions are life to Colombians, and “Los Sabanales” opens with some accordion straight out of the gate. Most of the music we play at parties are to make everyone dance and be festive, and it’s impossible to hear this song and not want to move.
Lucho Bermúdez y Su Orquesta: “Tolú”
“Tolú” is proof that a song can be swaggy perfection without containing one word. Plenty of wind and brass instruments create a lush sound, at the intersection of big band and gaita. Truly a Colombian classic.
Joe Arroyo “La Rebelion”
This song is another one played at all the parties. It’s one of those “hold my drink, I’m going to go dance,” songs, but one where you don’t realize the power of the lyrics until you’re older. In this song, the legendary salsero Joe Arroyo spoke on the injustices Africans faced in slavery in Colombia:
“An African couple
Slaves of a Spaniard
He treated them very badly,
And hit his Black woman
It was there, that the handsome black man rebelled
He avenged his love
And you can still hear him yelling at the gates:
‘Don’t hit my black woman!’
Los Embajadores Vallenatos: “El Santo Cachon”
A less serious song is “El Santo Cachon,” a tale about infidelity. It’s fun, hilarious, and great to dance to.
Grupo Niche: “Cali Pachanguero”
Cali is the salsa capital of the world. The city’s own Grupo Niche is one of the best salsa groups around, and one of their best known hits is “Cali Pachanguero.” Seeing as pachanga means a party, this song is a staple of many a lit fête.
La Sonora Dinamita: “Amor de Mis Amores”
Although La Sonora Dinamita has gone through many incarnations, probably the most beloved version was fronted by Margarita Vargas, “La Diosa de la Cumbia.” The group has had a ton of iconic hits, but this is one of the most recognizable and beloved. This is one that all Colombian women should know the words to.
Joe Arroyo: “La Noche”
A song so nice, they made it twice. Joe Arroyo’s version is great; Juanes added a touch of rock to his version in 2002. Both are most likely part of any Colombian’s perpetual playlist.
Fruko y sus Tesos: “El Preso”
Colombians Fruko y sus Tesos were also huge in the salsa game (Joe Arroyo served as lead singer before pursuing a solo career). “El Preso” is a popular song about a prisoner who served 30 years, but the infectious beat will have you dancing quite freely.