It seems that as early as Halloween these days, it’s hard to escape from Christmas music. Blah blah consumer culture blah blah Jesus is the reason for the season blah blah Alvin & the Chipmunks, you have to admit that the sound of jingle-jangling bells and happy choruses makes your heart all a-flutter. Corny? Sure. But who’s too cool for Christmas?
Grab a mug of hot chocolate, put on your ugliest sweater, and enjoy, in no particular order, 10 Really Corny Latin Christmas Songs. Subject your family to them! They’ll never forgive…I mean forget!
1. En Navidad – Jowell & Randy
There is a real album called Christmas-ton: A Reggaeton Christmas. I would love to have sat in the meeting where a bunch of people got together and decided this was an incredible idea. Come for gems like Jowell & Randy’s En Navidad, which allows you to perreo to lyrics about delicious Christmas dinners. Stay for Don Omar singing Little Drummer Boy. We’re not kidding.
2. El Burrito de Belén or Mi Burrito Sabanero – La Rondallita
Cu-cu-cu-cumbia! This song was written by the famous Venezuelan songwriter Hugo Blanco of Moliendo Cafe esteem, and became a huge hit in 1976 when recorded by Venezuelan group La Rondallita. That’s the version above; you’ll find that kids singing is kind of a “thing” with Christmas music. This is the less religious version, which just means he talks about Morcilla instead of Jesus at the beginning.
3. Llegó la Navidad – Jossie Esteban
Another song that relies heavily on lyrics about food, the legendary Dominican merengueros Jossie Esteben y la Patrulla 15 ring in the holidays with lots of hip shaking.
4. Noche de Paz – Topo Gigio
Topo Gigio was an Italian childrens’ show from the early sixties that got dubbed in Spanish and broadcast around Latin America. I guarantee your parents have fond memories of this show, which is why they’re immune from its horrors. The puppet is scary and so is his old man voice. (He sounds like Herbert the Pervert from Family Guy.) Also, someone decided that even when called upon to do so, Topo Gigio would be entirely unable to carry a tune, which just makes it creepier. Noche de Paz (Silent Night) is a well known Christmas song, but Topo Gigio turns it into nightmare fuel.
5. Soy Feliz – Celia Cruz
Recognize it? Good. There’s something a little surreal at first about hearing this. On the list of things that would never in a million years occur to me existed, a salsa cover of Jingle Bells would be pretty high up there. Add that it’s sung by the legendary Celia Cruz and I’d normally tell you that this was impossible. I would, apparently, be wrong.
6. Campana Sobre Campana – Yuri
Mexican 80’s pop artist Yuri is dressed like a Scottish highlander, and that’s how this video starts. Where do you even go from there? More children singing, lots of bell ringing, altar boys, and vertigo.
7. Ven a mi casa esta navidad – Luis Aguilé
The legendary, decades long career of Argentine crooner and songwriter Luis Aguiléis worth acquainting yourself with. He wrote the unofficial anthem of Cuban exile, Cuando Salí de Cuba, and the official anthem of CF Monterrey, not to mention about 700 more songs, and is credited with inventing an entire musical genre. So he’s a cool dude. This melancholy Christmas song is noteworthy for keeping up with the themes of exile so many Latin Americans face in the US and abroad – he is inviting people who have nowhere to go for the holidays to come to his place: “You who are far from your friends / from your land and your home / and have pain in your heart / because you can’t stop thinking / you who can’t stop remembering, tonight / I want you to know that there’s a place for you at my table.” Beautiful.
8. Aires de Navidad –Hector Lavoe & Willie Colon
9. Donde Esta Santa Claus? – Augie Rios
Backed by the Mark Jeffrey Orchestra, Augie Rios had a vaguely racist hit with this song back in 1958. It’s still adorable, and it’s still got a goddamned kid singing in it.
10. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano
You didn’t honestly think we were going to leave this one off the list, did you?