Corridos are part of the fabric of Mexico’s history. Many stories of the people’s struggles during the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s were recorded by crooners who turned them into shareable corridos. Over time, corridos have evolved to become narrative songs filled with romance, heartbreak, folklore or debauchery that are usually paired with a moral lesson. For Mexican-Americans today, corridos are still very much imprinted in the culture as they bump during family parties.
In any Mexican-American family function or carne asada, the classic corridos of Mexican greats like Los Tigres del Norte, Chalino Sánchez, Ramon Ayala and Los Tucanes de Tijuana can most likely be heard blaring. The stories these artists tell in their corridos have moved the action to the bars, the rancho and sometimes the drug trade routes. Narcocorridos were specifically born out of the aforementioned movement. These songs, whether celebrating triumphs or warning of tragedy, are the pulse of Mexican people.
That pulse continues to beat with the recent incarnation of corridos by a new wave of Mexican-American singers who are applying an urbano twist and taking their messages to the streets. In whatever form, corridos are forever. To celebrate the storied genre, here are 10 that never get old.
Los Tigres Del Norte - "La Puerta Negra"
Mexican norteño group Los Tigres de Norte scored one of their biggest hits with “La Puerta Negra.” The band’s brassy track touches on a forbidden romance where the singer recounts his pain in a wailing performance. Los Tigre de Norte’s message with the song is plain and simple: Parents just don’t understand. Their rowdy and unforgettable anthem remains a classic.
Banda El Recordo de Cruz Lizárraga - "Y Llegaste Tú"
Banda El Recordo de Don Cruz Lizárraga is another Mexican group that has been around for decades. One of their biggest hits is “Y Llegaste Tú” where the band springs to life as the lead singer details how his life has changed with love in it. Winter turns into spring and the cold, lonely nights are a thing of the past on this upbeat banda track.
Ramon Ayala - "Tragos Amargos"
Mexican singer Ramón Ayala is a legend in the norteño music scene. One of his most famous hits is “Tragos Amargos.” With heartbreak getting the best of him, Ayala does his best to drink the pain away, but the liquor instead leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. For those facing similar circumstances, he’s the perfect drinking partner on this emotional ballad.
Los Tucanes De Tijuana - "La Chona"
One of Los Tucanes de Tijuana’s classics became a hit again thanks to recent some viral videos, including one where people from around the world dance in the streets of Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A woman named “La Chona” goes out and lives her best life on the dance floor and this bouncy banger makes it very easy to follow her lead.
Chalino Sanchez - "Alma Enamorada"
Hailing from Sinaloa, Mexico, The late Chalino Sánchez was the king of corridos. One of his most well-known songs is “Alma Enamorada.” The vaquero was so in love with the woman of his eye that he could feel it down to his soul. A romance that pertinent also meant feeling some pain that Sánchez withstood as he waited for his lover to make her move.
Adan "Chalino" Sanchez - "Me Cansé de Morir Por Tu Amor"
Just like his father, Adan “Chalino” Sánchez also met an untimely end when he died in a strange car accident at age 19. The younger Sánchez was proudly picking up his father’s reigns in regional Mexican music. One of the gems he released before his death was “Me Cansé de Morir Por Tu Amor.” The banda kiss-off track was a sweet goodbye.
Ariel Camacho - "Rey de Corazones"
Ariel Camacho is another singer from Sinaloa, Mexico who died at a young age like Adan “Chalino” Sánchez. Their stories are eerily similar, with a car crash leading to his death at age 22. In his short time in the spotlight, Camacho released his signature corrido “Rey de Corazones.” He was dealt an unlucky hand in love but played it to his strengths.
Paquita La Del Barrio - "Rata de Dos Patas"
For decades Paquita la del Barrio has held it down for women in regional Mexican music. The Mexican legend is known for sticking it to the man in her songs, especially on her signature hit “Rata de dos Patas.” Paquita doesn’t mince her words when compares her no-good guy to rats and cockroaches. “¿Me estás oyendo, inútil?” she asks. Yes, loud and clear.
Vicente Fernández - "Por Tu Maldito Amor"
El Rey de la música ranchera, Vicente Fernández, is another Mexican legend who has given many generations of fans timeless hits like one of his most famous, “Por Tu Maldito Amor.” He reflects on failed romance that’s left him absolutely heartbroken. The devastation is real as he digs deep to deliver a performance filled with pain. Frankly, my dear, Chente really does give a damn.
Selena - "Tú Sólo Tú"
“Tú Sólo Tú” is a classic in regional Mexican music popularized by Mexican icon Pedro Infante. Before her death in 1995, Selena recorded a cover of it that was included on her posthumous Dreaming of You album. It’s one of her rare forays in ranchera music where she completely loses herself in an intoxicating romance. Only Selena could pull off a rendition as memorable as Infante’s.