50 Best Songs of the Year by Latino Artists

Lead Photo: Art by Alan López for Remezcla
Art by Alan López for Remezcla
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As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the anthems that soundtracked our parties, beach days, break-ups and contemplative moments. After hours spent arguing in the office, we’re proud to present our picks for the top 50 songs of the year by Latinx (and Latin American and Spanish) artists. Also feel free to check out our playlist here:

Editor’s Note: While this list features mostly artists of U.S. Latino and Latin American background, we have also included Spanish artists. As these groups are musically in constant conversation with each other, we have decided to include Spanish artists in our list of best songs of the year. 


Fat Joe & Cardi B - "YES"

The worlds of hip-hop and Latin trap collide on Fat Joe’s “Yes” with Cardi B and Anuel AA. Worked around a sample of the salsa music classic “Aguanilé,” the rappers take turns flexing their fame, fortunes, and the effs that they’re fresh out of on the track. In English, Fat Joe and Cardi (in her “La Caldi” persona) lyrically go in, while Anuel tears into the collaboration with a frosty guest verse filled with his signature “Brrrr’s.” Is there a lot going on here? Yes. Is it amazing, though? YES. -Lucas J. Villa


Jackie Mendoza - “Seahorse”

Through her amazing run of singles in 2019, Jackie Mendoza reminded us that indie music could be as weird as it could be catchy. A highlight of said run, “Seahorse” made the most with both sides of the equation that worked so well for Mendoza, using underwater-like sounds, pop sensibilities and experimental blendings of sound to present herself to us at her most emotive yet refined; a mini-opera of sorts where so much happens in the mere two and a half minutes of the track’s duration. Referencing pop, chillwave and modern psych, Mendoza seems to be on a mission to build chamber music for our times by frying mini-disks in a bonfire. -Marcos Hassan


Divino Niño - “Coca Cola”

Chicago quartet Divino Niño knocked it out of the park with their third album Foam, and its second single “Coca Cola” can help us understand why. The song is a psych-pop success, immediately creating a bubble around us where we can fantasize about the life we’ve always wanted. But the track also delivers the needle that bursts it, giving us a wake-up call to go out and make our dreams come true. -Cheky


August Eve - “Know Better”

August Eve lays the chilled-out melancholia thick on “Know Better.” A sultry hymn to heartbroken healing that reflects on the end of a relationship, the dark pop chanteuse from Los Angeles’ haunting voice is as much an invocation of those uncertain feelings as it is a balm to smooth them over. She sings “Maybe when it’s over / I can get you out of my head” on the second verse, whispering regret over things unsaid and honoring a complicated emotion that has passed through the head and heart of anyone that’s had to pick up the pieces and start over. -E.R. Pulgar


Girl Ultra feat. Cuco - "DameLove"

In this slinky cut from latest record Nuevos Aires, CDMX’s Girl Ultra and sadboi supreme Cuco swap verses over a slow bass and lazy guitar. This sleepy stoner love story attempts to capture the sexy ambiguity and butterflies that come with new love. “There’s something about you, something,” the pair purrs over the beat, ending the sonic flirtation with Girl Ultra offering to smoke us out and “watch the Simpsons or something.” Honestly, count us in. -E.R. Pulgar


Devendra Banhart - "Abre Las Manos"

Devendra Banhart has made it a point to highlight the crisis in Venezuela throughout his long career, but he’s never been as pointed as he is on “Abre Las Manos.” The buoyant stand-out track from his 10th record, Ma, is bolstered by hushed vocals, an ethereal guitar and a floaty invitation to open one’s arms to the gifts of the universe – typical Banhart fare, until a dark turn to realism encroaches near the end. In the closing verse, Banhart sings “Mira el museo fue destrozado / Por gente que nunca habia entrado,” referencing Venezuela’s endless lines of people waiting for food, the kidnappings, the bloodshed and the destruction of cultural institutions. He directly asks, in the most pleasant way possible, how much more suffering the country must endure for something to change. Banhart invites the listener to look, to listen, to become aware – and the result is as chilling as it is beautifully haunting. -E.R. Pulgar


Ms Nina feat. Tomasa del Real - "Y Dime"

This collaboration by the high priestesses of neoperreo is a melancholy dancefloor hymn for the loneliest and horniest among us. Ms Nina and Tomasa Del Real swap lovelorn verses about a transient love over a reggaeton beat, bemoaning the lovers who already feel absent laying in bed the morning after. Ms Nina offers her love on loan, knowing that as romantic as the connection might be, love can be as transitory as lust. “Hoy puedo contigo, mañana cualquiera,” Del Real purrs near the end of “Y Dime,” the core message of the song lodged in her slick, confident delivery. The track crackles to its victorious end, and these femme fatales leave one thing abundantly clear: what happens in a perreo sucio stays in a perreo sucio. -E.R. Pulgar


Dayvi, Víctor Cárdenas - “Baila Conmigo ft. Kelly Ruiz”

Víctor Cárdenas and DJ Dayvi’s hemispheric phenomenon of a tribal house anthem was designed to seduce and destroy. “Imagínate, tú y yo en la playa,” coos vocalist Kelly Ruíz at the start of the track, cracking the lid on three minutes of the Colombian producers’ adrenaline-racing EDM-spun beats (whose most notable sound comes from Cuban-Andalusian guaracha). “Baila Conmigo” has a monster audio palette that pleased even circuit queens on the dance floor and inspired a remix by French producer Willy William of “Mi Gente” notoriety. DJs regularly dropped this track at their desired moment to detonate vibes, ensuring that the song would trigger tequila-scented party flashbacks for years to come. -Caitlin Donohue


Mariah - “Perreito”

“El nuevo orden,” Mariah purrs at the start of her summer throwback jam, “Perreito,” and with that, we know exactly where the 19-year-old reggaetonera stands. Miami-born and CubaRican-raised, Mariah is bringing the fire of female MCs, like OG Ivy Queen, back into the urbano spotlight. With its insistent earworm hook and breathy boss bitch energy, “Perreito” even got its own remix with hotshots Darell and Arcangel – but Mariah’s first big solo hit remains my definitive perreo sucio song of the summer para las mujeres. -Jenzia Burgos


Katzù Oso - “Kiss U Better”

Katzù Oso makes earnest love ballads swirled in walls of synthesizers, all while avoiding delving too deeply into the electronic realm. “Kiss U Better” continues to showcase his growth as a songwriter following his 2018 EP Pastel – teasing us with what’s in store for 2020. -Eduardo Cepeda


C. Tangana, Alizzz - “Pa' Llamar Tu Atención ft. MC Bin Laden”

Pxxr Gvng’s long-term relationship with US trap artists notwithstanding, 2019 was the year Spanish urbano artists began to collaborate with their American continents’ counterparts in earnest. As they did everywhere else in the century’s second decade, genre lines proved immaterial in the exchange. Elsewhere, neo-flamenco chanteuse Rosalía found global reggaeton fame when she linked with Balvin, and on “Pa’ Llamar Tu Atención,” C. Tangana and his favored producer Alizz felt their baile funk roots. Relevancy was provided by MC Bin Laden, the genre’s most internationally facing “Tá Tranquilo, Tá Favorável” star of the last few years. The trio created a peacocking, percussive fusion that neatly encapsulates the year’s global pop takeover. -Caitlin Donohue


Belafonte Sensacional - “Epic Aris”

For long-time fans, Soy Piedra was not only an amazing showcase for Israel Ramírez’s songwriting and his cohorts’ ability to spread brutal, beautiful, folky, and bluesy melodic mayhem, but also represented a sideways step to no-nonsense music that was well worth hearing. Even for new converts of Belafonte Sensacional, “Epic Aris” managed to flip the script of what a lyrically-heavy artist could sound like. The track stretches a krautrock-like groove that shares DNA with blues-based rock urbano, complementing the surreal lyrics with plenty of Mexico City slang to give us a microcosmic version of what a nervous breakdown sounds like. -Marcos Hassan


Debit - “The Alphabet (feat Javier Estrada)”

Just when you thought tribal guarachero would be remembered as little more than an early decade musical meme, NAAFI affiliate Debit swooped into the club wearing her pointiest snakeskin boots and changed the game. On System, her criminally underrated follow up to last year’sAnimus, Debit unspools the rhythmic possibilities of tribal by juxtaposing it against pitch-black industrial atmospheres. On standout track “The Alphabet,” she links up with Monterrey producer Javier Estrada, delivering the record’s creeping backbone and conjuring images of Trent Reznor at the rodeo. -Richard Villegas


Cariño - “La Bajona”

Elefant Records signees Cariño had a fantastic year in 2019 in Spain, and part of it is thanks to their melancholic single “La Bajona.” “La Bajona” uses fiction and shoegaze-inflected pop instrumentation that builds up and up, imagining the consequences of being completely absorbed by a toxic relationship. It’s as heartbreaking as it sounds. -Cheky


Ñejo x Guaynaa - “Mi Leona”

Around the same time that Guaynaa’s massive hit “Rebota” began to pick up steam, another far less in-your-face anthem filled the air in San Juan. Ñejo and Guaynaa’s “Mi Leona” finds both emcees flexing their undeniably catchy bars, with a haunting backing sample giving the song a mysterious undertone. -Eduardo Cepeda


Yawners - “La Escalera”

The dream of the ‘90s seems to be coming alive with every passing second. We’re at the point culturally where things are getting mixed into things that people perceive as what happened during that decade. While much of the rock music made during that time carried the “slacker” tag, fans of true blue skronky guitar and punchy drums know that the screams dripped with passion, something Yawners (talk about slacker rock with that name) are all too happy to remind us of. The Madrid-duo step up to the plate with angular rhythms, dissonant riffs, and a ripping chorus to deliver something passionate and vital with this track. In turn, it all makes “La Escalera” seem like so much fun, and boy, did we need fun sad music in 2019. -Marcos Hassan


Tatiana Hazel - “Let Me Go”

Chicago’s Tatiana Hazel continued to prove her versatility this year, and nowhere more than on single “Let Me Go.” The slick pop jam may have been literally intended to encourage a lover to loosen the ties, but it served the double function of advising all those with set expectations for Hazel’s music, to drop them. The woman who started her career strumming a guitar in her own bedroom on YouTube is more fully assuming her role as a reggaeton-synth-pop chimera with every move she makes. -Caitlin Donohue


Silva de Alegría - “Primavera en la Guerra del Sonido”

Whistles, banjos, tambourines and the kitchen sink – Silva de Alegría’s effervescent third studio album Primavera en la Guerra del Sonido plays out like a serendipitous stroll through a Dr. Seuss cinematic universe. The album’s undisputed centerpiece is its title track, which opens on timid Kermit The Frog-esque banjo plucks that rapidly shapeshift into a symphonic rapture – perfect for making your heart flutter and stoking your cravings for green eggs and ham. -Richard Villegas


Dinamarca - “Prins”

Throughout his career, Dinamarca has proven that he can make a club smasher with his eyes closed, but with his last full-length Fantasilandia, he showed some more versatility. “Prins” is undoubtedly inspired by dancehall, but he dims it down and decorates it with jangly guitar plucks that move its sound closer to dream-pop. Summer doesn’t have to evoke a wild party; it can also be a beachside meditation. -Cheky


Los Wálters - “Al Revés (feat. Andrea Cruz)”

“Al Revés” dropped on Valentine’s Day, its lyrics a pleasingly poetic tribute to an ex-love who still inspires. The track came in the middle of a hot streak for Puerto Rican synth-pop duo Los Wálters, who despite not having released an album since 2016’s Isla Disco, were riding high off of singles like “Calma” and “Fragancia.” On “Al Revés,” boricua vocalist Andrea Cruz floats over the pair’s disco sun-flare of a beat and delivers lines that, in a year of insanely bitter, high profile break-up anthems, were a nice hat-tip to emotional subtlety. -Caitlin Donohue


Jessie Reyez - “Far Away”

Jessie Reyez didn’t set out to write a song about family separations; the words just floated into her head like a special kind of alchemy. She’d planned to make “Far Away” a meditation on a difficult romance, but with the line “the government wants us to break up,” it shifted into a wrenching portrait of love in times of terror under the Trump administration. Through her raw vocals, she translates the pain of individuals torn apart by I.C.E. and the ache of their uncertain futures. -Julyssa Lopez


Femina - "Arriba"

As part of a trio of recently released singles off their forthcoming Perlas & Conchas album, “Arriba” is a triumph for Fémina’s evolving sound. The Patagonian sisters have always blurred genre lines, known for placing their speedy hip-hop-adjacent verses atop traditional Andean rhythms. On their latest, however, Fémina is getting even more experimental: “Arriba” stands out with its tempered harmonies, piecing together surreal images of rooting oneself into the earth, shedding one’s skin and being birthed anew. It’s a perfect message for Fémina’s fresh return, and for our collective farewell to the year. -Jenzia Burgos


Cuco - “Keeping Tabs (feat. Suscat0)”

Though this slick cut from Cuco’s debut album may seem like a far cry from the floaty bedroom trip-hop that put him on the map, it maintains his laid-back essence. Cuco guides us through a psychedelic sonic wonderland, swapping verses with newcomer Suscat0 and bolstered by a lively beat that channels SZA’s “Go Gina” on LSD. The equally zonked-out video, a tribute to L.A. foo culture, also highlights Cuco’s Chicanx roots, with angels and demons playing Lotería in an ethereal, translucent landscape. This is the sadboi progenitor at his most fun-loving, light-hearted and, dare I say it, happiest? One thing’s for sure, and pun intended – this is one hell of a trip. –E.R Pulgar


Ambar Lucid - “Mar De Llanto”

Ambar Lucid’s brand of quiet dream pop shows incredible control and restraint – something that’s particularly impressive for an artist who is still wrapping up her teenage years. But “Mar De Llanto” is like a dam breaking; she abandons her reflexive self-containment and instead thrusts her emotions to the forefront of the music. The result is a commanding power ballad – one of Lucid’s strongest moments yet – that proves just how much she’s grown into her voice and her lyricism. -Julyssa Lopez


Sech Feat. Darrel - “Otro Trago”

With reggaetoneros cashing in on the single ladies left and right (see: Lunay’s “Soltera” or Bad Bunny and J Balvin’s “La Cancion”), this breakout track by Panama’s Sech was the most convincing, if not genuine, summer hit for all the sad boys and girls out there. What starts out as a hushed picture of a heartbroken girl drinking alone at the club, breaks out into a thumping opportunity for “Olvidando la pena” and busting up the dancefloor. Who ever said heartache has to keep you down? -Jenzia Burgos

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