As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s hard not to think of the 2000s when thinking about the greatest love song hits in the history of Latine music. The ‘00s were an exciting time for music and culture. Following the crossover success of Latine artists into the U.S. mainstream in the late ‘90s, the early aughts still saw pop stars, including Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer Lopez, land hits on coveted Billboard charts like the Hot 100. But much was also happening in Latin America’s Spanish-language musical landscape — especially when it came to love anthems en español that are now classics.
The new millennium brought the rise of new pop icons thanks to award-winning breakthroughs from the likes of Mexican singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas and Colombian musician Juanes. While pop, rock, and traditional Latine rhythms were among the defining sounds at the beginning of the 21st century, reggaeton and bachata saw international success as the decade unfolded, changing the course for popular sounds. Looking back, no matter the genre, one thing is clear: the decade produced many impactful tracks that were oozing with lyrics about love.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we are featuring seven of some of the most popular love songs from the ‘00s that still make us melt. From poetic musical masterpieces to light-hearted, feel-good classics and bicultural hits, these songs are etched into our hearts forever. Some of them are now even getting a TikTok revival. Whether burned onto a CD or downloaded onto an iPod — legally or illegally — these tracks were a staple in every love anthem playlist.
Julieta Venegas - “Andar Conmigo”
In 2003, alt-rock singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas made her leap into pop stardom with her third album, Sí. The result was a contrast to the moody tones of albums like 1998’s Aquí. Instead, it brought out a rosier side to Venegas: bright tracks were the backdrop for songwriting that put into words the feelings that come with the push and pull of falling in love. The lead single, “Andar Conmigo,” is a hopeful ballad infused with ranchera and cumbia that bravely asks, do you want to be in a relationship with me? From this album’s iconic wedding dress cover, it’s clear: this album is love-coded.
Manu Chao - “Me Gustas Tu”
Chances are that if you’re Gen Z or just TikTok obsessed, you’ve probably heard the sped-up version of this catchy tune somewhere on your FYP. Manu Chao, the French-Spanish singer and musician often credited for influencing the Latine-alt music scene with his global sound, rock roots, and politically charged lyrics, released the song in 2001 as the second single off Próxima Estación: Esperanza. The upbeat track is full of repetitive and random lyrics that, in so many ways, charmingly proclaim: I like you. Chao is an expert in meshing together Caribbean sounds with rock and Latine rhythms, and in “Me Gustas Tu,” he crafted a lively international hit so addictive that it has withstood the test of time.
Café Tacvba - “Eres”
Although the veteran rockers had shown a tenderside in songs like their 1996 rock-ska cover of Leo Dan’s “Como te extraño mi amor,” it was their 2003 mainstream hit “Eres” from Cuatro Caminos that truly cemented the band into Mexican love song history. The timeless song is a total declaration of love, according to the band, and one that was inspired particularly by the emotional intensity of teenage love. Emmanuel del Real’s, aka Meme, soft vocals and profound songwriting bring these universal feelings to life in the most epically romantic way possible. The atmospheric guitar alone will stop you in your tracks.
Juanes - “Es Por Ti”
No one could escape Juanes in the aughts, and for good reason. The Colombian, who had already earned acclaim in his home country, reached new heights and international attention with his 2002 album Un Día Normal, a rock-infused pop album sprinkled with Colombian influences that spawned several hits. The influential award-winning album, he told Rolling Stone, encapsulated dark and light times. The sunny bits were undoubtedly embedded in songs like “A Dios Le Pido” and “Es Por Ti,” which were inspired by his wife. The latter, a soft rock ballad he wrote for her in their Bogota apartment, continues to be one of his most popular hits today.
Lu - “Por Besarte”
Launched into international Latine pop success and telenovela fandom thanks to the hit show Rebelde, this song by Mexican duo Lu, made up of Mario Sandoval and Paty Cantú, is best known as the soundtrack to characters Roberta and Diego’s blossoming love. The duo’s greatest hit, which passionately describes the yearning for a first kiss, Sandoval has said, didn’t land on Rebelde randomly. He set out to make sure the 2004 track off their self-titled album would be featured on the show. Little did he know just how much the song would resonate with fans. Although the duo disbanded and Roberta and Diego’s love story stopped airing years ago, the song continues to live on thanks to the recent RBD tour and all the TikTok edits encompassing the fictional couple’s flirty moments.
DJ Flex - “Te Quiero”
One of the most infectious songs to come out of the aughts is no doubt DJ Flex’s “Te Quiero.” Off his 2007 studio album debut Te Quiero: Romantic Style in da World, the track is an explosive blend of reggaeton and vibrant pop, topped with heartfelt lyrics about deep love and devotion. Romantic reggaeton was a growing subgenre at the time, and Flex set out to create more of it with what he called “romantic style,” a style fueled by his love of romantic reggae. And the song wasn’t just a fan favorite — it made it to the Billboard 100 and won the Panamanian singer-songwriter international acclaim.
Toby Love - “Tengo Un Amor”
Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Toby Love made one unforgettable impression in 2006 when he dropped his debut single, “Tengo Un Amor.” The Bronx-born artist’s seamless transition between English and Spanish lyrics over a mixture of R&B and bachata is a vigorous marriage of the genres and a powerful nod to his roots. In the track off his self-titled debut, he showcases his melodic abilities as he passionately expresses the ardor he feels for his love. “Tengo Un Amor” won the hearts and ears of many, landing on several Billboard charts, including the Billboard Hot 100, showcasing not just love’s but bachata’s undeniable presence in the mainstream.