Carin León is making big moves this year. The Mexican singer-songwriter is performing at both the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals. With his unique take on música mexicana, León has found a way to push the genre into the future while making it resonate with people around the world, including Americana and country music fans.
León hails from Hermosillo, Sonora. After making his debut in 2018, he scored a global hit two years later with his sierreño cover of Noelia’s classic “Tú.” With the strong momentum from that song, León became invested in the power of fusions in música mexicana. He embraced banda music with Grupo Firme in their song “El Tóxico,” which has over 552 million views on YouTube. Later, Spanish rapper C. Tangana enlisted León and Adriel Favela to feature on his genre-bending song “Cambia!“
Last year, León solidified himself as a visionary force in música mexicana. He scored three hits on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart with songs that all sound different from one another. Colombian singer Maluma and León blended pop and banda in the viral “Según Quién,” Grupo Frontera brought León into their norteña world in “Que Vuelvas,” and León shined on his own in “Primera Cita.” With the latter song, he masterfully blended the worlds of música mexicana and country music. His latest album Colmillo de Leche later won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Norteño Album last November.
With Carin León’s appearances at Coachella and Stagecoach approaching this April, here are seven songs we would love to see him perform at both events.
For any Carin León fan, the first song that most likely comes to mind by him is “Tú.” While everyone was staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he released the aptly-titled live album Encerrados Pero Enfiestados, Vol. 1. During the jam session for that LP, León covered Puerto Rican singer Noelia’s 1999 hit “Tú.” He completely transformed the Latine pop track into a sad sierreño love song, and it eventually became his first big hit. The live music video for the song has over 460 million views on YouTube as of press time. León was just getting started with showing how he could put his own spin on música mexicana.
Grupo Frontera had their Coachella debut last year when Bad Bunny brought them out as special guests to perform “Un x100to.” Now that the guys of Grupo Frontera are no strangers to the music festival, hopefully, they can join León for at least one of the weekends. In December 2022, the Mexican-American group teamed up with León for his heartbreaking song “Que Vuelvas.” León showed that his powerful voice could fit into any genre as he shined in the norteña-cumbia world of Grupo Frontera. Last year, the song became his first entry on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 50.
There could be a chance that León could bring out special guests during his sets at Coachella and Stagecoach. It would be amazing to see Spanish rapper C. Tangana and Mexican-American singer Adriel Favela join him on those stages. The trio could perform their genre-bending song “Cambia!” from C. Tangana’s 2021 album El Madrileño. C. Tangana seamlessly blended flamenco influences from Spain with elements of corridos tumbados. While C. Tangana was on the Sin Cantar Ni Afinar Tour in support of his album, León joined him a few times to perform the breathtaking collaboration. It would be great if C. Tangana returned the favor for one of these music festivals.
“Man in Black”
Last year, León showed there are no language barriers when it comes to singing. For the first time, he sang in English to cover the classic “Man in Black” by Johnny Cash. “Johnny Cash is an icon within country and American folk music, although his music continues to have a strong influence within music across all genres today,” León said in a statement at the time. His cover blended the country music that Cash was known for and added elements of Mexican banda music. León proved that the heartfelt soul in his voice sounds great in any language. The Stagecoach crowd will most likely love to hear León’s refreshing version of Cash’s song.
Last year, Maluma released his album Don Juan, where he ventured into other genres outside of reggaeton. For his latest foray into música mexicana, the Colombian superstar enlisted León to feature on “Según Quién.” The fiery kiss-off anthem put a pop twist on banda music. Maluma and León sang together about moving on from their toxic exes and onto better things in life. The song went viral on TikTok thanks to the dance move where a knocking motion turns into a middle finger. “Según Quién” has so far peaked at No. 65 on the Hot 100 chart. The music video where Maluma embraces a vaquero style with León has over 305 million views on YouTube.
León doesn’t need to rely on collaborations to be successful. He first demonstrated that with “Tú” in 2020, and he did it again last year with “Primera Cita.” In the sultry love song, León showed that the worlds of música mexicana and country music aren’t all that different. He masterfully blended the two genres while adding a bit of blues into the mix as well. At the core of the converging genres is León’s soulful voice as he sang about a romance that slipped away. “Primera Cita” peaked at No. 97 on the Hot 100 chart. He later became the first artist from Hermosillo to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
“Si Me Llevas Contigo”
In honor of Prime Video’s new adaptation of Zorro, León recorded two songs for the series’ soundtrack. He embodied the bold spirit of the beloved vigilante in the banda-infused song “No Te Detengas.” For the second song, “Si Me Llevas Contigo,” he further united the worlds of música mexicana and country music, with Australian country star Keith Urban joining him on it. Zorro represents the era of Spanish California, a mix of Spanish and Mexican culture. León and Urban also teamed up with Spanish singer Rosario, who added some flamenco flair to their collaboration. Urban would be a hit at Stagecoach if he was one of León’s special guests.