Salsa music invokes memories of weekends spent at home with family as a child. From Rubensito to Gibertito and El Gran Combo, you’d think they were family from the way my dad spoke of, and referred to, a few of the salsa greats. The days of stellar storytelling wrapped in that clave rhythm aren’t exactly over, but to this day nothing compares to the folks who did it in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Unlike most music releases now, videos to accompany them were few and far between. But, when the few that are out there almost never disappoint.
Here are a few classics that’ll never go out of style, and transport you to a simpler time, your childhood kitchen – or hopefully both.
Roberto Blades - "Lagrimas"
Did you know Rubén Blades has a Grammy award-winning, highly underrated younger brother, Roberto Blades? Be blessed by this video from 1984. There are a few highlights here you absolutely need to look out for. The first is at 45 seconds when a woman is literally in tears before getting slapped in the face by a flailing arm to her right. The second is at some point in the middle when a lady tries to pull the panameño into the audience. This is the kind of concert experience I live for, mi gente. Then, at 1:05, 3:55, 5:05, and basically every other second of this video in which Blades shows he is the supremely gifted brother when it comes to dancing. This live show recording format is the most typical style of videos at the time, with the more directed, highly produced versions coming in the ’90s from artists in the states.
Marc Anthony - "Hasta Que te Conocí"
Exhibit A: A long-haired Marc singing about love as dramatically as ever in a 1993 video paired with over-filtered scenes. You love to see it.
Tito Rojas - "Siempre Sere"
Come for Rojas’ profoundly romantic lyrics that make you feel like you’re in love when you’re far from it, and stay for the truly hilarious dramatic pauses and random colored filters.
Jerry Rivera - "Qué Hay De Malo"
Ah yes, the sweet Latin singer who’s in love with the rich dancer whose parents are not about it. Classic. Que hay de malo in passionately singing about young love in a beautiful building with stained glass? Nada. More please.
Rey Ruiz - "No Me Acostumbro"
The hair fan. The green screen edits. The closeups. The perfectly styled hair and Grease era ‘fits. This is a work of art.