The Mullinax Latin Pop Playlist
Let’s talk about the Bad Bunny-fication of pop music.
From headlining Coachella to scoring Grammy nominations, the Puerto Rican singer/rapper has been making waves in the modern music scene. (If you still don’t know who we’re talking about, just ask any teenager. They’ll fill you in.)
But Bad Bunny’s success comes with help from icons before him. That’s why this Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we’ve put together a playlist of legends from Gloria Estefan to Daddy Yankee whose music paved the way for the Latin pop hits we know and dance to today.
Whether you know the words or not, you’ll be shimmying in the driver’s seat when these reggae beats and salsa percussion breaks echo through your car speakers.
Conga -- Gloria Estefan (1988)
It’s an ’80s dance-pop classic. It’s an ode to Cuban salsa. It was the soundtrack to the Guiness-world-record-holding longest conga line in history (seriously, look it up). But more than anything, it was the smash hit that first brought Latin rhythms to English-speaking Americans. Call the song cheesy if you want. We can’t hear you over the sound of our shimmying.
Como la Flor -- Selena (1992)
She’s the Queen of Tejano, and this 1994 heartbreak anthem is the jewel in her crown. Cumbia. Mariachi. Tejano rhythms. Selena brought it all to the modern pop scene. And unlike the wilted flower in this song, her impact hasn’t faded for a moment in the 30 years since her death.
Livin’ la Vida Loca -- Ricky Martin (1999)
We bet you can’t read this title without hearing Ricky Martin’s voice singing alongside a chorus of horns in your head. Really, it’s a close call what the song’s most important accomplishment was -- kicking off the ‘90s Latin explosion or acting as the perfect closing number in Shrek 2.
Gasolina -- Daddy Yankee (2004)
Before there was Bad Bunny, there was Daddy Yankee. This 2004 dance floor classic almost single-handedly popularized reggaeton. Sure, it broke all kinds of records in the process -- the best-selling Latin album of the decade, the first reggae album to hit number 1 on Billboard Latin charts, etc., etc. But beyond that, it’s catchy like no one’s business. Dame más gasolina, indeed.
Danza Kuduro -- Don Omar (2010)
Clubs. Bars. Weddings. There’s no end to the events -- and playlists -- where you’re destined to hear this reggae-infused banger. Maybe it’s cheating to put this on our Latin playlist when Lucenzo’s verse is in Portuguese … but if listening to Danza Kuduro is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Vivir Mi Vida -- Marc Anthony (2013)
One of those songs you can’t listen to without smiling. Marc Anthony himself described this classic as an “homage to life” and we couldn’t agree more. Listen to the pop version for the full Latin pop experience, or stick to the salsa-fied original. There are no wrong answers, only good vibes.
La Bicicleta -- Shakira and Carlos Vives (2017)
Okay, our list may be looking a little Puerto Rico-skewed after the last three picks. Don’t worry -- we’re evening the score with this catchy collab from two of Colombia’s favorite icons. Pop this song on aux and suddenly, you’re no longer sitting in rush hour -- you’re cruising the Colombian coastline on a banana-seat cruiser. That’s just the Carlos-Shakira magic.
Tití Me Preguntó -- Bad Bunny (2022)
It’s a Latin trap banger. It’s an ode to Dominican dembow. Most importantly, it’s the anthem for single young people who must bravely fend off a relative’s questions about their love lives (or lack thereof) every time they visit home. Relatable. Danceable. What’s not to love?
MAMIII -- Becky G and Karol G (2022)
Watch out for the G team. Becky G and Karol G, two icons of Latin pop, teamed up for their first-ever, long-awaited collab on this feel-good breakup anthem. First two words that come to mind? Girl and power. Cliche but true.
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