Latin Wave in Asia

I remember when Ricky Martin exploded into the worldwide pop scene with those shaking hips, and really tight leather pants. Everyone went pretty nuts about it, and launched the careers of many from Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony… Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira – who’s stayed a blond since then.

But before them, there were other songs that did their rounds around the world. Possibly the most popular ones are La Bamba made famous in the 80s by Ritchie Valens, and Consuelo Velázquez’ hit Bésame Mucho.

In this list — no order preference — of songs by Asian musicians with some Latin flavor, some have decided to give songs their own spin, some others have done lyrics in their own language, and others are giving the language a spin.

Bésame Mucho

Possibly one of the most recognized Latin songs around the world. It’s passionate, it’s longing and fear, all into one song with smokey vocals. It’s hard to believe Velázquez was only fifteen when she wrote it.

The song is so famous that is the easiest song to find a cover for. From movie soundtracks, to live performances from renown artists, to contestants. Like Vietnamese singer Bach Yen’s version, with a very nice accent, or Japanese-Brazilian singer Lisa Ono’s version.

But how about One Million Star 2009 runner-up Rose Liu (劉明湘) featuring the Herb Jazz Quintet?

¿Quién Será?

Continuing with Lisa Ono’s music, since she’s Brazilian-born, she has an advantage with Spanish and Portuguese pronunciation, and her version of ¿Quién Será? is a proof of that. The song written by Mexican Pablo Beltrán Ruiz.

Livin’ la Vida Loca

Obviously, if we talk about Latin songs, everyone’s going to be mentioning Ricky Martin. Though, South Korean Shin Hye Sung, from boyband Shinhwa, did an excellent job with his version… we gotta give it to Japanese Hiromi Go for his version of the song titled Goldfinger 99. Seriously.

Oye el Boom

Since we are talking about Hiromi Go, why don’t we also discuss his version of Spanish singer David Bisbal’s Oye el Boom, which Go changed to simply Boom Boom Boom.


Though originally a song by Bolivian group Los Kjarkas called Llorando se Fue, the song exploded into the world pop music scene with the French/Brazilian version of the song Lambada, sexy dance on the beach and all.

Dance on the beach indeed with this version of Akemi Ishii.


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

4 Responses

  1. ghost says:

    Li Yuchun is an interesting example. From the few samples in her discography, we can think that she kind of loves Latin flavor… which makes her adorable. Obviously, in China they think she’s the hottest thing ever.

    She also has a song called Amor. Can’t get more Latin-influenced than that. She should think of traveling through the region for more influences. Latin people love it when foreign acts do Latin songs.

    Also excited about Laure Shang listening to Latin American songs.

    • amy says:

      @ghost, the Chinese embassy should think of taking Chris Lee in a Latin American tour to promote the links between the regions.

      Can you imagine her watching Buena Vista Club Social? She would lose it. They will find her hilarious. Cuba and China relations through the arts…

  2. ROXY says:

    That’s very interesting. Sounds odd to me as a native xD But I would sound odd to them if I did it in Japanese (even worse in Chinese lol).

    I always remember my dad mentioning a group of Japanese who did covers of El Gran Combo. That has always left me wondering about them but I’ve never looked into it. El Gran Combo is so damned Puerto Rican in their lyrics that it HAS to sound funny coming from Japanese men.

    • amy says:

      @ROXY, it’s like when people look at me talking in Spanish and they wonder what part of China speaks Spanish – no kidding, true story.

      I think our brains are wired in a certain way, and when things happened that aren’t fixed in it, it looks odd. Like the Nigerian singer who sings R&B in Mandarin and Beijing Opera, or even Jero who does Enka.

      So many things to talk about in YAM posts, so little time to investigate and write xD

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