3. Gloria Estefan – Mi Tierra
Gloria Estefan is probably the biggest Latin star, though Ricky Martin can give her a run for her money… and Shakira, well… Shakira is not really singing Latin music anymore, is she?
Gloria Estefan released the Mi Tierra album in 1993, her first proper Latin album… and her single Mi Tierra (duh!) became a huge hit. It even became a hit in English-speaking countries… in English language lists. The song talks about one’s own country, their roots, and how those memories are so deeply rooted, that it hurts but you can never let go.
I hear the scream of the drums
and the timbales as they dance,
and that cry by a brother,
who lives far away from his land.
And the memory makes him cry,
a song that lives on,
from the pain of his own crying,
and you hear it haunting.
The land where you were born
you can’t let it go,
because you’ve got your roots,
and what you leave behind.
The crying, the melancholia,
each night next to the moon,
The guajiro keeps on singing.
And each street in my town,
it has a moan, it has a sorrow,
it has a nostalgia like a voice,
a song that lives on,
it runs in the blood, and keeps on coming,
stronger against your heart.
2. Molotov – Gimme tha Power
Alternative Mexican band Molotov are famous for their… er some questionable content in their videos and songs. They’re highly political, a bit abrasive, but have lots of energy, and are… in their own way, playful.
Taken from their 1997 debut album ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas? (Where Will the Girls Play?), Molotov released Gimme tha Power, a political song about the injustice of the government that puts you down by calling you a delinquent, but still takes your money. The biggest hook comes with the chorus “dame dame dame, dame todo el power / para que te demos en la madre / gimme gimme gimme, gimme todo el poder / so I can come around tu joder” — which, I don’t think I need to translate.
1. Los Prisioneros – We Are Sudamerican Rockers
Chilean rock band Los Prisioneros are probably the most symbolic band in terms of Latin American identity. Their songs, often political, talked about what it’s like for Latin Americans living in their countries under authoritarian ruling, or Latin Americans abroad being put down for being Latin American.
In their song We Are Sudamerican Rockers (obviously a Spanglish play on the word South American), they talk about the difference in perception of foreign rockers and their South American counterparts. In the lyrics they say “It’s like Rock N’Roll / pure garbage music / modified a little bit so it can sound the same / we make fools out of ourselves to call attention / but we don’t care / plagiarizing and copying like everyone else / Elvis! Toss and turn in your crypt! / We are sudamerican rockers / nous sommes rockers sudamericaines”
The song came out in 1987, the first music video played in MTV Latin America, and it played continuously on the radio for the next twenty years. If they play the song out loud, chances are that someone will burst into song with it.
So that’s it!
What do you think of the list?
Any songs that are missing?
What do you think of the quality in themes of other places anthems?
You live somewhere else other than America, and you know other songs we don’t? Tell us about them.