Welcome back to our series on exploring Latin culture and language through music. There is no better tool than music to dive deep into the history and cultural nuances of Latin America. So far, we’ve looked at the history of salsa, merengue, and other Latin ballroom dances. But what about good ol’ Latin Rock & Roll?!
Everything You Need to Know About Latin Rock Music
Today we’ll explore the world of Latin rock and cover the following:
- How rock music varies between the U.S. and Latin America
- Latin rock history
- Iconic Latin rock artists & classic Latin rock songs
- Fun facts about Latin rock that will make you a dinner table expert in the subject matter!
Let’s rock and roll!
Listen to this classic Argentinian rock while you read to get the full experience!
Latin Rock Music: Where Did Latin Rock Originate?
In this section, we discuss the different types of Latin rock and what cultures they represent.
Top Regions: Mexico, Argentina, Spain
Iconic Artists: Enanitos Verdes (Argentina), Maná (Mexico), Jarabe de Palo (Spain)
Jarabe de Palo
Let’s start by defining some terms. What, exactly do we mean by Latin rock music?
Latin Rock Terminology: Rock & Roll, Rock en español, and Latin Rock
Rock & Roll: A genre of popular music originating from the U.S. that adapted sounds from blues, jazz, R&B, and country and turned it into a cultural tsunami. This new sound finally acquired the name “Rock & Roll” in 1954.
Rock en Español: Traditional rock music sung with vocals in Spanish.
Latin Rock: A term used to describe a subgenre of music that mixed Latin and Caribbean influences with folk and traditional rock & roll. This music can also be alternative rock/pop/electric.
Latin rock is more than just rock & roll in Spanish, it is a fusion of sounds and identidades (identities). Even if you’re not much of a professional dancer, you might be a rockero!
But where is Latin rock from, and where will you hear it?
Latin Rock Bands: Mexico
Latin rock hit its peak in the ’80s and ’90s, and Mexican bands all over the map were standing center stage. But for the most part, it was a strictly domestic stage, with only a few exceptions.
Carlos Santana. This San Francisco based Mexican-American music icon exploded onto the rock scene at Woodstock in 1969. His sound is unmistakable. He continues to tour all over the world and collaborate with famous artists today.
Then there’s Maná, which, since the mid-1980s, has been one of Mexico’s most famous bands. The group has had insane success all over Latin America and is considered a classic when it comes to pop-rock.
Mexican rock has made limited advances outside the Spanish-speaking community. But naturally, as music becomes easier to produce and adopts more pop elements, it is more easily spread to a larger audience, which is what we are seeing today with Latin rock music.
Latin Rock Bands: Argentina
Before music became a global export, Bill Haley from the U.S. visited Argentina in 1958, and garage bands there took off!
Argentinians are known for being obsessed with rock & roll, partly because of their turbulent political past. They are no stranger to a good protest, which they like to pair with some suitable rebelde (rebellious) “bring down the man” music – it really gets them going!
Fun Fact: Some musical historians even speculate that Argentinians are more culturally inclined to favor rock because they share a similar colonial history with the U.S., including the widespread eradication of indigenous people and mass Pan-European immigration. This led to a familiar mix of influences from country and march music.
Latin Rock Bands: Spain
Spain is also a hot spot for Latin music. Even though the Spanish bands are not technically considered Latino, Latin Americans recognize and appreciate the amazing artistry of rock music coming out of Spain.
The sounds of Melendi and Jarabe de Palo dominate the Latin rock market, fusing electric guitars with vocals reminiscent of a time when Moors dominated the Iberian peninsula.
Why Does Latin Rock Matter in Latin America?
Mexico, Argentina, and Spain are the three hot spots of Latin media in the Spanish speaking world! Even though other countries produce Latin rock music (like rockeros in Uruguay and Chile), they are just not as widely known due to their lack of media influence.
Also, Mexico may have great rock, but they are not as attached to it as Argentinians because they consume a great deal of music in English, along with their own versions of ranchera (country) and cumbia music!
Argentina, on the other hand, has never been enamored with U.S. pop culture, and would prefer to consume British rock like the Beatles or their own epic cumbia music!
- Origin: The most famous producers of Latin rock include Mexico, Argentina, and Spain.
- Where Can You Hear It: A bit on the radio of both coasts in the U.S., in the car with your Mexican friend’s dad, or at any Argentinian gathering.
- Insider Insight: Share your love of rock with an Argentinian and become besties for life.
To really understand, you have to listen! Here’s a playlist of Latin rock music you can use to help improve your Spanish listening skills.
Latin Rock Music: Best Latin Rock Bands
Here is our Pimsleur’s Guide to Latin Music – Latin Rock Playlist of some of the most well-known Latin rock songs of our time.
- Maná- Labios Compartidos
- Soda Stereo- En La Ciudad de la Furia
- Enanitos Verdes- Mil Horas
- Maná- Oye Mi Amor
- Manu Chao- Me Gustas Tu
- Luis Alberto Spinetta- Muchacha Ojos de Papel
Before You Go, Check Out Our Other Latin American Music Articles
- Pimsleur’s Guide to Latin Music: Salsa
- Pimsleur’s Guide to Latin Music: Reggaeton
- Pimsleur’s Guide to Latin Music: Bachata
- Pimsleur’s Guide to Latin Music: Merengue
- Pimsleur’s Guide to Latin Music: Cumbia
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