Salsa originally emerged in popularity in Cuba. Salsa gained renowned recognition as one of the most popular dances in numerous major music centers of the United States as a result of the influx of Dominican and Puerto Rican workers to the continental United States.
Being the festive kind of dance, it inspired a lot of great salsa songs over time, and artists are still incorporating a part of the salsa spirit in most modern Latin music. Let us take a look at 25 of the greatest salsa songs of all time.
1. Lloraras – Oscar D’Leon
A song “saucy” in both melodic and lyrical regard, the song’s title is literally translated to “You’ll Cry” in English. The beautiful mix of beat and instruments, coupled with the story of a passionate desire to get back after a cheating lover makes for one gorgeous track to dance with.
“You will regret, and inexpensive you will have to pay for all my suffering, you will cry and cry. Without someone to comfort you. So you will realize that if they cheat on you, it hurts. And then you will come to me, asking me for forgiveness. But already my heart. He doesn’t remember you anymore, you will cry and cry”
2. El Preso – Fruko y Sus Tesos
A rather mournful feeling surrounds El Preso, very fitting for its depiction of life in prison. However, it does not make it less perfect for a salsa song, with very deep emotions entrenched in the song’s arrangement.
“In the world that I live in. There are always four corners. But between corners, there will always be the same. For me, there is no heaven neither moon nor star. For me the sun does not shine, for me everything is darkness.”
3. La Rebelion – Joe Arroyo
From the title alone, it is easy to deduce the rebelliousness in Joe Arroyo’s La Rebellion. This 1995 classic bravely puts in lyrics about an important part of American history, albeit a somber one. The lyrics are juxtaposed by an elegantly sounding tune.
“They kissed my land perpetual slavery let me say Salome Uh, give you I arrive. I arrive at an African couple Slaves of Spanish. He treated them very badly, And he hit his black
And it was there, the handsome black man rebelled”
4. Tu Carinito – Puerto Rican Power
Tu Carinito boasts a loud, modernistic flow of salsa music. A very fun song to sway one’s hips with, it is a classic song about a crazed person dying without the presence of his lover.
“I’m looking for you like crazy around the world. And without you, I can’t stand a second.
Someone come tell me now. If you have seen her around here or have you seen it over there, I’ve already lost track of time. I don’t know the hour, the day, or the moment. If someone knows tell me now, If a year, a century, or an eternity has passed. Because I want you to come back to me”
5. Vivir Mi Vida – Marc Anthony
Dancing is about life, and this song is literally about living freely, unbounded, and rejoicefully. This enlivened music by Marc Anthony ravaged the Latin American scene during its release.
“Sometimes the rain comes, to clean the wounds. Sometimes just a drop, you can beat the drought. And why cry? What for If a sorrow hurts, it is forgotten And why suffer, why? If that’s life, you have to live it, la la la I am going to laugh. I am going to dance. Live my life lalalala”
6. Periodico de Ayer – Hector Lavoe
In a melancholy dance track. Hector Lavoe declares, “Your love is yesterday’s newspaper.” Throughout the song, he spins this lyrical metaphor, comparing his former lover to “a newspaper clipping that I put in my album of oblivion.” With its flowing rhythm, this song will soothe any grieving heart.
“Your love is a newspaper from yesterday. That no one else tries to read, Sensational when he left at dawn at noon already confirmed news and in the afternoon forgotten matter. Your love is a newspaper from yesterday, it was the headline that reached the entire page. That’s why they already know you wherever they want”
7. El Raton – Joe Cuba Sextet & Cheo Feliciano
El Raton is based on a true story about a man who likes to go out and have fun without his wife, but there is somehow a “rat” always waiting to catch him and put risk him in trouble. The song captures the mood of a man living a double life.
“Let’s see if he can escape without her being able to see it and not so soon, not so soon it’s partying wild feline have to run. This is serious my friend. Hey, what a mess that mess is going to form. When my kitty knows. And the reason is so simple, he who tells his cat. That he tells his cat ain’t nothin’ but a mouse, a mouse.”
8. Yambeque – La Sonora Poncena
“Yambeque” was intended to get the listeners up and dancing, highlighting how amazing people look while they’re dancing to the music. The percussion just shouts an invitation for a fantastic salsa session.
“When someone listens to my drum, I feel an emotion. Enjoy! good rumbero Tumba and bongo Rhythm of the yambago. And it comes out of my soul This rich improvisation Enjoy”
9. Sonido Bestial – Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz
This track, which appears on the album “El Bestial de Sonido” combines elements of classical music that were novel to salsa at the time. A true classic, it is full of innovative ideas that make the perfect salsa track.
“You who said that it was no longer useful. Hey, you who said that I didn’t go out anymore Right now, my friend. I come to greet you listen, listen. Hear the trumpets sound, hear the leather sound Ricardo comes from the front with his bestial sound”
10. Las Caras Lindas – Ismael Rivera
“Las Caras Lindas” is a track that celebrates the artist’s Afro-American heritage. Rivera’s moving voice is an experience for the listener by itself. Rivera was able to build a brand around himself because of his distinct voice and straightforward style of singing.
“The pretty faces of my black people. They’re a molasses parade in bloom that when he passes in front of me, he is happy. From its blackness all the heart, the pretty faces of my dark race. They have crying, sorrow, and pain. They are the truths that life challenges but they carry a lot of love inside. We are the molasses that laughs the molasses that cries. We are the molasses that love.”
11. Mi Gente – Hector Lavoe
Lavoe is considered the greatest artist in salsa history and does not disappoint in this track. Nothing could do the job better than Hector’s voice in professing profound respect and love for his people. “My people, My people, you! The greatest thing in this world always makes me feel. I called them to come with me. They didn’t ask me where I am proud of you”
12. Ven, Devorame Otra Vez – Lalo Rodriguez
Lalo Rodrguez wishes for a lady to return and “devour” him once more. With bold letters and even bolder music, it is not hard to love and get addicted to the feelings this track causes people to feel.
“Devour me again, come, devour me again. Come, punish me with your wishes, more. May the vigor keep it for you, oh, come. Devour me again, come, devour me again. That my mouth tastes like your body my desire for you despairs. Even in dreams, I thought I had you devouring me. And I wet my white sheets crying for you. In my bed, nobody is like you”
13. Dile a Ella – Victor Manuelle
Manuelle leaves an optimistic taste in this track after a supposed bitter end to an affair. The last bits of the song perfectly reflects this mood, and it deserves a spot on this list.
“Goodbye was better. That for me he knew the disappointment. Tell her that despite the time I have not been able to forget her, I remember her tender look. When he told me love, I will never stop loving you. Tell her that despite everything I carry her in my soul that I wake up every morning. Thinking about the things that I could find with her.”
14. Soledad – La-33
“Oh, don’t go away from me, woman. Because I swear I’m lost if you’re not by my side (if you leave). Oh, I don’t know what to do if you leave, oh on my side. Soledad (if you leave) Hey, my life. I swear that everything is going to end for me (if you leave). Oh, my breathing and my heart will stop, a woman (if you leave). Oh, if you go, good mommy. I swear I’ll die”
15. Vamonos pa’I Monte – Eddie Palmieri
This tune by the famous Eddie Palmieri with a Latin Jazz twist demonstrates his remarkable musical expertise. No wonder he’s won 3 grammy awards and is still blessing people with terrific music today.
“This world is lost and although that matters to me. I can’t help it. I’m still happy and happy, I’m happy, (Let’s go to the mountain, to the mountain for huarachar).
(Let’s go to the mountain, I like the mountain better) Here in the big cities, you see a lot of congestion. But there on my mountain there is space and fascination. (Let’s go to the mountain to the mountain for huarachar) (Let’s go to the mountain. I like the mountain better)”
16. Tiahuanaco – Alfredito Linares
With few words in between, you can savor the amazing music in this track whether you dance salsa or not.
“There is a wedding, whoever has something to say. Keep your mouth shut. Her wedding has to be the best. It will be full of affection and also a lot of love. Her wedding will always be commented on. Well, you’re going to see a lot of champagne and also pina Coladas. I will not be able to go to her wedding. Because she was my love and she has forbidden me.”
17. Fuego en el 23 – La Sonora Poncena
This song has an incredible background, “Fire on 23rd” is a 1957 song based on a true tale about a brilliant Cuban composer and performer named Arsenio Rodriguez. He created and performed regularly at the famed Palladium on Broadway in New York, despite being blind since boyhood due to an accident.
Expert Tip: This song was written after he was saved from a big fire in his apartment building by vocalist Luis Kortright, and was later covered by La Sonora Poncea.
“There’s fire on twenty-three, on twenty-three. Some say, some say it was at 1. And I tell them that it was at three. There’s fire on twenty-three, on twenty-three. Jose looked, Jose Molina looked that they hit him with gasoline. There’s fire on twenty-three, on twenty-three. But Mama, but Mama blessed fire. Fire under your skin.”
18. Quitate Tu – Fania All Stars
Quitate Tu has a festive vibe in it more than the usual salsa song. Every salsa music playlist should contain at least one song from the historic 1969 performance of the Fania All-Stars.
“With this tasty rhythm, I make them hesitate. As a fania artist, I put them all to enjoy, come, come. Take off you to put me on, take off you. Take off you to put me on, take off you. Do not leave for tomorrow (what thing). What can be done today (what thing what is it)? That no, no, no, don’t leave for tomorrow (tell me what or what). What can be done today?”
19. Ay Amor Cuando Hablan Las Miradas – Orquesta Guayacan
Alexis Lozano (previously of Grupo Niche) created Orquesta Guayacan, a Colombian salsa music band that rose to fame in the 1990s. Being one of the most prominent salsa bands, this track is one of their best offspring.
“I’ll take your hand gently. I will talk to you about love while we dance things of yesterday we say nothing because now the look has arrived, take my hand gently tell me you love me while you dance kisses and caresses I just wait. I want to feel your breath, take my hand gently and sweetly make me feel that our love exists”
20. Candela – Buena Vista Social Club
“Candela, I’m on fire!” Ibrahim Ferrer’s vocals reveal his passionate sentiments of love for Candela” as he weaves sexual innuendos throughout the rest of this upbeat and enjoyable tune.
“A cat also came, elegant and pleasant, ‘Good night, mate’ The timpani always said that way, ‘For someone here to be able to touch. To rest a bit.’ The mouse came out half crazy,
‘I’m also going to rest.’ And the cat in his good dance danced a Light danzon. The mouse got on the guano, and says “Very pleasant. And now if you want to dance, find yourself Another drummer!”
21. Que hay de malo? – Jerry Rivera
“Is there anything bad?” is about a person who wonders. “What’s so bad?” about falling in love with a woman whose father forbids her from dating him. It is a track reminding men of a time they most probably have once been in.
“To your father as usual, he has given it because you resign. To the love that I kept for you. He has forbidden you to mention my name, even if you suffer everything you suffer. Leaving you from me, he is happy. What’s wrong with loving you? As I love you, give you a flower and live for you. Comfort your soul if it seeks comfort in me.”
22. Anuncio Clasificado – Willie Rosario
Willie Rosario is a salsa performer who began his career in the early 1950s and was elected into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2002. This track is a familiar one with most salsa enthusiasts.
“l want a simple girl, who loves me tenderly, kind, good, and beautiful with whom I feel safe. That’s why I posted an ad with this classified. Answer me, please. You would be a little better.”
23. Indestructible – Ray Barretto
Ray Barretto was able to bring in a new array of excellent talent for the recording of this album after a few key members of his orchestra left to pursue their own projects. It ended up being one of his greatest. An indestructible track, indeed.
“When in life you suffer a wound because you lose blood dear. At that moment take destiny with the help of new blood. When in the soul you feel pain, for the betrayal that a friend gives you. At that moment he thinks that everything is possible. That with the new blood is the indestructible force”
24. La Temperatura – Los Hermanos Lebron
La temperature turns up the heat when it is on the radio. This track is about a man disregarding rules for the woman he loves just like most of us.
“Every time I see you, I don’t care where it is. My eyes want to pop out for your beauty. And I even lose control, I would like to fall in love with you. And tell you that I love you but I haven’t made it yet. No, no, I haven’t made it. I would like to be with you.”
It’s a fairly brutal narrative about life ‘en el barrio’ in New York City, inspired by the song ‘Mack the Knife’ (‘navaja’ means ‘knife’ or ‘razor blade’ in Spanish). The song contains a lot of dark sarcasm.
“Evelyn, come here. I saw him pass by the corner of the old neighborhood. With the tumbao that handsome men have when walking. Hands are always in the pockets of his coat. So that they do not know in which of them he carries the dagger. Wear a wide-brimmed, half-round hat and slippers, in case there are problems to go out, fly. Dark glasses so they don’t know what you’re looking at. And a gold tooth, that when he laughs shines.”
Everybody likes having fun. And what better way to have fun other than drinking and dancing? Salsa is a celebration of life in Latin culture, but it would not be complete without a piece of complimentary music. We hope this list of the best salsa songs entertained you and made you want to get up and do some salsa!