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Spanish-Language Hit Music

Some Spanish Music Has Crashed Language Barrier of U.S. Radio

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Although Spanish-language songs were often performed in the United States during the Big Band era, it's almost unheard of now to turn on an English-language radio station and hear songs in a foreign language. Nevertheless, a handful of Spanish-language songs have become hit material in the United States since the 1950s, and so have some bilingual songs. Here's where you can find them.

La bamba (Los Lobos)

Los Lobos revived this '50s dance tune, which also became a movie theme.
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La bamba (Richie Valens)

Richie Valens was the first Mexican-American rock star in the U.S., and some of his songs (most of them in English) were popular in the late 1950s. His original name was Ricardo Valenzuela, but his agent wanted a less Mexican-sounding name.
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Macarena

The Spanish dance of this name (it was recorded in various mixtures of English and Spanish) was all the rage in 1996.
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Bailamos

This bilingual hit by Enrique Iglesias is also the title of his 1999 greatest-hits album. As its name suggests, it's a great tune to dance to, and it remains one of his most well-known Spanish songs for English-speaking audiences.
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Oye como va

A cover of this song, written in the 1960s by Cachao, a decade later was performed by Santana and was one of biggest hits of that band.
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Eres tú

"Eres Tú" was a hit for Mocedades in 1974.
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Guantanamera

It's little surprise that The Sandpipers chose this song, a 1966 hit and their best-known song, for the title of their biggest compilation album.
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Feliz Navidad

As much as anything, this repetitious bilingual hit by José Feliciano has made the phrase "feliz Navidad" understood even when Spanish isn't. It has become a modern holiday classic.
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El watusi

Roy Barretto, who was of Puerto Rican descent, made this mostly spoken (rather than sung) dance tune a hit in 1963. But reports are that he never particularly cared for it, and copies of it now are difficult to find.

Lo mucho que te quiero

Rene and Rene made this a midlevel hit in 1968, and a remake by Pedro Fernandes played briefly in 1993. It now can be difficult to find.
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