Heavy hitters like Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, Anitta, Rauw Alejandro, Karol G and Christian Nodal provided an eclectic soundtrack to the first half of 2021, with songs that cover the Latin sonic spectrum — including cumbia, perreo, corridos, and hip-hop fused with regional Mexican. But rising artists such as Eslabon Armado, Maria Becerra, Duki and C. Tangana also rose to the occasion, delivering tracks worthy of a mention on our top songs list.
From major hits like Alejandro’s disco pop summer anthem “Todo De Ti,” to Tangana’s melancholic “Tu Me Dejaste de Querer,” which laces bachata rhythms, old-school reggaetón beats and traditional flamenco, here are our editors’ picks for our favorite 25 Latin singles of 2021 (so far), arranged in alphabetical order by artist.
Anitta, “Girl From Rio”
The iconic bossa nova Brazilian classic “The Girl From Ipanema” gets a fresh and modern twist thanks to Anitta. The Brazilian star’s take on the classic pairs acoustic guitars with Anitta’s sweet vocals and trap melodies. The song’s lyrics talk about the beauty of Brazilian girls; real girls with big curves and tan lines. “Let me tell you about a different Rio, the one I’m from, but not the one that you know,” she sings. Anitta also recharged the song with an official remix featuring DaBaby, positioning them as two entwined lovers. — INGRID FAJARDO
Anuel AA & Ozuna, “Antes”
Anuel and Ozuna joined forces earlier this year to bless fans with their joint album, Los Dioses. “Antes” is one of the first tracks released by the Puerto Rican superstar duo, with melancholic lyrics about an unforgettable lover. “And where did it end up? I have that memory accumulated/ And where did it go? You have no idea how much I’d love to,” Ozuna chants. — I.F.
Bad Bunny, “Yonaguni”
Mixing reggaetón beats with a chill vibe and vocal melodies, the melancholic “Yonaguni” solidified Bunny’s global reach as the Spanish-Japanese track arrived at No. 3 and No. 4 on the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts (dated June 19), respectively. Released in June, El Conejo Malo’s heartbreak track, inspired by a Japanese island, quickly became the quintessential summer romance anthem. — GRISELDA FLORES
Camilo, Los Dos Carnales, “Tuyo Y Mío”
When Camilo DM’d Los Dos Carnales “let’s do a song together,” he intended to follow through. The Colombian singer-songwriter and regional Mexican duo teamed up for the norteña anthem “Tuyo Y Mío,” an achingly beautiful track about love and growing old with your significant other. “I like you and I want to be with you an entire lifetime/ By your side, I want to grow old/ With you, the future seems prettier,” Camilo sings over a bajo quinto and an accordion. — G.F.
C. Tangana, “Tu Me Dejaste de Querer”
As always, C. Tangana pours his heart out in an honest and melancholic song about heartbreak, where he teamed up with renowned Spanish singer La Hungara and up-and-comer Niño de Elche. “You stopped loving me when I least expected it/ When I loved you the most/ You had no desire,” bemoans the song, co-produced with his longtime producer Alizzz. With Hungara and de Elche on the track, El Madrileño beautifully laces bachata rhythms, old-school reggaetón beats and traditional flamenco, bringing to life an edgy fusion that he dubs as “rumbachata.” — JESSICA ROIZ
Carla Morrison, “Obra de Arte”
Pop darling Carla Morrison has been on a journey of liberation, and her recently-released singles are a reflection of that trek. Her latest, “Obra de Arte (Work of Art),” is no exception. It’s part three of a series that has documented Morrison’s reality with anxiety (“Ansiedad”) and her struggle to free herself from things that have been holding her (“No Me Llames”). On the momentous “Obra de Arte,” an empowering anthem about acceptance, she sings about letting go of societal expectations and practicing self-love, declaring: “I give life, I’m from the sky/ I shine in every moment/ I’m a woman/ I am the origin of every good thing in you.” — G.F.
Crissin, Totoy El Frio & Natan & Shander, “Poblado”
“Poblado” — named after El Poblado, a metropolitan area in Medellín with chic boutiques and high-end restaurants — is a sultry reggaetón jam that speaks of a man who’s trying to win over a woman with his luxurious lifestyle. It brings to the forefront three exciting rising Colombian acts: Crissin, Totoy El Frio, and duo Natan & Shander, the latter one of Billboard’s Emerging Artists to Discover in 2021. The song’s success on the charts and TikTok ultimately caught the attention of reggaetón superstars J Balvin, Karol G, and Nicky Jam, who dropped the “Poblado” remix six months after the original release. — J.R.
Daddy Yankee, “Problema”
Daddy Yankee’s first single of 2021, and the one that captured his 24th No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay chart, returns the superstar to his roots with an infectious reggaetón beat that later transforms into an old-school perreo. The lyrics tell the story of a problematic girl who prides herself in always being the center of attention. “You’re a challenge for me, like those on TikTok,” he chants. — I.F.
Duki & Khea, “Wacha”
“Wacha” is a gamechanger in the careers of Duki and Khea, two of Argentina’s leading trap artists. Slang for “girl,” “Wacha” kicks off as a romantic piano ballad — and then, 48 seconds in, the beat transitions to a catchy cumbia, really setting the tone for the rest of the song — inspired by “cachengue” (Argentine slang for parties). In an innovative rollercoaster of melodies, Khea and Duki sing over cumbia, then trap, and even reggaetón. In the music video, directed by Facundo Ballve of Anestesia Audiovisual, the trap stars bring the “cachengue” to life — joined by a wave of famous Argentines, including pop-urban songstress Emilia Mernes. — J.R.
Eslabon Armado, Ulices Chaidez, “Te Encontré”
DEL Records’ Ulices Chaidez and Eslabon Armado dropped “Te Encontré (I Found You)” back in February, just in times for Valentine’s Day. Led by acoustic guitars, the regional Mexican ballad narrates the ultimate love story, where two strangers fall in love after multiple encounters in a coffee shop. “It was because of you that I found myself smiling over anything,” Chaidez sings. “And just like that my heartbeats increased overnight,” Eslabon’s Pedro Tovar adds. — G.F.
Gera MX, Christian Nodal “Botella Tras Botella”
Mexican rapper Gera MX and Regional Mexican star Christian Nodal teamed up for the ultimate breakup song about hanging out with the boys and drinking your sorrows away. Lacing both of their genres, the Erick Gutierrez Cervantes- and Edgar Barrera-co-produced “Botella Tras Botella” is a country-tinged acoustic ranchera with hip-hop beats. But more than just its hybrid melody and easy-to-sing lyrics, the song has had a global appeal because, as Gera says, it simply has soul. “I can’t find any other explanation [for its success], and it’s beautiful,” the MC told Billboard. “Botella Tras Botella” made history on the Hot 100 this year, as the first Regional Mexican title to enter the listing in its near-63-year history. – J.R.
Guaynaa & Los Angeles Azules, “Cumbia a la Gente”
Puerto Rican artist Guaynaa and Mexican cambia supergroup Los Angeles Azules’ teamed up for the eclectic “Cumbia a la Gente.” The song fuses the best of both worlds: Guaynaa’s modern perreo and Los Angeles signature cumbia sonidera. Clarinets, trumpets, güiras, and other instruments shine in the hip-shaking bop. — G.F.
J Balvin & Maria Becerra, “Qué Más Pues”
J Balvin has been collaborating a lot with emerging artists this year — including Argentine newcomer Maria Becerra on his “Que Mas Pues” track, a melodious reggaetón track surrounded with catchy hooks left and right. Produced by Jeff Kleinman and Sky Rompiendo, Balvin and Becerra go back and forth on a relationship that didn’t work out and will never work out. The harmonies on this bop are a particular standout, Balvin with his distinct voice and Becerra with her dulcet vocals. At some point, Balvin even lifts from Aqua’s ’90s dance-pop hit “Barbie Girl.” — J.R.
Jhay Cortez, Wisin & Los Legendarios, “Fiel”
“Fiel” has become one of the most popular Latin songs of the year, fueled by its success on TikTok, which has inspired over 2.1 million videos on the app. Helmed by Los Legendarios, Wisin, and Jhay Cortez, the infectious reggaetón smash, taken from the Los Legendarios 001 album, is about having a crush on an independent woman. “The people made it viral,” artist-producers Los Legendarios told Billboard. Wisin added: “It’s refreshing, and one of my favorite songs on the album because it captivates your ear. The song’s success on social media resulted in a star-studded remix with Myke Towers and Anuel AA just four months after its release. — J.R.
Karol G, “200 Copas”
On this track, the Colombian artist leaves behind her edgy reggaetón sound and dips her toes in her first-ever corrido tumbao. Co-written with Ovy on the Drums and rising Mexican artist Danny Felix, Karol not only shares her best advice to a friend but also accompanies her in her heartbreak. “Friend, leave that clown alone/ If they pay him to make you suffer, he would already be a millionaire/ From now on he becomes an adversary/ And today we go out to drink if necessary,” she chants. Its raw lyrics and authentic music video, where she’s hanging out with friends at the beach, have made “200 Copas” a fan favorite. — J.R.
Maluma, “Agua de Jamaica”
Maluma’s smooth-talking skills take center stage in “Agua de Jamaica,” a cheeky track that treads on raunchy and romantic territory. “I don’t know about you but I’ve been dying for this moment,” Maluma sings over a soft reggaetón beat. “In your body I find life, and I’ll do whatever you want me to do to you.” There’s nothing quite like Maluma’s slowed-down, romantic reggaetón songs and “Agua de Jamaica” is a gem that stands out from his EP, #7DJ. — G.F.
Mon Laferte & Gloria Trevi “La Mujer”
Mon Laferte’s “La Mujer” took on a whole new meaning thanks to fresh lyrics and a dream collaboration with Mexican star Gloria Trevi. The change in the lyrics is subtle but poignant, evolving from “I am that woman of the overdose/ I am that woman that you know so well” to “I am that woman/ I am your overdose/ I am that woman that you know nothing about.” True to both artists’ essence, the song is at its core pop — but comes with a twist, thanks to vibrant percussion backings and a soaring trumpet that carries the track. — G.F.
Natanael Cano, “Diamantes”
Natanael Cano’s slick guitar-playing skills take center stage in “Diamantes,” off his new album A Mis 20. A departure from the 20-year-old’s hard-hitting and sometimes raunchy trap corridos, the confessional “Diamantes” allows Cano to slow down and reflect on his fast-paced lifestyle and stardom. “My wrist is covered in diamonds/ It’s true I’m not the same person I was before,” he confesses. “My mother doesn’t suffer anymore and seems different/ She doesn’t worry because she doesn’t have anything to worry about anymore.” — G.F.
Nathy Peluso, “Mafiosa”
Nathy Peluso is a salsa lover at heart and in singles such as “Veneno” and her latest, “Mafiosa,” she makes sure to pay tribute to the tropical genre. Leading a live salsa orchestra (piano, trumpet, congas, guira, and more instruments), the Argentine singer-songwriter delivers a bossed-up track about finding her self-worth and being the most powerful woman in the block. “I’m going to be a gangster, a wonder woman/ May bad men fear me/ When I arrive in my car/ They despair/ They get scared and speed away,” goes the saucy chorus. She’s a dangerous and empowered woman on the loose, sending a clear message in “Mafiosa”: Men are afraid of powerful women. — J.R.
Natti Natasha& Becky G, “Ram Pam Pam”
Natti Natasha and Becky G join forces once again on “Ram Pam Pam,” three years after dropping their 2018 banger “Sin Pijama.” A hard-hitting reggaetón song with Middle Eastern influences, the track serves as a new female anthem about a woman who’s no pendeja and has a message for her ex. “I won’t make mistakes again/ And much less with someone like you/ Who treats me bad/ I don’t get sad if I don’t see you/ You looked for it/ My heart doesn’t beg you, it’s an atheist,” Natti kicks off the track. “Ram Pam Pam,” which samples Daddy Yankee’s “Ella Me Levantó,” is a sequel to Natti’s all-female perreo “Las Nenas,” featuring Farina, Cazzu and newcomer Duraca. — J.R.
Nicky Jam, Romeo Santos, “Fan de tus Fotos”
Nicky Jam and Romeo Santos joined forces once again on the catchy reggaetón single “Fan de tus Fotos.” The song, as the title indicates, is about a person who’s falling head over heels for someone else just by looking at their photos. “I’m like a fan just looking at your photos. I’m going crazy thinking I can touch you,” the pair sing. In a clever music video, both Nicky and Romeo portray co-workers who daydream over their boss, who they think has been sending them mixed messages. The track peaked at No. 1 on Latin Airplay in April. — G.F.
Nio Garcia “AM”
Produced by Flow La Movie, Xound, Botlok and Yama, “AM” marked Garcia’s first single of 2021. It’s a saucy reggaetón track that cleverly counts from one to 10 to describe everything he wants to do to a girl. Although it was never in his plans, a remix with J Balvin and Bad Bunny came five months later. Balvin was the first one to propose the idea and Bunny jumped on board two days before the “AM” remix dropped. “I was taken by surprise,” Garcia admits. “I couldn’t believe that I managed to make another collection piece.” On the Billboard charts, García scored his fourth top 10 on Hot Latin Songs, and his highest debut on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, as the song bowed at No. 41 in July. — J.R.
Rauw Alejandro, “Todo de Ti”
A departure from his signature urban-leaning sonority, Rauw Alejandro released a dance-pop track that’s quickly become this summer’s anthem. Produced by Mr. NaisGai, “Todo De Ti” allows Alejandro to show off not only his dancing abilities and roller-skating skills, but also his chameleonic abilities to shift gears and go from hardcore reggaetón to a sweet, groovy pop tune. Spreading ’80s dance-floor nostalgia, the track is accompanied by an atmospheric video directed by Marlon Peña. Watch for smooth dance moves and a cameo by four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal who joins Alejandro and company in a skating ring dance battle. The track peaked at No. 32 on Billboard’s Hot 100. — G.F.
Sebastian Yatra, Myke Towers “Pareja del Año”
A beautiful and perfect song that opens with the sounds of the strings of violins and blends classical with urban music. The first collaboration between Sebastian Yatra and Myke Towers, the artists fuse their signature sounds on the single about an impossible love that, if it were to come true, would be dubbed the “couple of the year.” The track was produced by Grammy winners Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengif. —I.F.
Sech, “Sal & Perrea”
The song can be an anthem for broken hearts or simply an empowering reggaetón banger to help drown out your sorrows. It perfectly describes what you need to do after a breakup, and reminds you that tequila can cure problems of the heart. The lyrics talk about a relationship that is over and a reminder that life goes on, and Sech proposes: be happy and dance reggaetón. “Not even if they throw me the bouquet, I will marry,” he repeats in the chorus over a catchy old-school thumping beat, mixed with Sech’s Panamanian signature flow and dembow. — I.F.