Move over Mariah Carey, we’ve got cumbias and salsa. Songs that inspire those feet and sway those hips are a holiday staple in most Latino households. Then, as problematic faves tend to do, our brains forget about the rhythm momentarily and process what’s coming through our ears and uh…what did they just say? We’re bailando to what, exactly??
Let’s just say that some of these Salsa songs’ lyrics don’t quite match the mood of the fiesta season and a few cross the line into questionable or simply outdated narratives.
Yet there we are, dancing up a storm. Let’s take a look…
Rebelión by Joe Arroyo
First up is an all-time fave: Rebelión, also known as no le pegue a la negra. Joe brings a rich rhythm to a song about slavery. You’re suddenly screaming “ESCLAVITUD PERPETUA!!” like Joe isn’t crooning to some seriously hype beats while talking about how a white man beat an enslaved African woman and her husband sought revenge. Coquito, anyone? Awk.ward.
El Gran Varón – Willie Colon
A heartbreaking story about a trans woman disowned by her father with the woman later dying (presumably) from AIDS. This salsa song It’s a total banger until you realize that you’re happily dancing to a Trans Woman being rejected by her own father, then you stop and question if you should be crying instead. Not a very merry holiday mood inspired by this one.
El Preso – Fruko y sus Tesos
Life in prison shouldn’t be danceable like this, but it is, and tbh what can we do about it?
La Muerte – El Gran Combo
We literally are dancing to the beat of the inevitability of death. There’s no sugar-coating it. It talks about death. And we dance to it. During Christmas. But we dunno, maybe rightly so? What’s the saying? Death and taxes? We suppose that’s true during the holidays as well.
Llorarás – Oscar D’León
A song about the pain of someone cheating on you and hoping for their cosmic karma. And he sings it in the most cheerful tone!! We suppose revenge can be cheery.