Mariachi has deep roots in folk music history, starting in 18th-century rural Mexico. Though this style is known for its use of several stringed instruments and singers in a large group, the types of mariachi are as varied as the musical pop genres around the world. From rancheras to ballads, from marches to polkas, this style is a broad and special type of music that speaks to the heart of Mexico.
We’ve gathered the 33 best mariachi songs here. Next time you find yourself at a Mexican party or restaurant, and mariachi bands are coming your way, you’ll know what to request.
1. El Son de la Negra – Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Easily one of the most loved mariachi songs of all time, this has even been called Mexico’s unofficial national anthem. Originally created in 1940 by Blas Galindo, this high-energy tune was adapted from a Mexican folk song. It is likely what people call to mind first when someone mentions mariachi. That’s because this song uses the traditional mariachi style.
“El Son De La Negra” is about separated lovers, though the lyrics can change somewhat depending on the performance and the performers. In Spanish, “Negra” can refer to a sweetheart and is sometimes translated to “my dear.”
2. Si Nos Dejan – José Alfredo Jiménez
Next up is “Si Nos Dejan,” which inspired a telenovela of the same name. Composed by José Alfredo Jiménez, this love ballad declares that “If they let us,” the two lovers will be faithful to each other for all time.
3. Mi Padre – Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
This is a melodic song that honors a son’s father. In the lyrics, the son reflects on what a strong influence his father has been, even through tough times. Dads love this one, and it’s a great choice to request for a night out when you want to celebrate your father.
The cheerful energy of the song keeps things from getting too emotional, but don’t be surprised if your parents shed a few tears of happiness when they hear this song.
4. Jarabe Tapatío – Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Chances are very good that you’ve heard this song somewhere, even if you know next to nothing about mariachi. Also known as the “Mexican Hat Dance,” this is sometimes performed without lyrics, though lyrics do exist. The words primarily encourage the listener to get up and dance the steps of this much-loved mariachi tune. This song has been so beloved for so long that it’s even become the official dance of Mexico.
It’s often performed at traditional events, complete with beautiful costumes for the dancers. If you get a chance to see this one performed, you won’t regret it.
5. Guadalajara – Mariachi Sol De México
Originally composed in 1937, this song is a tribute to the city of the same name. It’s been recorded countless times—even by non-Mexican performers. Listen to this Mexican recording and then make sure to keep an ear out for Elvis Presley’s version, as well as Nat King Cole’s adaptation.
The widespread interest in this song is a testament to its popularity. Using a ranchera style, it follows a specific rhythm and adheres to the style’s themes of love, patriotism, and nature. If you hear a brief shout during a ranchera song, don’t worry. This is known as a “Grito,” a traditional expression people like to include in rancheras.
6. Las Golondrinas – Guadalupe Pineda
This sad song is a change from what you might think of when you imagine mariachi. Instead of the celebratory, high-energy of Mexico’s folk dance music, “Las Golondrinas” is often played for funerals. It’s a song about loss, but it’s not meant to be depressing. Instead, this beautiful ballad references Mexican folklore, particularly about the bird known as the swallow. This imagery is meant to be comforting to those who are experiencing pain or grief.
Much of mariachi focuses on nature and the beauty of the Mexican lands. Even though this is a song for people in grief, it manages to honor the natural world, too. That leaves mourners feeling hopeful.
7. Volver, Volver – Vicente Fernández
Vicente Fernández is one of the most popular mariachi performers you’ll find. With hit after hit, he has to appear on any good list of Mexican music. “Volver, Volver” is a song about heartbreak. The singer wishes he could get back together with his lover and fantasizes about rewinding time. In English, the title means “Going back, going back.”
Though this is a sad song, it is still considered ranchera style. Rancheras are often in the minor key, and they express strong emotion. This is a perfect example of a sad ranchera mariachi tune.
8. El Rey – Vicente Fernández
This song won Vicente Fernández a Latin Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In English, the title means “The King.” It’s about a man who wants to believe he can still be the “king” of his community, even though he’s misunderstood by those around him.
This sad song shows the importance of believing in yourself through it all—and it encourages us to believe in others, even when they might seem like unimportant people. Because of the meaningful messages in this song, it has remained a hit for decades after its release in the 1970s.
9. Perdón Madrecita – Vicente Fernández
The lyrics of this song include frequent apologies to the singer’s mother. He says he is glad to have her love and is sorry for any times he has taken her for granted. This is a common song to hear at Mother’s Day celebrations. It’s a gentle and bittersweet mariachi song that’s meant to bring sons running to their mothers for a hug. Exactly what all mamas want.
10. México Lindo y Querido– Vincente Fernández
You can probably tell from the first word of this title that we’re looking at a patriotic mariachi song. It’s another ranchera-style piece, and it describes the natural beauty of the land in Mexico. One of the most powerful lyrics says that, if the singer dies outside of Mexico, he hopes people will say he’s only sleeping, and they’ll bring him back home. Famed Mexican composer Chucho Monge wrote this, and it has gone on to be recorded by many popular artists.
11. Por Tu Maldito Amor – Vincente Fernández
One of the memorable qualities of mariachi is the way the performers can reach theatrical levels of emotional displays. They’ll shout, they’ll cry, and they’ll stomp their feet. In this powerful song about heartbreak, the singer takes us on a journey of his sadness, often pausing to show that he is overwhelmed by his misery.
12. Acá Entre Nos – Vincente Fernández
Our last installment by the great Vicente Fernández is another sad one about lovers who are parted. In English, the title is “Just Between Us,” and the singer goes on to tell his former lover that “just between us” he’s been working hard to get over her. Of course, we learn that his efforts aren’t working, and he will love her forever, even if she will never be his again.
13. La Bikina – Luis Miguel
Luis Miguel is another incredibly popular mariachi singer. His rendition of “La Bikina” is particularly interesting because he uses a full mariachi orchestra rather than the smaller group of musicians that are more common. The result is a large-stage production that shows off how much fun this song can be.
The lyrics refer to a “haughty, proud” woman who leads everyone to believe she is independent and doesn’t need comfort. However, when she is alone at night, she cries over her lost lover. Fans can’t get enough of this song because of its depiction of a strong woman who chooses to grieve in her own way.
14. Le Media Vuelta – Luis Miguel
Known as “Turn Around” in English, this José Alfredo Jiménez composition has been recorded by many artists since its first release in 1963. In it, a man sings to his love, telling her she’s leaving because he wants her to.
The sadness in the melody makes this a bittersweet love song about two people who have to part. He says he hopes she will find someone who understands her and loves her the way she deserves.
15. La Malagueña – Luis Miguel
If you’re expecting to hear the sultry tones of adult Luis Miguel in this one, you’re in for a surprise. In the 1980s, this child exploded on the scene with his powerful voice and impressive high notes. That performance set the stage for Miguel’s future in show business.
Though this took place years ago, the internet is now flooded with “reaction videos” of singers hearing it for the first time. Even as a little boy, this singer clearly knew how to embrace the emotion of mariachi. Once you hear this recording, you’ll never wonder how Miguel found his way to stardom.
16. Que Bonita es Mi Tierra – Luis Miguel
Let’s return to the grown-up Luis Miguel, whose performance of the patriotic “Que Bonita Es Mi Tierra” is a fan favorite. The lyrics celebrate the beauty of the world, and they describe how Mexicans long to return home whenever they travel abroad. This is another installment in the mariachi tradition of songs that honor the land the singers call home.
17. Besame Mucho – Trío Azteca
This group is a bit different from the majority of mariachi bands you’ll hear because it includes a woman. The addition of a female voice adds something fun and interesting to the lyrics and the melody.
“Besame Mucho” is a sensual song, in which the singer asks someone to kiss them a lot. The kisses should be passionate as if this is their last night together. This is a great example of the longing mariachi lyrics can express, even in a few simple verses.
18. La Bamba – Trío Azteca
Yes, this is the song you already know and love—fast and fun, “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens is on Rolling Stone’s top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. But for this list, we will showcase the Trío Azteca version.
Originally known as “La Bomba,” this worldwide hit has different lyrics depending on who is performing it. Generally, the lyrics refer to a dance. The title doesn’t have any translatable meaning. It’s simply the name of the dance that Mexicans know from weddings, birthday parties, and other celebratory events.
19. Amor Amor – Trío Azteca
With a title like “Amor Amor,” this one pretty much has to be a ballad. The guitar picking is cheerful and expresses sweet longing, while the lyrics are from the perspective of a person asking love to show itself. This song is less about heartbreak and more about being ready to fall in love when the moment is right.
20. La Mano De Dios – José Alfredo Jiménez
This song, known in English as “The Hand Of God,” isn’t a particularly religious song. Though the title references God, it’s a famous love song. The lyrics declare that only the hand of God can separate these lovers because their souls are so attached to each other.
21. ¡Viva México! – Pedro Galindo
As the title suggests, this is a patriotic Mexican folk song. It’s often sung on September 16 to commemorate El Grito de Independencia. In English, the lyrics cheer “Long live Mexico” and declare that Mexico is a courageous land that never gives up.
El Grito de Independencia is also known as the Cry of Dolores, which took place in 1810. On that year, on September 16, a Catholic priest rang the bell in his church, effectively starting the Mexican War of Independence. Mexicans reenact this moment every year on the anniversary, and they often perform this song to go with the celebration.
22. La Llorona – Ángela Aguilar
The original composer of this song is still unknown, but that’s not unusual in mariachi. Because many of their songs are folk music, the melody and lyrics may have been written hundreds of years ago and shared among communities.
In this song, we hear the story of a Mexican ghost. That’s why this one often gets played on the Day of the Dead. It tells a story of a mother who has lost her children and is searching for them near a riverbed. It turns out the mother is, herself, a ghost.
23. El Mariachi Loco – Mariachi Nacional de México
The point of this song is to make everyone feel like dancing, and it does a great job. With a title that means “The crazy mariachi,” audiences know right away they’re in for a good time. The lyrics mainly repeat the same things about wanting to dance over and over, so everyone in the room should get the message pretty quickly. Not every mariachi song has to be a deep look into patriotism, death, or romance. Sometimes you just want to dance like a crazy mariachi and have a fun night.
24. Caminos de Guanajuato – Banda La Chacaloza de Jerez Zacatecas
Written by the great José Alfredo Jiménez, this song is a bittersweet love song for his hometown. It describes the weariness of life and travel and the homesickness we feel when we are forced to stay away. In the lyrics, the singer expresses that life has lost its meaning.
Though it’s high energy and a lot of fun to listen to, this is a sad song, and its mysterious lyrics make it a favorite of mariachi fans the world over. At the end of the song, the singer expresses a longing to go to Dolores Hidalgo, the place of his birth. Later, the songwriter was buried there, in 1973.
25. El Sinaloense – Banda El Recodo
Also known as “The Sinaloan Song,” this was written in 1944 as part of the banda subgenre of mariachi. Banda has origins in Mexican folk music, of course, but the style originally was meant to imitate military marching bands. This gives the musical aesthetic a unique flair that makes it fun to add to any mariachi playlist.
Many Sinaloans, residents of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, consider this song to be their unofficial anthem.
26. El Borracho – La Bandononona Rancho Viejo de Julio Aramburo
Translated, this title in English means “The Drunk.” It’s a popular song for Cinco de Mayo worldwide, as mariachi bands get frequent requests from Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. Suffice to say, this is just a fun, silly song about drinking too much. That makes it perfect for party environments.
27. Mi Linda Esposa – Mariachi Los Potrillo’s
Looking for the perfect mariachi song for your anniversary night out? This is it. With a title like “My Beautiful Wife,” you really can’t go wrong. The lyrics describe a marriage that has lasted a long time, as the couple have lived together and watched their kids grow up. Even now, the man sings, he is still in love with his beautiful wife. Aw. Mariachi at its sweetest.
28. Cielito Lindo – Pedro Infante
Written in 1882, this song is still incredibly popular today. You’ll hear it most often during sporting events like the soccer championship known as the World Cup. It’s a kind of Mexican anthem that means a lot to the people it represents.
In many ways, this is a simple love song. It talks about being wounded by Cupid’s arrow, and the singer begs his lover to give him a hug before her mother returns to separate them. But this is also a song about the beauty of Mexico’s lands. Most of the verses contain imagery about nature, which is important to mariachi songs that honor Mexican heritage.
29. Popurrí Boleros – Mariachi Los Camperos
Here’s another one for when you’re feeling ready for a good heartbreak. The lyrics of this song are directed at the lover who is leaving. They explain how hard life will be once she is gone. He begs her to stay, but he seems to know he’s destined to lose this fight. It’s a sad, romantic song, perfect for the lonely times that only a soulful mariachi can fill.
30. La Martina – Antonio Aguilar
In this troubling song, a young woman is unfaithful to her husband. The husband tries to get her father to help, but no one will discipline the bride. The song ends with the husband shooting his wife with his revolver.
Many folk songs from all around the world, including the United States, have origins in violence or misogyny. Mariachi is no exception. Though there are many other themes, this famous song can’t be ignored. It’s lasted for many years and is now a common choice for people who request mariachi tunes.
31. ¡Ay, Jalisco, no te Rajes! – Jorge Negrete
This fun song means “Jalisco, don’t back down!” in English. In an interesting twist on romantic stories, the lyrics describe the Mexican state Jalisco as having a love affair with its capital city, Guadalajara. It’s part ranchera and part polka, giving the rhythm and melody a unique feeling that audiences love.
It was originally written in 1941 for a hit Mexican film, and then the melody became the song for the Disney film The Three Caballeros.
32. Historia de un Amor – La Hija del Mariachi
This song was actually written by a Panamanian writer named Carlos Eleta Almaran. His brother’s wife had recently passed away, and he wrote this song to commemorate their love. Though it appeared in a 1956 film, this song is still popular today and achieved the world record for the most popular song to be translated internationally. The description of suffering after the man in the song loses his love appears to be universally understood.
In this recording, we get another female mariachi voice, which adds another layer to the meaning of these lyrics.
33. Amor Eterno – Juan Gabriel
This tearjerker often gets played at funerals. The composer, Juan Gabriel, wrote it for her mother after she died, which is why there are such raw and painful emotions in the lyrics. Through his ballad, he describes his mother’s eyes and how he wishes he could look into them one more time. His message is deeply personal to him, but it’s relevant to anyone who has suffered a loss.
Unlike the more upbeat mariachi songs, this is a thoughtful expression of love, longing, and the saddest parts of saying goodbye. As the title explains, though, this is also the promise that love is never-ending.
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